The FLDC: What We Can Learn

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated December 18, 2023

There’s a lot we can learn from the recently introduced Football League Diversity Code (FLDC), this article looks at the five biggest lessons.

Since its launch in October 2020, the Football Leadership Diversity Code (FLDC) has been improving policy and addressing underrepresentation in football. All 20 clubs and the Premier League have shown support for the code, which works to increase diversity and reduce inequality in the sport. And as the FA’s Football Leadership Diversity Code for Season 2021/22 shows, positive change is happening. This article explores what other sectors can learn from the diversity code to tackle discrimination and improve representation.

What Is The Football Leadership Diversity Code?

The football leadership diversity code is a voluntary set of principles which aims to promote diversity and inclusion in football. This includes promoting diversity within senior leadership positions. The diversity code was launched in October 2020, and the English Football League (EFL), the Football Association (FA), the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the Premier League, and the League Managers Association (LMA) have all shown support. It is already having a positive impact on diversity amongst FLDC careers.

The Football Leadership Diversity Code covers a range of factors, including:

  • Introducing inclusive hiring practices and succession plans to promote diversity and welcome candidates from underrepresented groups
  • Ensuring that management teams (senior coaches, executive teams, and operations) represent a diverse group of communities
  • Publicly reporting on their progress when it comes to meeting the code targets
  • Following recruitment targets to get more underrepresented groups in senior positions

5 Things We Can Learn From The FLDC

The UK’s Football Leadership Diversity Code (FLDC) offers employers valuable lessons on proactively improving diversity and inclusion within their organisations. Here are five insights employers across different industries can borrow from the FLDC.

1. Start with inclusive hiring

The diversity code requires football clubs to adopt recruitment and succession plans focusing on underrepresented groups. And employers in different sectors can learn a lot from this.

By implementing inclusive recruitment practices, including writing inclusive job ads and using diverse interview panels, organisations can reduce bias in the interview process. This also includes taking measures to attract candidates from diverse backgrounds.

Aspiring To Include can help with this. We work with employers to connect them with diverse talent through our inclusive job board.

We also provide various employer services to support employers, such as job and inclusivity screening. You can also find free guides in our employer resource hub.

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The first step in building a more diverse workforce is attracting talent from different walks of life. This may require rethinking some of your criteria for jobs. It may also involve considering underrepresented employees for promotions and coaching them for senior roles.

2. Set clear targets

The FLDC urges football clubs in the UK to define measurable targets for improving diversity in leadership positions. This is another vital lesson. By setting targets and monitoring your progress, your organisation can remain accountable and affect real change.

3. Be transparent

Another core principle of the diversity code is being completely transparent about the progress toward diversity goals. Employers across any sector can learn from this. Not only will transparency ensure you stay accountable, but it will help to showcase a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion in the long term. It also ensures that shareholders understand where you’re at and where you want to be.

4. Personalise your diversity code

Each industry is different and may have slightly different goals or challenges. As such, employers should follow in the footsteps of the FLDC and tailor their code to the industry’s specific context, culture, and barriers. For instance, while the finance sector may lack female representation, STEM lags behind in BAME representation.

5. Gain support 

Twenty football organisations in the UK support the diversity code. This shows the importance of collaborating with others to achieve diversity and inclusion goals. For example, this could mean partnering with professional associations, organisations in the community, or fellow employers in the industry to share best practices and make a real difference.

Sectors That Are Already Following Suit

It seems that other industries are already looking to the football league’s diversity code in a bid to meet diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. In October 2023, a global body covering the financial sector rolled out its very first diversity, equity and inclusion code in the UK. This comes at a time when regulators in the industry are calling for more representation of women and ethnic minorities.

The CFA Institute has already implemented a similar version of the diversity code across the US and Canada, where over 160 organisations have joined.

The UK version of the diversity code is based on six principles:

  1. Diverse talent pipeline
  2. Inclusive hiring practices that encourage diversity
  3. Promotion practices that aim to retain diverse talent and help them to progress
  4. Working towards diverse leadership
  5. Influence and measuring
  6. Progress reporting 

There are no set timelines or specific targets attached to those principles. Furthermore, organisations that sign the code will provide a yearly progress report to the CFA Institute. The content of the reports will remain anonymous, but the CFA will release an annual industry-wide progress report.

This is good news for the finance sector, which still needs to catch up in representation despite initiatives like the Women in Finance charter. In other news, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and Bank of England have also recently proposed new requirements for large banks and insurers. These are related to targets for improving diversity and inclusion performance.

A Final Word On The FLDC

The FLDC is an important initiative that is making great strides in improving diversity in football. It recognises the need for a proactive change in how the sport hires, promotes, and retains senior-level employees. As such, it serves as an excellent template for other sectors looking to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion performance.

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Last Updated: Wednesday October 18 2023
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