The dugouts and sidelines of football do not represent the diversity on the pitch, meaning many boardrooms are unequal, unreflective and unrepresentative.
This is where decisions are made, and so for sport and society as a whole to become more inclusive, boards must start reflecting all communities and drawing on the fullest range of skills, experiences and perspectives.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have been at the forefront of pushing for greater diversity through their ‘On the Board’ initiative, and as part of our work highlighting the good practice of Alliance members for Black History Month we got in touch with the sportspersons’ union to learn more about the programme.
Established in 2013, On the Board works to create more diverse British boardrooms by equipping current and ex-professional footballers with the skills to take up roles as directors and non-executive directors when their playing careers begin to wind down.
Not only does the programme give footballers the chance to progress from the pitch to the boardroom, but it also provides stakeholders with the opportunity to access a rich and diverse talent pool with industry specific knowledge and a passion for the game.
Over the past seven years the PFA has funded over 90 of its experienced and, in many cases, high profile members through the programme, seeking to progress as many as possible into areas of representation.
115 delegates have graduated from the programme, with 41 individuals acquiring 65 Board appointments and many others pursuing work in the voluntary sector, on charitable committees and community trusts.
Former graduates from the programme include Les Ferdinand, Chris Hughton, Jason Roberts, Quinton Fortune, Danielle Carter, Jason Lee, Wes Morgan and Aoife Mannion.
The following video will give you an insight into the student experience.
Change happens when we can influence leadership and improving diversity within the board and senior management of organisations is a critical part of the solution.
There is still a massive disparity between the visibility of black players on the pitch and representation at senior leadership level within the game.
This year, the PFA is seeking strong representation from football’s stakeholders including key personnel from club community trusts and foundations interested in learning more about how they can support the initiative and provide opportunities for wider BAME participation in the governance of the sport.
To find out more about the different courses, funding and how to apply, please visit the On the Board website.