ECB update on cricket's action plan to tackle racism and all forms of discrimination

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is today publishing an update on the implementation of cricket’s action plan to tackle racism and promote inclusion and diversity at all levels of the game, which was announced on 26 November 2021. The intention is to provide further information about the actions underway across the cricket network, including the initial steps that have been taken in respect of each commitment and the anticipated timetable for full delivery of the plan. 

This is the first of the regular updates that the ECB committed to provide when it announced the action plan in November. The next update will take place before the end of March, with at least one further update to follow in each subsequent quarter. 

There follows below an update on each of the game-wide measures that were announced as part of the action plan. 

1. Adoption within three months of a standardised approach to reporting, investigating, and responding to complaints, allegations, and whistleblowing across the game. 

A new, independently operated game-wide whistleblowing system with standardised procedures for investigating and responding to complaints will be established by the end of February 2022. This will be accompanied by a communications campaign to raise awareness with the aim of ensuring that anyone who wishes to report discrimination, at any level of the game, feels able to do so. In parallel, work is continuing to define the resources and capabilities required by the ECB’s new Anti-Discrimination Unit. The unit will work with the professional game to tackle discrimination while also providing ongoing guidance across cricket. The new unit will be operational by the end of May 2022. 

2. Full promotion of the aims of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) through proactive engagement with its investigations and recommendations. 

The ICEC has received more than 4,000 responses to its online survey since it made its first call for evidence on 9 November 2021, inviting everyone in cricket to share their perceptions and experiences of discrimination and inclusion. A second call for more in-depth submissions of written evidence will go live at the end of February 2022 and will be publicised by the ICEC, ECB and the cricket network. Following further evidence gathering and stakeholder engagement across the first half of 2022, the ICEC will publish its final report in September 2022. The ICEC operates as an independent body; the ECB is assisting its work, providing documents and data and facilitating access to stakeholders across the game. 

3. Ongoing EDI training for all those who work in cricket, including all staff, volunteers, recreational club officials, umpires, directors, and coaches. 

All ECB and County directors, staff and key volunteers will be provided with anti-discrimination training by the end of February 2022. This will also be rolled out across to cricket’s 40,000-strong volunteer base in addition to recreational club officials, umpires and coaches during the 2022 season.  A broader inclusive leadership programme has already been piloted in Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset and with the MCC before being offered to all those in leadership positions across the game.   

4. A full review of dressing room culture in all men's and women's professional teams, both domestic and international. 

The review will be led by Clare Connor (Managing Director of Women’s Cricket), working with Ashley Giles (Managing Director of Men’s Cricket), First Class Counties, the Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) and external experts. It will examine dressing room culture(s) across elite cricket in England and Wales and make recommendations to address discriminatory attitudes and behaviours. The review will commence in February and run across the 2022 season (when dressing rooms are active) with the final report due in September. 

5. Delivery of a redesigned programme of player and coach education, addressing any gaps identified through the dressing room review. 

Player education will build on the anti-racism training delivered by the PCA to 1,000 players and support staff in 2021. A redesigned programme, taking account of findings from the ICEC and dressing room culture review, will also be developed later in the year. 

6. Action to aid progress into professional teams of people from diverse backgrounds (especially South Asian, Black and less privileged youngsters) through measures to address: 

  • talent identification and scouting  
  • education and diversity of coaches and  
  • targeted support programmes for players from diverse or under-privileged backgrounds. 

 The ECB will work with each County to deliver plans to address these three areas that we know are the biggest barriers to progression for players from diverse background. Initial work is underway to gather insights and identify challenges across the network, including through listening to those who have participated in the pathway and engagement with external experts. Building on this work, individual plans tailored to the specific circumstances and challenges of each County will be developed across the 2022 season. This project is being overseen by Clare Connor and Ashley Giles. 

7. A full-scale review, in advance of the 2022 season, into the detection, enforcement, and sanctions against discriminatory and abusive crowd behaviour at each of our professional cricket grounds. 

The ECB is working with each First Class County to complete a comprehensive review of crowd behaviour and working with each venue in order to understand their specific plans and actions that are required ahead of the 2022 season.   

8. Delivery of plans (tailored to local communities) to ensure professional cricket venues are welcoming to all, including provision of accessible seating, food and beverage offering catering to all faiths and cultures, and the availability of facilities such as multi-faith rooms and alcohol-free zones. 

The ECB is working with each First Class County to understand their plans to make 2022 the most inclusive season yet. This work forms part of the Capital Investment Plans for each County so that the provisions available to fans and spectators at each venue are appropriate for each form of cricket. 

9. Upgraded education in recreational cricket to ensure players, volunteers and coaches understand and champion inclusion and diversity in the game. 

Work is underway to map existing education programmes across the game. This will inform a redesigned EDI education programme to be rolled out across the 2022 season. 

10. A commitment to best practice governance with targets for Board diversity (30% female, locally representative ethnicity by April 2022) and plans to increase diversity across the wider organisation. (Compliance will be subject to a “comply or explain” provision to ensure Counties can respect their own governance processes in making the required change) 

The ECB is working with each County to understand the current position and develop plans to address any gaps ahead of the 30 April 2022 “comply or explain” deadline. Sport England and recruitment specialists Perrett Laver will provide practical advice and assistance in helping to meet Board diversity targets, building on their previous collaboration to drive diversity in sport leadership roles. 

11. The introduction of fairer recruitment processes through measures including the immediate adoption of anonymised recruitment tools for senior roles, open appointment processes for all roles and the use of balanced and diverse panels to assess interviews 

Changes to the ECB’s recruitment processes have already been made. Learnings are being shared with the wider game as the ECB supports each County to adapt their own processes to ensure recruitment is fair, inclusive, and transparent. 

12. Every senior executive employed across the game will have personal EDI objectives as part of their annual performance targets, driving leadership  

The introduction of personal EDI objectives is in the process of being implemented at the ECB for all employees, not just those in leadership positions. Counties are working on plans to implement this for their senior executives. 

As well as the measures set out above, the announcement of 26 November 2022 committed to action in a number of other areas. These include minimum EDI standards for venues bidding for high-value matches and a link between minimum EDI standards and receipt of central funding. Both of these elements have already been implemented. 

The ECB has also commenced a review of governance and regulation in cricket to identify any opportunities to strengthen the structures and process across the game. This process will draw on the external expertise of Portas, the specialist sports management consultancy, who will consult stakeholders and benchmark cricket against other sports. The final report will be completed in May 2022. 

In addition, the ECB is working with Kick It Out, football’s leading anti-discrimination organisation, to carry out research and identify areas where they can offer expertise in developing and implementing plans to build a more inclusive cricketing environment. It is the first time Kick It Out has worked outside football and the partnership is supported by funding from Sky.  

County and MCC Progress on EDI initiatives 

In addition to the central ECB work against the 12 points, efforts are underway to progress individual action plans at a local, County level. There are many examples of Counties already taking positive steps to understand personal experiences from those involved in cricket, through proactive outreach to players and former players; using staff surveys; speaking to recreational players; reviewing dressing room cultures; and setting up anonymous whistleblowing and reporting lines.  

Across the cricket network there is also widespread work underway to embed equity and inclusion at the heart of everything Counties are doing, through initiatives like localised delivery of EDI training and workshops, policy reviews and open trials to broaden the routes into County talent pathways. A selection of examples are below. 

Cornwall - Cornwall Cricket Board is in the process of finalising their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. This will cement a range of actions to meet the ECB’s recommendations, review their processes and provide training for staff.  

Derbyshire - At Derbyshire, since appointing a new HR & Safeguarding Director to the Board as part of a governance restructure 2020-2021, they have improved and updated their Safeguarding policies and processes across the Club. All staff, from players and coaches, to stewards and office staff, will receive tailored EDI Training this month.  

Durham - Durham have established a permanent player working group to look at and address dressing room culture and changed the composition of their Board. 

Essex – Essex have reviewed their governance to address the diversity of the Board and have begun an independent internal investigation into historical allegations of racial discrimination. The club has developed an EDI Action Plan, organised EDI training, increased the diversity of their pathway sessions, and is working on a cultural calendar for staff. Further plans are under way to improve the inclusivity of the matchday experience, with a faith room being developed, plans for alcohol-free and family zones and a wider food offering at the ground to cater for all communities. 

Glamorgan - the recreational and professional game in Wales has worked closely since the autumn to create a united front and coherent plan to show the commitment and intention to embed equality, diversity and inclusion within cricket. Within the last six months the County and Board have run EDI workshops, drafted an overarching joint EDI strategy document and supporting action plan, created the Glamorgan Cricket EDI subcommittee (Cricket Wales’ EDI subcommittee has been in place for eight years), and Glamorgan Cricket has also engaged with the Investors in Diversity programme as an industry wide standard. The plans align with the ECB’s action plan and recommendations from Investors in Diversity.

Gloucestershire - The County has already participated in a ECB pilot on Inclusive Leadership and the Executive Board is currently embarking on bespoke training as continuing professional development on EDI. The Board is looking at its governance to enable the delivery of the important Board diversity targets and is confident it can add to its current mixed gender and locally represented diversity. 

Gloucestershire Cricket’s association with the ACE programme was officially launched on Thursday 16 September, when England Women faced New Zealand for a One-Day International match at Bristol County Ground. On Saturday 22 January 2022, Gloucestershire Cricket Performance Director Steve Snell and four Gloucestershire players took part in the ACE programmes first academy trials session. 

Hampshire – The County has launched a new Inner City State School Academy, a partnership which will see a number of elite level coaching sessions being hosted for young state school cricketers with high potential. Hampshire Cricket will utilise Cantell School’s facilities to run coaching sessions, with the aim of ensuring young people in inner city areas have an equal opportunity to access high level cricket coaching. Young players are invited to sessions via nomination through the Hampshire Cricket Board and the Lord’s Taverners ‘Wicketz’ programme, opening up more opportunities for those who might not have otherwise filtered into the County’s current pathway system. It is intended that this scheme will be expanded into other major Cities in Hampshire and plans for a location in Portsmouth are at an advanced stage. 

Lancashire – The Club has been working on its own EDI journey since early 2020 and is fully committed to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace for all at Emirates Old Trafford and the wider Lancashire Cricket family involved in the game. An EDI steering group, led by the Board, was established at Emirates Old Trafford in May 2020 to shape the Club’s strategy moving forward. EDI workshops and a women’s cricket committee have been created whilst training has been planned to include greater awareness of racism, unconscious bias and inclusive leadership.  

Representatives from Lancashire are currently speaking with a diverse range of community groups, with a particular focus for those from a BAME and LGBTQ+ background across Manchester to find out more about their personal experiences in cricket. The Club carried out a formal EDI and demographic survey for all employees, whilst it also met specifically with Lancashire’s women’s squad and men’s players who are from a BAME background. A review into Lancashire’s cricket culture is currently on-going. Lancashire also created an anonymous link for anyone to report any historical or current discrimination whilst at the Club. The Club has taken external advice from third-party EDI specialists to progress the work that’s being undertaken, which includes further research. Lancashire’s EDI plan and strategic objectives with timelines and targets will be shared in due course. 

Leicestershire – Leicestershire County Cricket Club have an EDI task force which is actively developing and delivering their EDI strategy throughout the local recreational and professional game. This focus group includes playing and coaching staff, Board Directors, the CEO, and other staff members representing each component part of the business, as well as being supported by the Cricket Supporters Association. EDI is a standing agenda item at each Board meeting, and recruitment is underway to further improve Board diversity. All employees and Board members are already required to complete mandatory EDI training through an online learning platform in advance of the training programmes which the ECB is providing. They have also recommended that EDI be part of the ECB ClubMark accreditation requirements. They are developing their own disabled supporter’s association as well as local recreational cricket club roadshows to promote and champion EDI in all respects across the county. They have established the Future Fox Fund to support those for whom financial constraints can be a barrier to participating in the County Age Group programme, and have employed County Talent Champions to inclusively identify and promote rising stars and talented local players from all backgrounds. As one of the 10 ‘Core Cities’, they engage with the ECB City Programmes Team to provide opportunities for more South Asian Female volunteers. They are also working on initiatives in partnership with the Leicester Caribbean Cricket Club, and delivering proactive programmes such as Bolly Cric-Hit which are specifically targeted to increase engagement and participation within locally diverse and multicultural communities. 

MCC - MCC has made broad commitments across a number of EDI areas as part of its published EDI and ESG plans. It has surveyed members to understand their experiences and gather data on the make-up of the Club, which will inform their membership and experience plans. MCC’s Heritage & Collections department have concluded a comprehensive review of its entire collection on race and empire. Anti-racism training has been delivered to all permanent staff and Main Committee via Show Racism the Red Card, with leadership teams also receiving additional inclusivity training. Meanwhile, existing reporting systems continue to provide a robust process for logging, investigating and actioning any matters relating to EDI.  

Middlesex - Middlesex launched their own EDI Activation Plan 20 months ago and have since been proactive in setting up anonymous whistleblowing and reporting lines. They have contacted past players asking them about their experiences and have done the same with recreational clubs to proactively address any issues. An EDI committee is now leading the charge on all activity in this space and they have rolled out EDI training to staff.  

Norfolk - In December, the Norfolk Cricket Board appointed Jane Hannah in the role of Chair on an interim basis until June 2022, with a recruitment process beginning in spring for a permanent chair. The Norfolk Cricket Board has also conducted a full governance review in 2021 and is working with Perrett Laver on a pilot scheme to ensure Norfolk meets its Board diversity targets.   

Northamptonshire – The County appointed Shivani Kaushike onto the Northamptonshire Board as an EDI specialist. Shiv is the third woman to join the Board. Northamptonshire have now established the Luton Steelbacks Academy in partnership with the shared learning trust, for a BTEC qualification. The cricket development element, for 16 to 18 year old students, has former Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley leading the cricket development programme and Monty Panesar as the scheme ambassador. Discussions are well underway for a similar initiative in Peterborough. 

Northumberland - Northumberland Cricket delivered three Equity, Diversity and Inclusion training sessions for staff, directors, coaches and other stakeholders. 

Nottinghamshire - Following changes to improve diversity within its governance structure, the Club's current General Committee of 12 compromises of four female members and one South Asian member supported by a female Chief Executive and President of Kenyan origin. To better understand the current make-up of the Club all permanent staff have completed an EDI census and bespoke versions are being designed for its volunteer and match day workforce. A survey to understand the diversity and educational background of all its boys and girls County Age Group squads and its Academy has been implemented.  

Somerset - With over 98% of votes from Somerset CCC Members being in favour of radical reform following a comprehensive review of the club’s Governance, a Nominations Committee has now started work on the recruitment of 5 Non-Executive Directors and 3 Member Directors to allow them to be ratified at the forthcoming AGM.  The new Board will comprise at least 30% of each gender.  The senior Executives of the club and the Somerset Cricket Foundation, along with the Chair and Deputy Chair, all took part in an ‘Inclusive Leadership’ training session led by the ECB last week while plans are being put in place to host a series of ‘lunch and learn’ sessions for staff with individuals who have been subjected to discrimination in various environments. 

Surrey - The ACE Programme was launched by Surrey County Cricket Club in January 2020 in response to the decline of black British professional players. It was designed to engage young people of African and Caribbean Heritage and a talent search was launched. In Black History Month, October 2020, following significant investment from Sport England, the ACE Programme Charity launched as an independent charity following the success of an ACE Academy with 25 scholars in a bid to have a wider national impact. The charity aims to 'Support Diverse Talent from the Grassroots to the Elite'. The ACE Programme Charity aims to inspire the wider game to support reconnecting with the Black community. The vision is to be a catalyst to accelerate change and has an ambition to become a national charity operating in five key cities. ACE will provide equal opportunity equality for females and will look to develop key strategic partnerships and capture key insights as the charity grows.  

Surrey Cricket Foundation will be advertising for a Trustee with a focus on African Caribbean cricketing communities with interviews expected in early March following work with the African Caribbean Cricket Association (ACCA) and the South Asian focussed leagues. 

Surrey have also agreed in principle to the creation of a Culture & Values Board, Chaired by Ebony Rainford-Brent, which will report into the Surrey Management Board. The CVB will have a key objective around improving people’s lives through the cultural oversight of the club. Focus will be given to areas such as ESG and social engagement.  

Surrey is focused on improving employee diversity. The club uses job board, Indeed, and advertises locally on the Lambeth job portal. Equal opportunities data monitoring, unconscious bias training, gender pay gap reporting and an updated Dignity at Work policy have all been implemented in recent years.   

They also plan to automate recruitment processes to anonymise applications for senior roles. The Rooney Rule will be adopted during the search for a new Head Coach and all other senior executive and cricketing appointments. EDI training, provided by i-Hasco, will launch in February for all staff alongside a bespoke programme on anti-racism. All senior managers will have an EDI objective set in their annual appraisals. SCCC actively contributed to the game-wide census and continue to operate their anonymous ‘whistle blowing’ hotline for reports of discrimination.  

The club will also build on existing work to ensure all discriminatory ground behaviour is called out with appropriate sanctions. Alcohol-free and family stands for all major match days will also be increased.   

Sussex - Sussex have a long history of encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion across the whole game. The professional and recreational games merged their organisations in 2015 creating a one-game approach to all aspects of cricket in the county. There has been a whistleblowing policy in place for over a decade and an EDI committee was set up in 2020 to report to the main Board. An action plan incorporating the 12-point commitments has been created and EDI training (which includes anti-discrimination) has been delivered in-house to all permanent employees, Board, Trustees and players. They have a thriving disability programme in Sussex with ambitious plans to grow this over coming years. In July 2021 urban plans were launched in Crawley and Brighton to set out clear initiatives to grow the game in all aspects.  

Warwickshire - Warwickshire invited 80 cricketers, aged 18-25, to open trials at the Edgbaston Cricket Centre, to help broaden their talent pathway. The invitation was extended to Birmingham & District Premier League clubs, who could identify and recruit players who are not currently playing at the highest level of recreational cricket in the West Midlands. In addition, Warwickshire Cricket Board (WCB) recently brought back its Glow in the Dark cricket programme, GLOW, for more than 60 girls, aged 14-years-old and over, to provide an opportunity to play cricket outside of school. Having started after-school cricket sessions over the last 10 weeks of the autumn term as part of WCB’s South Asian Core Cities programme, the girls played in the dark using UV reactive equipment and in luminous coloured clothing to create the exciting glow in the dark effect, with music playing throughout. 

Worcestershire – Led by the Board Worcestershire has adopted and provided training on whistleblowing, governance, and reporting to all staff in early 2018. Since extensive constitutional change in March 2018, female Board representation has increased from 10 to 40 per cent of total, with ethnic diversity at 10% of Board, which includes the Chair, and is shortly expected to further increase. Worcestershire is already meeting targets set in the ECB’s 12-point action plan, although it acknowledges there is still more as a county that it can further develop. Ongoing follow up education and training for all staff has already occurred in November 2021, with Safeguarding and an EDI steering group, led by the board, already in place. The club aims to have gold standard of governance within 12 months.