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Understanding ethnic diversity in cricket through the Race Representation Index

Kate Aldridge, the ECB’s EDI Director, reflects on the ECB’s participation in the latest edition of the Sporting Equals Race Representation Index.

For the last three years, the charity and advocacy group Sporting Equals has published an annual Race Representation Index (RRI). Its intention is to survey and analyse ethnic diversity in sporting national governing bodies (NGBs) across five key areas – Boards, executive leadership, coaching, athletes, and officials – in an effort to tackle racial inequality and hold organisations to account on their diversity commitments.

This year, Sporting Equals saw the highest engagement rates ever, reaching 92%, with 58 NGBs taking part. This engagement and commitment from the sporting sector is important as we collectively tackle a lack of diversity within the sector. The findings, which are detailed in the recently published Race Representation Index 2023, maintain the ECB’s previous grade B ranking (on a grade A to F scale). In part, this recognises some of the progress cricket has been making in becoming a more inclusive sport, with the ECB’s Board (which in 2022 was assessed as grade B) and executive leadership both scoring A grades for their ethnic diversity.

But we realise there is still a long way to travel on this journey, and we recognise the work ahead to get to where we want – and need – to be. The RRI 2023 highlights three key areas for improvement within cricket, and work is already underway to make progress in each of these.

Across coaching, athletes, and officiating, our focus is on widening the base and helping people to progress up the performance pyramid. In all these areas, the ECB has programmes that are already in place, and we should continue to see the results of these initiatives in the coming months and years. We continue to review the impact of these initiatives, and identify specific areas requiring additional focus.

  • In coaching, the #Funds4Runs initiative with LV= has seen more than 3,000 bursaries granted since 2021 to help people from underrepresented groups to start coaching cricket. We are actively looking at what the next stage of this programme should look like, with a key goal being to increase the diversity of coaches working within the professional game.
  • In officiating, our Officiating Oversight Panel includes a range of internal and external representatives with expertise in EDI, HR, and Officiating. All decisions around recruitment and promotions go to the Panel for scrutiny, helping the sport to avoid unconscious bias. A new ECB Umpiring Course, introduced in November 2023, is also showing promise among its early participants: 25% (167) of the 670 attendees so far have been people from ethnically diverse communities.
  • In our performance pathways, one of the ways we are increasing access for young people from ethnically diverse communities is through our charity partnerships that see us fund, support, and share learnings with three organisations –African Caribbean Engagement (ACE) programme, South Asian Cricket Academy (SACA), and MCC Foundation – that all aim to diversify the playing pool at a recreational and professional level.

Following the publication of the RRI 2023, I was pleased to be able to attend Sporting Equals’ Race Equality Summit in London during April. We heard powerful testimonies of people in different sports sharing their lived experiences, as well as details from other NGBs about their diversity initiatives. It was also an excellent opportunity to share best practices, network with different sporting professionals, and represent the ECB at an incredibly important event.

In overseeing the RRI, Sporting Equals is doing important work in providing a mechanism for collective accountability and providing an independent assessment of ethnic diversity within sports. The ECB values Sporting Equals’ findings, and inspired by their approach, has applied the same methodology to measure our gender, disability, LGBT+ and socio-economic background diversity within cricket. We look forward to continuing to build and strengthen our relationship with Sporting Equals.