Cricket in Crisis: a Governance Issue? Is it safe to speak up?

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Is it safe to speak up? What do the recent racism claims within English cricket show us about the value of good process and practices to support diversity and inclusion?

The recent coverage of claims of institutional racism with English cricket highlights that governance continues to fall short within sport but what’s gone wrong and how can good governance help develop a more inclusive environment, not just in sport but for businesses too.

The English Cricket Board notes a commitment for diversity and inclusion, and to make the game of cricket a game for everyone but what can and should organisations be doing to demonstrate they take this crucially important aspect of a business’ culture seriously?

Diversity and Inclusion, why is it so important?

Whoever you are, whatever your background or personal preferences are, you want to feel valued and included.  To feel able to be comfortable being yourself, sharing your perspectives and be able to offer a different point of view.

So why should a business care? It speaks to culture and supports growth.   Within a business or a sports team, people are your biggest asset and having an open, diverse, and inclusive culture brings good engagement and loyalty from everyone in the team.  People play to their strengths and within a team having diversity of thought and experience, supports collaboration and success.

Everyone wants to feel that their contribution is recognised and valued.

It’s therefore key that diversity and inclusion policies and practices align with that cultural view and demonstrate the values of an organisation.

Robust policies and procedures

So what makes a good diversity and inclusion policy…

A commitment to:

  • create an environment that is free of bullying, harassment, victimisation and discrimination.
  • to encourage equality, diversity and inclusion as good practice and business sense.
  • to take complaints seriously
  • to monitor the make-up of a team, to assess how the D&I policy is working in practice.
  • provide opportunities for training and development to help people reach their potential

Equally important is being clear on what happens when something goes wrong – are your grievance process and procedures clear, do you articulate the routes someone can take without being subject to potentially further issues.

The importance of a ‘speak-up culture’

It’s why when looking at diversity and inclusion its helpful to consider your whistleblowing policy and procedures. There to help protect someone for “speaking up” when they witness poor conduct and being able to do so without fear of being treated unfavourably. It’s important that people feel able to voice or raise genuine concerns, particularly  with respect to matters of discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation or religious beliefs.    Whistle-blowers can sometimes be worried about speaking up due to personal repercussions. There have been public cases where the person speaking out about poor behaviours and conducts has been treated unfavourably. Are we seeing a sea change in protection for people? Certainly in the US where the Governor of California recently signed into law the Silenced No More Act, bringing about greater protections for someone speaking out.

How can people feel protected and able to speak openly? Having robust policies and procedures is again the key. Being clear that poor behaviours are not tolerated is crucial in ensuring anyone looking to speak up can do so with confidence and that they won’t be treated poorly as a result.

A whistleblowing policy must clearly articulate the process for raising a concern, the process which must be followed and must protect all people whilst also clearly covering the consequences of making a malicious or false claim.

What does this mean for English cricket?  An opportunity to strengthen procedures, practices and policies to make, as the English Cricket Board states, cricket a game for everyone. We await developments with interest.

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