“To work in football, you need to know football.”
“We’ve already addressed diversity; we have 30 per cent of women on our Board.”
“We can’t purchase that, we’ve only ever sponsored cricket and polo in the last 50 years so let’s stick to that.”
These are just a handful of the eye-rolling quotes I have heard from C-suite professionals this past year while working in sport sponsorship, illustrating that despite appearances and PR stints, the sports industry continues to dig its heels in, ignoring widespread economic pressure.
This has created an entire industry that is riddled with a lack of diversity in almost every single way, which has far-reaching consequences beyond profitability. Although it’s often said that “Everyone knows that a diverse and inclusive process – in whatever area of sport you are in – leads to improved results” (Alex Coulson, executive director of Sport Industry Group after launching the first Diversity & Inclusion Award at the BT Sports Industry Awards in 2018), I’d strongly argue that most people don’t truly know the benefits because they aren’t experiencing them, because they just are not happening.