Organisations delivering sport and physical activity should ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate or volunteer regardless of their background. 

Creating an environment where everyone is welcome and accepted can help organisations thrive and become a key community asset. To achieve this, more needs to be done to ensure that sport and physical activity is accessible to ethnically diverse communities and that positive experiences of participation and volunteering are delivered. In this webpage we highlight the importance of being inclusive to ethnically diverse communities, a term which covers a large range of communities, as well as the potential barriers they face and some tips on how your organisation can become more inclusive.

Why is it important to be inclusive to ethnically diverse communities?

  • A high proportion of people from ethnically diverse communities have experienced racism in sport.
  • The proportion of people that meet the recommended levels of physical activity from ethnically diverse communities is significantly lower than the national average.
  • 2 in 5 people from ethnically diverse communities felt they have fewer opportunities to participate in sport and physical activity than someone from a white background.

Even in today’s diverse society there remains a significant under-representation of ethnically diverse communities in sport and physical activity. The issues of racism and discrimination remain with the barriers to participation and volunteering increasing. These issues and challenges need to be addressed to ensure that everyone has the opportunity and support they need to be involved with community organisations delivering sport and physical activity.  

It is also important to note that as part of the Equality Act 2010, organisations have a legal obligation to protect people from discrimination and harassment, including those from different ethnicities as well as other. protected characteristics.

What are the benefits of being inclusive to ethnically diverse communities?

Ensuring that your organisation is inclusive to people from ethnically diverse communities can have a number of benefits, including:

  • Helping your organisation to attract and retain members and volunteers and create a positive and welcoming environment.
  • Providing opportunities and meeting the needs of different community groups and increasing local opportunities to participate and volunteer for those that may otherwise miss out. 
  • Having a membership and volunteer base that is representative of your local community.
  • Helping to break down racial stereotypes that may exist within your local community.
  • Having people from ethnically diverse communities as positive role models, particularly for younger members.
  • Helping potential members and volunteers recognise similarities with others that are already part of your organisation.
  • Welcoming of different faith groups. As an organisation it is important to understand the close relationship that exists between ethnicity, culture and faith when looking to make your offer more accessible.

There are also a number of wider benefits to an organisation of being inclusive, which can be explored in more detail on our main inclusivity page here.

What are the barriers facing ethnically diverse communities?

It is important to understand the different barriers which can stop people from ethnically diverse communities participating or volunteering, the common barriers that exist have been highlighted below. It is however important to recognise that people from ethnically diverse communities are not a homogenous group, as individuals will face a wide range of unique challenges and barriers to participating or volunteering, so organisations are encouraged to take time to understand people’s individual needs and accommodate these where possible.

Commonly faced barriers for include:

  • Experience of Racism. Previous experiences of racism within sport and physical activity can negatively impact future participation and volunteering.
  • Lack of diversity. The lack of visible diversity amongst participants and volunteers often discourages people from being involved as an organisation can be perceived as ‘non welcoming.’
  • Racial stereotypes. Throughout society particular stereotypes have been associated to different ethnic groups. This is a form of discrimination and can negatively impact participation and volunteering.
  • Dress Code. The kit people wear when participating at your organisation can be a barrier for both males and females of particular ethnic and faith groups.
  • Lack of cultural understanding and awareness of ethnic diverse communities.  A lack of understanding within your organisation of different ethnic community groups, their culture and their behaviours.
  • Mixed sport. Women from particular ethnic groups and faiths will not want to participate in activities with men or will be reluctant if men are present.
  • Language. English may not be the first language for many ethnically diverse communities so they may not feel comfortable joining your organisation.
  • Facilities. Lack of privacy in changing, showering and delivery areas can be a barrier for some ethnic groups and faiths.
  • Time of activities. For some groups offering activities at certain times or on specific days maybe a barrier particular if these are offered at times of pray/worship or holy days.

Tips for embedding inclusivity for ethnically diverse communities at your organisation

To support your organisation to create inclusive opportunities, there are a number of small changes that you could make to your offer to ensure it is more accessible. Check out the tips below for more information.

  • Talk to and engaging with participants and volunteers from ethnically diverse communities who may already be involved with your organisation or from your local community to identify their specific needs, wants and any barriers that might stop them from being involved.
  • Be flexible around kit and sports clothing that session attendees can wear. This could include allowing tracksuits to be worn instead of shorts, and leggings/tops for swimwear.
  • Consider the timing of your offer. Many people from ethnic communities may belong to faith groups so will have particular times where they will not be able to attend sessions. Speak to your members and volunteers to find out what works best for them.
  • Connect with other local groups who have a reputation of being inclusive to seek advice on running and adapting sessions and activities. This can help make those from ethnically diverse communities more comfortable and confident to attend your sessions.
  • Consider offering activities for different genders.
  • People from ethnically diverse communities can favour activities that can be pursued in less competitive environments.
  • Involve friends and family. Use taster and drop-in sessions with ‘invite a friend or family member’ to give people the confidence to try out your activities with the support of their friends or family.
  • You should consider if your facilities allow for sufficient privacy in activity spaces and changing areas.
  • Carry out research, to understand the diversity within your local community and be specific in terms of the groups within the community you wish to engage and recruit. If possible, speak to local community leaders to gain a greater insight to enable you to tailor your approach and communication.

  • Making sure that your organisations operations are underpinned by inclusive practices and procedures can be valuable in creating a more welcoming environment for people from ethnically diverse communities. These include:
  • Ensuring that you have an equality and diversity policy and equalities statement which are visible. Display your policy and statement prominently at your facilities and on your website.
  • Developing an anti-racism and discrimination policy. Your policy should have clear reporting procedures to enable your participants and volunteers to report discriminatory abuse in confidence.
  • Appointing an inclusion officer, who is responsible for ensuring your organisation’s commitment to inclusion is upheld.
  • Reviewing your recruitment processes to ensure your organisation’s workforce is representative of your local community. Encourage those from ethnically diverse communities to be part of your decision-making processes. 
  • Calling out racism and discrimination. Educate your members and volunteers on forms of racism and discrimination and encourage them to speak out if they hear or experiences incidents of this.

  • Using diverse imagery in your promotional material and communications. Which reflects your local community and the people you seek to attract.
  • Reaching out and promoting your offer to places where people from ethnically diverse communities may already meet (e.g., faith centres or local community groups).
  • Be specific on who you are looking to reach through your communications. Understanding and using the correct terminology in your organisations marketing and communications is important when seeking to engage with ethnically diverse communities. Check out Sporting Equals Terminology Guide for more information.
  • Focusing your promotion on the health and social benefits of participation.
  • Promoting your organisation’s commitment to inclusion to your local community.
  • Building relationships with schools, community group leaders and faith centres. You could seek their advice on adapting your offer to be more appealing for different ethnic groups.

  • Highlight local and national role models. Identifying and engaging with existing role models within the community will act as an enabler for participation or volunteering. Use a diverse range of role models to promote your organisation.
  • Find out from local organisations about cultural events or celebrations that are taking place such as Asian Mela, Caribbean Carnivals, Chinese New Year or Diwali and offer information about your organisation, taster sessions and contact details.
  • Support anti-racism groups and campaigns such as Kick it Out, Black History Month, and Show Racism the Red Card.

Professional Workforce Training – Sporting Equals

This webpage has been developed with the support of Sporting Equals. Sporting Equals exist to promote ethnic diversity across sport and physical activity. For more information on Sport Equals and the work they do click here.

As part of their support for the sector Sporting Equals provide various training for the professional workforce including The Sporting Equals Charter and the Leader Board Academy, follow the links for more detail on the different training available.

Sporting Equals Associate Membership

Sporting Equals provides the opportunity of becoming an associate member to organisations delivering sport and physical activity to ethnically diverse communities. More information, including the benefits of becoming an associate member is available through the following link.

Last modified: Monday, 21 February 2022, 10:48 AM