Lewis spearheads SIGA's gender diversity recommendations

TTOC president Brian Lewis - SUREASH CHOLAI
TTOC president Brian Lewis - SUREASH CHOLAI

THE SPORT Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) Council has unanimously approved the set of recommendations on race, gender, diversity and inclusion in sport which was recently announced by its multi-stakeholder task force.

Spearheading this initiative is TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president and SIGA task force chairman Brian Lewis alongside several sports executives, thought-leaders and athletes from different backgrounds and parts of the world.

In a statement issued by the task force, on September 11, the recommendations include bolstering research on the issue of race at leadership positions of international federations, as well as the SIGA Universal Standards on Good Governance in Sport.

Amendments to be incorporated into the 2020 edition of the SIGA Universal Standards include a bold step of setting a new ‘gold standard’ for sports organisations to gradually achieve percentage targets for gender and race diversity in the board room.

Other recommendations include specifically referencing disability as well as setting a ‘gold standard’ for all employees at sports organisations to receive unconscious bias training to install a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout its governance structure.

Further practical recommendations to SIGA include the development of a toolkit for sports organisations to facilitate the implementation of the Task Force’s proposed amendments to the SIGA Universal Standards on Good Governance in Sport.

This followed a week-long online SIGA-hosted sports integrity webinar, where open conversations were held among some of notable sports personnel. The intense event closed on September 11 and the council unanimously approved the set of recommendations on race, gender, diversity and inclusion in sport.

On the release of the recommendations, Lewis, who is also chairman of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committee (CANOC) and SIGA council member, said, “It has been an honour and privilege to serve on the task force with a diverse and passionate and visionary group of individuals all committed to ending all forms of discrimination, racial and gender injustices and inequalities in sport.”

The task force’s recommendations were broken down into four main areas: research and evidence base, amendments to 3.3 of the SIGA Universal Standards on Good Governance, development of a toolkit for sports organisations to facilitate implementation of recommendations in this area and identification and engagement of commercial partners and funding mechanism.

SIGA’s proposed ‘gold standard’ requires sporting organisations to put all their employees through unconscious bias training so that a culture of diversity and inclusion is filtered down through the organisation from top to bottom.

It mandates sports organisations to procure a recruitment firm which specialises in diversity and inclusion.

SIGA’s ‘silver standard’ promotes sports organisation to have a quality management process in place whereby their diversity and inclusion policies and practices are regularly reviewed to make sure they are current, appropriate and in line with any new legislation.

Additionally, these sporting fraternities must have a robust system in place for handling and dealing with all discrimination complaints. There needs to be an investigation followed up by appropriate action if necessary.

As their ‘bronze standard’, sports organisations must have a mechanism in place for staff and other relevant personnel (including members and volunteers) to provide anonymous feedback, such as an annual survey, thereby facilitating inclusion and allowing all voices to be heard.

The statement further read, “Each organisation shall adopt a target of, and take all appropriate actions to encourage, a minimum of 30 per cent of each gender on its board and demonstrate a strong and public commitment to progressing towards achieving gender parity and greater diversity, generally on its board, including, but not limited to, Black, Asian, minority ethnic (BAME) diversity, and disability.”

Densign White, International Mixed Martial Arts (IMMAF) and SIGA council member, stated, “The SIGA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force is a welcome and timely initiative, and I am honoured to serve on the panel since these are topics close to my heart.

“Tackling the underrepresentation of women, BAME people and disabled people at the top end of sports organisations is crucial for change and we are currently working up policies and targets for improving diversity particularly in leadership positions.

“This includes starting at home by reviewing how we can strengthen the SIGA Universal Standards with respect to these important values, which in turn serve to strengthen organisations.”


"Lewis spearheads SIGA’s gender diversity recommendations"

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