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Joint review of Code for Sports Governance

The review will focus on areas that can help promote diversity, draw on experiences from the past three years and use current best practice to shape the new code.

13th July 2020

Our Code for Sports Governance will undergo a joint review to look at areas where it would benefit from further development, including around equality, diversity and inclusion.

The review of the code, which is jointly produced by us and UK Sport, will begin immediately and cover three areas:

  • Where the code would benefit from further development, including a substantive review of its elements that support equality, diversity and inclusion – particularly those that focus on the boards of sporting organisations, aimed at ensuring greater representation of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, disabled people or people with a long-term health condition, as well as female representation
  • A general review of other elements of the code, drawing on more than three years of experience of using the code and with more than 200 bodies now having been assessed
  • A check against current governance best practice from other sectors, recognising that thinking may have moved on and further improvements found in sport and other sectors over the last three years.

Two rugby players perform a tackling drill with one holding a tackling pad

Organisations the code applies to will be part of the wide and inclusive consultation, as well as other organisations involved in improving governance, diversity and inclusion.

With the review anticipated to be concluded within six months, our chief executive Tim Hollingsworth has welcomed the news.

"The Code for Sports Governance has undoubtedly pushed the standard of sports governance to a new level and been an amazing tool for reform, particularly where bringing about greater gender parity is concerned,” he said.

“However, we are more aware than ever of the work that remains to be done, particularly where equality and diversity at board and leadership level is concerned. 

"With BAME numbers at board and leadership levels quite rightly in the spotlight at the moment, this must not be another false dawn for addressing the racial inequalities that exist within sport, and the review of the Code for Sports Governance will serve as one of the key pieces of work on this front." 


Appointments have been made to sports boards following our work to provide a pool of diverse, board-ready, candidates.

The code was launched in April 2017 and has accelerated the professionalisation of many national sports bodies, including establishing boards as the ultimate decision-making authority within a sport, rather than the traditional councils.

Following on from this, one of the code’s particular focusses has been on reforming board memberships to include at least 25% independent members, as well as including at least 30% of each gender.

The implementation of the code has seen a move towards gender equality on boards, with women now accounting for 40% of board members across funded bodies.

We are more aware than ever of the work that remains to be done, particularly where equality and diversity at board and leadership level is concerned

Tim Hollingsworth

Sport England chief executive

And we’ve also been working with Perrett Laver to identify and develop a network of senior, experienced candidates from a range of backgrounds, including BAME and LGBT+, to help organisations develop more diverse boards.

So far, the partnership between us, UK Sport and Perrett Laver has seen 23 appointments made, 61% of which have been BAME and 74% female, with 50 BAME women in the network of potential board candidates.

And while UK Sport’s chief operating officer praised the work the code has helped facilitate to date, he added there's still work to be done.

“It has always been our intention to review the code at the end of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic cycle, in order to consider whether there are areas in which it can be enhanced,” he said.

“We are particularly mindful of the need to ensure that boards are reflective of society across the UK.

“We’ve seen the power of the code to effect positive change to the gender balance of sports boards, and it's right that we consider how this approach can be broadened.   

“Our desire to conduct a substantive review of the way in which the code can help to drive equality and diversity forms an important part of our commitment to creating a high-performance system that is truly inclusive.”

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