UK Sport and Sport England outline future developments to Code for Sports Governance

Published 13 July 2020


UK Sport and Sport England have today confirmed that the first joint review of the Code for Sports Governance is to be undertaken effective immediately. The review will focus on three areas:

  • The review will identify areas where the Code would benefit from further development, and will include a substantive review of the elements of the Code that support equality, diversity and inclusion – including those that focus on the boards of sporting organisations, aimed at ensuring greater representation of those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, those with a disability or long-term health condition, and female representation on boards
  • A general review of other elements of the Code, drawing on over three years of experience of using the Code and with over 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

The review will involve a wide and inclusive consultation with organisations the Code applies to, and other organisations involved in improving both governance and diversity and inclusion. The review of the Code is anticipated to conclude within six months.

Background to the Code, and progress so far

Launched in April 2017, the Code for Sports Governance has accelerated the professionalisation of many national sports bodies with focus areas such as:

  • Reforms to board memberships, including at least 25% independent members
  • Commitments to targeting greater diversity, including at least 30% of each gender on boards
    • Since its implementation, the Code has significantly accelerated gender equality on sports boards, with women now accounting for 40% of board members across funded bodies following the introduction of a 30% target as part of the Code,
    • Establishing boards as the ultimate decision-making authority within a sport rather than traditional councils

Diversifying Board memberships has been a central focus of the Code and UK Sport and Sport England monitor compliance and support funded bodies in meeting their Diversity Action Plans. The two organisations have also put in place a successful programme with Perrett Laver to recruit and upskill a diverse network of board candidates.

Working with UK Sport and Sport England, Perrett Laver identify and develop a network of senior, experienced candidates from a range of backgrounds, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, disabled and LGBT+ to help organisations develop more diverse boards. So far, the partnership has seen 23 appointments made to sports boards, 61% of which have been BAME and 74% of which have been female, while 50 BAME women are in the network of potential Board candidates.

Simon Morton, Chief Operating Officer of UK Sport said:

“National governing bodies have delivered a huge amount of positive change since the introduction of the Code for Sports Governance. However, 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.

“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 its 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.”

Chief Executive of Sport England, Tim Hollingsworth said:

"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.

“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 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic 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."

Funding Partners
  • DCMS
  • TNL partners
Official Partners
  • BAES logo
  • BUPA
  • IHG logo
Strategic Partners
  • British Olympic Association
  • Paralympics GB
  • Sport England
  • Sport Northern Ireland
  • Sport Wales
  • Sport Scotland