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How community sport and physical activity can attract more people, partners and funding by becoming more diverse and inclusive

Despite continued efforts, and various initiatives, community sport and physical activity in most places has not managed to significantly increase participation among people with different attributes and backgrounds (i.e. race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion) in a meaningful way.
 
Diversity is the mix of peoples’ different attributes and backgrounds and a good way is to think about diversity is to think about your local community. Does your club/centre reflect the diversity of your local community? Diversity is the mix of people, inclusion is trying to get this mix to all work together in harmony.

Representing your members and your community?

Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) is an important sports body in Australia due to the importance of life on the beaches in Australia and the many resultant accidents in the water.

40% of drowning accidents happen to people born outside the country as people from Somalia, Afghanistan and so on often can’t swim and understand the dangers of the sea. 

Also, 43% of the 140.000 members of SLSA are females, so all told one can only wonder over the composition of the SLSA board and how they are engaging with 43% of their members and a large sector of the Australian community?

How are things at your place when it comes to representing your members and your community?

It’s both about people and money

Being a inclusive, diverse and equitable place where people of all backgrounds can feel they belong and are part of something good is fantastic. But another great reason is something more prosaic; Money.

Here are some estimates of the purchasing power of some of our minorities.

The pink pound

Pink money describes the purchasing power of the LBGT+ community. With the rise of the gay rights pink money has gone from being a fringe or marginalised market to a thriving industry in many parts of the Western world such as the USA and UK. Many businesses and places now specifically cater to gay customers, including nightclubs, shops, restaurants, and even taxicabs; the demand for these services stems from common discrimination by traditional businesses and places.

In 2019, LGBT adults globally held a combined buying power of approximately $3.7 trillion and the UK gay market is worth an estimated £6 billion per year.

The Blue pound

The spending power of people with disabilities is really rather sizeable. There are about 11 million disabled people in the UK and it is generally estimated that they spend around 80 billion pounds per year. If businesses design stylish mobility products, they will benefit. If shops and restaurants provide quality access and disabled facilities, they will do the same.

The ethnic pound

1 in 6 individuals living in the UK are from an ethnic minority background and they spend £145 billion in the economy, yet only 1 in 5 companies are reaching out to them as consumers

How diverse and inclusive and representative of your members
and your community is your board?

So, how to start your journey towards becoming a more diverse and inclusive place


First, this is not about policies – it’s about developing a welcoming culture and experiences for everyone.

We can all download some wonderful policies and then claim that we are diverse and inclusive. But it is about how everyone within your club, group, facility sports body behave and welcome people from the whole community.

It all starts at the door – how do new people feel when they stand outside your place for the first time?
Is this how a new person feels when they stand outside your place for the first time?

Now imagine you are this young girl.

Yesterday, she watched a short video about your sport and thought she would like to give it a go. After some toing and froing, she did find your website
(does your club have a vibrant social media presence where this girl can see whether she knows somebody there?)

It was a bit difficult to find out exactly when she could come to the club as a newcomer, what she should wear, whether she needed to bring her own equipment…all those questions that most of would struggle to answer before going somewhere for the first time.

She managed to get to where your club trains and there she is standing no doubt feeling apprehensive.  Three members have just walked past her, chatting away, all dressed in the ‘right gear’. Honestly, I don’t think anybody would be very surprised if she decided to go back home, never to be seen again at your club.

I am sure this wouldn’t happen at your club. I am sure there would be somebody who would make sure that this girl would be made to feel really welcome, introduced to people, join a ‘Get Into Session etc.

Is this how a new person feels when they stand outside your place for the first time?

Now imagine you are this young girl.

Yesterday, she watched a short video about your sport and thought she would like to give it a go. After some toing and froing, she did find your website
(does your club have a vibrant social media presence where this girl can see whether she knows somebody there?)