We would like to provide an update on our plans around equality and diversity in surfing for the year ahead. We wholehearted believe a more diverse line up and a richer mix of people in the waves makes for a better surfing experience for all. So here is a break down of where we are up to, some plans and ideas we want to put into practice and a few ways to get involved.
It’s no secret the last couple of years have been hard yards for non-funded sports like ours, but having made it through the tough times we’re getting Surfing England into a good place where we have the capacity and financial resource to start tackling some of the bigger challenges in surfing. We’re still a small team and mainly volunteer led and we know that to make real progress, it needs to be in collaboration. As such our door is open for anyone wanting to get involved and make a positive contribution in this area.
Plans for 2022
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is embedded into our thinking across the range of activities we deliver. This can be from basics like the images on our new trailer, through to big strategic pieces like the development of our talent pathway and plan – Surfing England Talent Pathway
EDI is a broad and complex area, and often deeply personal. We know we’re not experts and we’re not going to get everything right, but we are committed to the cause and the fundamental principle that surfing should be an open sport, available for all who want to access it.
Some of the steps we are taking:
In adaptive surfing, which opens up surfing for those with mental or physical impairments an have different levels of ability (rather than disability) we commissioned a substantial review “adaptive-surfing-consultation-report-released” last year and are continuing our work with the report’s author to investigate national level funding streams that will support the roll out of our vision for regional centres for adaptive surfing. These would be hubs around the country at which coaches and volunteers can be trained, the adaptive surfing knowledge base deepened and more adaptive surfers able to access the kit and expertise needed to get them surfing.
We will also be launching SEA CREW in 2022, a fund raising programme to support the adaptive surfing team and feeder programme, alongside the ongoing development of the Adaptive Surf Team and the delivery of one of the major international adaptive events in the English National Adaptive Surfing Championships.
A great way to get involved with our adaptive surfing programme is via our Adaptive Championships, whether to just come and meet the crew, or as a volunteer to help with water safety. In 2022 we will also be recruiting more volunteer coaches and support staff for the Surfing England Adaptive Team.
In 2021 we became charter members of Sporting Equals and have since opened up the conversation with them about ethnicity in surfing and the starting actions we can take as a small NGB. Two key actions we are taking in 2022 are:
Producing a Surfing England Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan which will set our ambitions for enhancing diversity and the actions to be taken.
Forming an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Panel to help develop and then implement the aforementioned action plan. The panel will feed directly into the board, as well as being able to work with the operations team, giving them significant scope to influence, inform, change and develop the way we work.
We have started drawing up the panel terms of reference and hope to recruit this summer, bringing on board people with a range of experience from across society and the wider sporting world. The panel will be a key mechanism and route for people to get involved, whether as members or feeding their ideas, experiences, thoughts and hopes into the panel to help inform their decision making.
Creating resources. At the end of last summer we started working on a bid that included funding specifically for research and action on inclusion and diversity in surfing. Fast forward to 2022 and we have been successful with our application and for the first time ever, we have ringfenced budget of £10,000 that will support our new EDI steering group, giving budget to turn ideas into action. For an organisation our size, this is a substantial step forward.
We are also expanding the operations team from 4 to 6, giving us more internal resource to support the group and to help embed recommendations into our delivery activities.
Recruiting. We are putting all our board level recruitment through Level Equals, a consciously inclusive talent acquisition agency with the express aim of bringing diversity and inclusion to their teams. At least two new board members will be recruited in 2022 through the Level Equals process. We are also advertising all recruitment through the sporting equals network.
Whilst some of the big measures take time to get running, we’ll continue with the smaller, day to day measures we take to keep pushing inclusion. Like ensuring our imagery and photography is always gender balanced, or that our new junior series is made as welcoming and attractive to young girls as possible, as we seek to improve the number of girls staying in sport.
We know there is much to do as an organisation and as a sport and we hope those passionate about diversity in surfing will support the measures outlined above and want to work together, as it’s through partnership and collaboration that we will be most effective.