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  • Writer's pictureSavania China

Assessing the Strength of ICEC’s Recommendations & Implications for building a DEI-based culture



Introduction


In June 2023, the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket released report entitled Holding Up A Mirror to Cricket. The report was through and extensive and unforgiving for the England Cricket Board (ECB). The report found in ECB an organisation bedevilled with widespread racism, classism, and sexism. The report put forward forty recommendations for the ECB to clean up bias and discrimination. In this review, I will only focus on the recommendations on Approach to DEI (recommendations 5 – 25). I will assess each recommendation through the lens of the LACE framework. The LACE framework divides DEI work into 3 brad categories – Learning, Action, and Celebration. I will assess each recommendation for possible weakness and suggest how it can be strengthened. The assessment is to add value to what DEI consultants and advisors should frame recommendations and also explore how practitioners and leaders can think evaluate and implement recommendations.


Recommendation 5


a) Within the next six months, the ECB puts in place mandatory, specialist, high-quality training to support the development of racial literacy amongst its leadership (Executive and Board) and the most senior leadership of the wider game (as defined in Chapter 4, State of Equity in Cricket).

b) A continuous programme of education and training to build competency in leading EDI in cricket should be put in place for the most senior leadership of the game.

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This recommendation is a great start. It falls into the Learning element of the LACE Framework. Training and continuous learning is vital for everyone in an organisation, not just leaders. That is because culture filters and permeates through all levels of the organisation. I do not believe mandatory training is the most effective way to go about instilling a culture of learning and listening. According to a Harvard study, mandatory diversity training does not yield desired results. That has often been my experience too. So here, I would suggest amending the recommendation and not make the training mandatory. I think the ECB, like any large organisation, could mandate certain outcomes and outputs, which in turn will “force” the leaders who care about diversity, equity, and inclusion to seek the necessary knowledge through learning. The organisation will need to ensure that the learning is easily available and accessible. Most importantly, the ECB should show their willingness to make tough decisions. And one such decision will be to let go of leaders who choose to not learn and grow. Sometimes radical change requires radical action.


Recommendation 6


We recommend that the ECB commits to being an anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-classist organisation and encourages all other cricketing organisations to do the same. The ECB should ensure that this is reflected in its strategic approach to EDI, including the development of new, or revision of existing, game-wide strategies or plans, and the development of its game-wide values and behaviours framework.

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While this is a noble recommendation, it can be difficult to measure such commitments and easy for the organisation to claim because it doesn’t require them to do any hard, sustainable work. All that an organisation needs to meet this commitment is to release a statement denouncing racism, classism, and sexism. Maybe add that to their website and annual statement. Then they can add sections on DEI on their strategic and/or planning documents. And all that can be done without changing the lived experience of a single person who is/has been victim to racism, classicism, and sexism in the organisation. The LACE framework advocates individual leaders making public commitments of what they will do and achieve. And to allow those in the organisation most impacted by discrimination to review and pass judgements on whether the organisation and all the strategies and plans are translating into making them anti-racist, anti-classist, and anti-sexists.


Recommendation 7


We recommend that the ECB adopts a clear and consistent strategic approach to issues of EDI. To achieve this:

a) Advancing EDI should not be relegated beneath or subsumed within commercial or other considerations, including the protection of reputation and public relations.

b) There should be greater emphasis specifically on equity, alongside diversity and inclusion, when EDI decisions are made.

c) The ECB must be willing to unambiguously name discrimination (e.g. racism, sexism and class-based discrimination) and include clear commitments to tackle the issue, within its strategic documents, where the evidence indicates that it is a problem.

d) Identity holders must no longer be relied upon to highlight failures and drive change within cricket.

e) The ECB should consider EDI in all aspects of its operations by carrying out EDI impact assessments for its existing and new programmes, initiatives and policies.

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This is a comprehensive recommendation with several actions for leaders. It builds on recommendation 6 in that it advocates a more consistent strategic approach to DEI. The first point is about the organisation prioritising DEI because it is the right thing to do and the right way to manage an organisation. In my book, Learn, Act, Celebrate, I explore this issue and conclude that if DEI is done as means to an end – i.e. for profit, good reputation (which leads to more profit) or as PR stunt, it will not endure. I think the key to this recommendation is how the ECB should embed DEI in all aspects of its operations. If done correctly and independently, carrying out impact assessments on existing and new programmes, initiatives, and policies will be a good starting point. But real lasting change will come from sustained cultural shift in how everyone in the organisation thinks and behaves. I believe the term “identity holders” is describing those affected by racism, classism, and sexism. In that case, I would amend that recommendation. While I agree that it is not up to identity holders to drive change, I strongly believe they should and must play a critical role in evaluating the success or progress of DEI initiatives. They should also be actively involved in pointing out where improvements are needed or point to persisting pain points. But that, identifying problem areas and opportunities, should not be the job for identity holders alone. In a learning organisation, all employees should be equipped with the right knowledge to hold themselves and leadership accountable for diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Recommendation 8


We recommend that the ECB substantially increases the money allocated towards advancing EDI in all areas of the game, particularly at recreational and talent pathway level.

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This recommendation aligns with the LACE framework in as much as it focuses on making resources available for DEI. Indeed, increasing funding for DEI related activities is vital. I personally would have preferred a more concrete recommendation than “substantially increase” because that term is highly subjective and open to interpretation. Oftentimes, more money does not translate to better outcomes for those who suffer discrimination. I have seen many examples of organisations boasting about pouring money into their DEI commitments without making a difference. In one example, the entire leadership team went on a six-figure all-expenses paid cultural retreat and the expense was included in their DEI investment/allocation figures.

This recommendation can be strengthened if we ask the question, what outcomes would we want in those particular areas of the game? Those outcomes can then be used to set targets and the recommendation will be for the ECB to hit those recommended targets in areas of the game. If more money is required to reach the targets, then they need to allocate more money. If they have other ways of reaching the targets without allocating more money, they should do so. What matters is to get the outcomes we want due to an increase in funding, not the funding itself.


Recommendation 9


We recommend that the ECB complies with the Public Sector Equality Duty wherever possible, given its management of a public asset, its receipt of significant amounts of public funds and, most importantly, the benefits that doing so will have on advancing EDI across the game.

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Just like I suggested for previous recommendations, focusing on outcomes will likely lead to real change and not just box ticking. Put simply, the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) requires public organisations carry out DEI impact assessments for all new programmes, projects, initiatives, and policies. This was already covered in Recommendation 7e above. Instead of simply complying with the PSED, the organisation should be expected to go further. That (going further) can take many forms. They should actively publish the results of the assessments and the actions taken based on the findings and recommendations from the assessment. I say “actively publish” because PSED assessments are by default public. But that does not mean organisations publish all their assessments. It simply means members of the public can request to see them. Moreover, the PSED does not force organisation to take specific actions based on the outcome of the assessments and does not mandate the thoroughness of such assessments. Thus, an organisation can do an assessment and conclude that their policy will have some negative impacts on, for example, women. But if they think the overall benefits will outweigh the negative effects, they can still proceed. I would frame this recommendation in terms of carrying out thorough, independent assessments, and proving that all recommendations from the assessments are acted upon.


Recommendation 10

We recommend that, within the next six months, the ECB establishes an Executive-level Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer role with a singular focus on EDI, and puts in place sufficient resources to support EDI delivery. We recommend that the Chief EDI Officer sits on the ECB Board for the short to medium-term and/or until there is improved performance across EDI outcomes described in our assessment of the State of Equity in Cricket

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Again, a sound recommendation, especially the fact that it goes beyond just hiring a Chief DEI Officer and suggests providing sufficient resources to support DEI work. The recommendation could have been made stronger by replacing “sufficient resources” (which is subjective and open to interpretation) with something like “all the resources requested by the Chief DEI Officer”. That level of specificity would make the recommendation stronger because it will be easy to assess if the recommendation was met, whereas “sufficient resources” is difficult to assess and prove. I also think the Chief DEI Officer should sit on the board permanently, not just for a limited time as recommended. If not, there should be a permanent board member with responsibility for DEI.


Recommendation 11


We recommend that, within the next 12 months, the ECB undertakes an in-depth examination of the decline of cricket in Black communities in England and Wales and develops a targeted action plan to reverse that decline. This should include:

a) Providing increased and sustained funding for the very successful ACE Programme.

b) The identification of Black-led cricket clubs across England and Wales and an offer of financial support and capacity building to develop targeted programmes in their local communities.

c) Proactive and extensive engagement with stakeholders from Black communities when developing the plan, using the evidence-based and user insight-led approach taken under the South Asian Action Plan.

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This recommendation is quite specific and sound. It seeks to address a specific issue. I would only add that maybe the recommendation could go beyond developing an action plan. It could include successful implementation of the plan too. Moreover, the recommendation could extent to other less prominent preprogrammes or those not yet in existence. Adequate and long-term funding should not only be limited to one successful programme (ACE), but that programme should be used as an exemplar and replicated and emulated. I would have preferred a close assessment of what makes the ACE Programme successful and then using that as the basis for a broader recommendation.


Recommendation 12


We recommend that, within the next 12 months, the ECB undertakes an in-depth examination of the class barriers that exist in cricket and develops a game-wide strategy to remove them.

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This is a tangible recommendation to kickstart work around class barriers. This is about equal and proportionate access to opportunities and resources to support players from all walks of life.



Recommendation 13


We recommend that the ECB introduces gender-based budgeting into their next, and future, business planning cycle to analyse the fairness of their resource allocation decisions and the impact they have on gender equality. Spending and investment decisions can have very different impacts on women and men, because of different starting points, needs and priorities. The analysis conducted to inform decision-making should adopt an intersectional approach that considers race, class and gender.


Recommendation 14


We recommend that the ECB and the wider game increase, at pace, the levels of investment in the core infrastructure and operations of the women’s and girls’ game, reflecting the outcome of gender-based budgeting.


Recommendation 15


We recommend that there should be a fundamental overhaul of the professional women players’ pay structure within English and Welsh cricket and that there should be equal pay at domestic level by 2029 and at international level by 2030, as follows:

International and domestic level

a) With immediate effect, there should be equality for all working conditions between women and men.

b) The approach to the calculation of remuneration (i.e. through a three year agreement/Memorandum of Understanding) should be equal and standardised between men and women.

International level

a) Match fees between England Men and England Women should be equalised with immediate effect.

b) Other forms of England Women’s pay/fees, including average salaries, captain’s allowances and win bonuses, should be equal to the England Men’s white ball team by 2028.

c) England Women’s average commercial pay (i.e. payment for promotional appearances) should be equal to England Men’s average commercial pay by 2028.

d) England Women’s prize money for the ICC ODI World Cup and T20 World Cup should be topped up by the ECB in line with England Men’s until the ICC makes these equal.

e) There should be overall equal pay at international level by 2030. By this, we mean average pay, because we recognise that there will be different levels of pay within the teams, with the top players (men or women) being paid the most.

Domestic level

a) Rookie contracts should be introduced to the Women’s Regional Teams (WRTs) and minimum salaries for WRT players should be equal to First Class County players by the start of the 2024 season.

b) WRTs should be fully professionalised by the start of the 2025 season by increasing the number of WRT contracts to 15 to make a full squad.

c) Average pay and prize money should be equal by 2029 based on the following schedule (in this context, average pay includes both red and white ball cricket):

◊ 50% of the men’s by 2025

◊ 75% of the men’s by 2027

◊ 100% of the men’s i.e. equal by 2029

d) The women’s salaries for The Hundred are currently 25% of the men’s in terms of overall salary pot, captain’s bonus and the amounts in each of the salary tiers. These should all be equal by 2025.

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Recommendations 13, 14, and 15 are quite specific and measurable. Recommendation 14 could perhaps be more specific, especially around the outcomes sought from the increased investment. In general, the recommendations fit well into LACE Framework Actions that would be expected as part of implementing a comprehensive DEI-based organisational cultural programme.


Concluding Remarks


In closing, the ICEC recommendation form a strong basis for the ECB to begin to dismantle what appears to be a culture of racism, sexism, and classism. But the recommendations could be strengthened by focusing on outcomes and eliminating anything that can be done as a tick box exercise. Looking at the recommendations through the lenses of the LACE framework, I would add a few more about celebrating diversity where it does exist. I am assuming there are some parts of the game that are exemplary. If so, the recommendations should have included those because celebrating is just as vital as Learning and Actions.


Further Information


To learn more about the LACE Framework please contact us directly and we'll send you an advance summary copy of the framework. But more details will be available in the upcoming book. We’ll endeavour to send all those interested in this work free advance copies of the book.

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