This article is part of a series that Ranjit Dhindsa is working on, exploring inclusivity, diversity and culture across different industries.
Read the previous article in the series.
Brentford FC is a Premier League football club based in west London. Founded in 1889, the club recently returned to the top flight of football in 2021, having last played in the top division in 1937. Brentford FC is the fiftieth club to play in the Premier League and finished thirteenth in the 21/22 season. The club also recently moved into a brand new 17,250 seater capacity stadium and recently hosted a number of the Women’s Euros games.
How important are inclusion and diversity issues at Brentford Football Club?
Very important. We recognise the business benefits of reducing bias in decision making and getting the best out of people with an inclusive culture. We believe we will achieve our objectives more easily with this approach. Better decision making means more success so it makes sense to have this approach.
How would you summarise inclusion and diversity challenges in football?
There are multiple issues with lack of representation of particular communities on and off the pitch. The most stark lack of diversity in football is the lack of women in coaching positions. These are complex and structural issues and require addressing across the game.
Do you think it is important to capture data on the current state of inclusion and diversity in football?
Data can be useful, but it is possible to concentrate too much on capturing data when it is obvious what the main issues are. If data is too vague, it does not really assist in formulating action plans. If data is too granular, the people participating may not feel comfortable if they are going to be directly or indirectly identified. There may be other organisations or sectors where it is important to capture data but in football, I think it is obvious what the main issues are and football cannot hide behind a lack of data to make necessary change.
Do you think organisations should have inclusion and diversity targets?
The Premier League have an equality standard and the FA have targets for recruitment so we already have some targets in our industry. Targets are all very well but the really important work to do is to improve culture within organisations. The starting point must be to review the recruitment and retention processes and procedures adopted in any organisation and understand where bias is creeping in to combat it at source. By creating more open and inclusive cultures that will inevitably lead to improvements.
What steps are Brentford Football Club taking to overcome the challenges?
We start at the top and try and role model what inclusive recruitment should look like. We try to attract the best talent and that means removing the biases and barriers which exist in our industry. We are trying to ensure our organisation is more inclusive and allows individuals to be their best authentic selves at work.
Do you think organisation still need persuading on the business reasons to create more inclusive and diverse cultures?
Organisations that build teams with diversity in their backgrounds and ways of thinking are more innovative and those organisations that accept this are doing well. It is inevitable that there is some inertia and resistance to change among some organisations. I think some do need further persuading that being good at this can lead to greater success. In my organisation, we try to objectively measure performance. We think about more than just winning matches. We want to be better in every aspect of what we do.
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