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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion continues apace

Category: Disability Confident, disability, diversity and inclusion, Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, pride, UK Athletics, ED&I, mental wellbeing, EDI, ED&I Programme, World Autism Day, Pride Network


UKA’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programme has continued apace through early 2021 with some notable successes and developments.

Students from Hive College in Birmingham have during recent years attended the UKA offices at the Alexander Stadium for work experience to gain valuable insight into potential jobs in sport.  During the pandemic this has not been possible but to ensure the students, who all have disabilities and differing learning needs, do not miss out a number of live online presentations have taken place.



Chair of UKA, Nic Coward; Para Athletics Head Coach, Paula Dunn; and Head of Corporate Communications, Liz Birchall; all gave up time to share with the students, aged between 19 and 25, details of their jobs, how they got into them and what qualities are needed for various roles in the organisation.  The College helps students to develop the important qualities they need to aid their transition into adult life and the presentations were well received providing a great picture of careers in sport and how the students could become involved now or in the future.

Paula Dunn, Para Athletics Head Coach, presented to the Hive College students and found it an insightful and valuable learning experience.

She said, “I spent 20 minutes outlining the main areas of my job and then answered questions from both the students and staff.  It was interesting to hear from the students their experiences of barriers in the workplace and especially how they overcame them and prepared for employment. We can all learn from engaging with groups with different needs.

“I had thought carefully about the material I used in my delivery and their responses underlined the importance of this.  Every presentation is a learning opportunity and I definitely learnt things from them after doing the session.”

UKA extends Disability Confident Leader status

The UKA has recently had its status as Disability Confident Leader renewed. The government’s Disability Confident scheme aims to help businesses and organisations to employ, support and promote disabled people in the workplace and to make the most of the opportunities provided by employing disabled people.  The scheme has three levels that have been designed to support companies on their Disability Confident journey with ‘Leader’ being the highest.  UKA received its first status in 2017 following the successful recruitment of some 250 volunteer “runners’ to support the World Athletics Championships and the World Para Athletics Championships hosted in London.

Donna Fraser, Equality, Diversity and Engagement Lead, said: “I’m so proud to have achieved the standard of a Disability Confident Leader based on the work we do internally around disability since 2017.  We continue to ensure disability inclusion is exercised within our sport, but there is always more we can do to be even better and demonstrate the behaviours of a Disability Confident Leader.”

Pride Network – One Year On

The Athletics Pride Network is looking to build on a successful first year with a reframing of the network to increase stakeholder engagement and target intervention.  The network, which celebrated its one-year anniversary earlier this month, aims to make athletics safe and welcoming for people within the sport who identify as lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other sexual orientations and gender identities (LGBTQ+), and their allies.  It welcomes people from across the athletics family including athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and administrators.

More than 800 people have interacted with the network through various social media channels during the year.  The network was included in the prestigious Global Diversity List for 2020, published by the DIVA Media Group, which represents the gold standard of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Going forward, it is hoped to increase the membership and encourage more members to get involved and help drive the Network’s initiatives. For example, members are currently being offered the chance to become trained Diversity Role Models (DRM) to assist in the delivery of LGBT+ inclusion workshops to young athletes, coaches, officials and parents/carers later in the year.

During its first year the network held the first of a “Meet the Athletics Pride Network” webinar series with the Home Country Athletic Federations, celebrated LGBT role models in the sport and spoke at events such as MindOut, Pride Sports and Gay Games.

World Autism Day

On Friday 2 April to mark World Autism Day, Welsh Athletics profiled sprinter, Sadie Mulvaney. The day, which recognises people with autism and those that support them, aims to increase awareness and understanding of autism and how it affects those with it and their families.  In response to a question about role models, Mulvaney highlighted that she did not know of any elite athletes with autism proving the importance of increasing awareness.  Her profile, which was also shared throughout UKA’s internal channels, highlighted how tough the pandemic has been for people with autism and Mulvaney made some positive suggestions on how athletes like her could be supported, for example, the wearing of a wristband along with increased education for officials on how to approach athletes with autism in order to reduce anxiety levels.

Inclusion Newsletter Launched

UKA, along with the Home Country Federations, has created a new quarterly update on inclusion activities within the sport across the UK.  Of interest to all in the athletics family, the first issue includes an update on work all the federations are doing on mental wellbeing during and after the pandemic, and a profile on hurdler, Ethan Akanni.  Read it here: http://www.uka.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Athletics-Inclusive-Newsletter-Q1-2021.pdf

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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