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LEON MANN REFLECTS ON THE YEAR


2023 MUST BE THE YEAR OF REAL CHANGE FOR THE SPORTS MEDIA

2022 was a year of huge change in the UK. Three different Prime Ministers! The passing of a long reigning Queen. A men’s football World Cup in the winter… and before that England’s women brought football home!

But what has changed at BCOMS and, vitally, in the sports media over the last 12 months?

BCOMS workforce

First of all, BCOMS got some incredible staff. For more than 10 years, the movement has been driven by volunteers where we maximised the odd bit of funding for projects and the good will of supporters and members.

The appointment of Andrew Ducille as BCOMS Operations Manager has been a game changer. Having someone so committed and talented pushing our work forward week to week is the energy we have long needed.

I would also like to thank Tom Gayle for his work propelling BCOMS to a new level in the North of the UK. We had been very London-centric and that is no longer the case thanks to Tom’s hard work.

We also welcomed Lisa Leroux, as BCOMS social media lead, and built a network of talented volunteers to help us.

The positive position we now find BCOMS in would not have been possible without our brilliant Board and the leadership of our Chair, Drew Christie.

Partnerships

In 2020 following the Black Lives Matter protests we wrote to all the leaders in the UK sports media to ask what they were doing to address racial inequality in their business. We asked them to review their relationship with BCOMS. The responses were varied but helped us identify who was committed to working with BCOMS.

We now have powerful formal partnerships with most of the major broadcasters – ITV Sport, BBC Sport, BT Sport and TalkSport. We also have partners in the written press in The Times and The Sun.

Our work with Chelsea FC has helped fund vital qualifications for exceptional talents, and we’ve developed brilliant relationships with Arsenal FC, the Football Association, Manchester United, British Cycling, the Premier League, IMG, The Telegraph and most recently, Liverpool FC.

We are building relationships with progressive leaders week to week – and hope to formalise more partnerships in 2023.

Masterclass success

BCOMS masterclasses – supported by Nike and Meta in London and BBC Sport in the North – have made an increased impact with the industry really rallying round the initiative.

17 of the 25 talented young people in last year’s London cohort are now in full time employment in the industry. Meanwhile many of our alumni are making the impact we knew they would – winning awards and driving higher standards in the sports media. Scaling this up is a must for 2023. BCOMS Masterclasses are working.

D Word 4

Our D Word conference returned this year after a long absence forced by the Covid-19 pandemic. News UK hosted and sponsored an inspirational and challenging event bringing together the brightest minds in the sports media to find solutions to address the lack of diversity in the industry.

The day has been captured in an important good practice guide. This offers the sports media a resource that crystallises solid ways forward on diversifying the workforce and creating inclusive cultures.

The D Word is one of BCOMS best known pieces of work. It is vital the industry is monitored and a space is created to share ideas and thoughts. We are proud to be leading the way here.

Please find and read The D Word 4 Guide here.

Collaboration 

We ended 2022 with an announcement that BCOMS would be working more closely with TAGS, Sports Media LGBT+ and Women In Football. This was a major step forward as our industry needs to take an intersectional approach to its equity, diversity and inclusion work. In coming together as expert groups we have formed a super power to assist the industry.

And this new energy is crucial to finding urgent ways forward. Two years ago we heard pledges from all corners of the sports media about creating real change, but a quick look at the leadership teams across the industry and it tells another story.

The saying goes, “a fish rots from the head” and without diversity at the very top of the sports media I struggle to see the leadership needed to drive the change promised. But with strategic and targeted recruitment and also a genuine belief that diversity means better business results – we can move this forward.

Summary

So in summary, there are good things happening and there is strong potential for the change leaders keep promising during their annual Black History Month statements.

BCOMS is growing and working with those who are serious about this challenge. It’s not easy to unpick decades of neglect on these issues but we are driving strategies, getting out into communities and I firmly believe the collaborative approach with partners is the right one.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all BCOMS supporters a happy new year. We look forward to making an impact with you in 2023.

Yours in Sport,

Leon

 

 

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