Diversity in the workplace – are developments at the FA a game changer?

    Diversity in the workplace – are developments at the FA a game changer?

    Football, they say, is a game of two halves. However, the concern has been that when it comes to recruitment, FA recruitment policy has been decidedly one dimensional.

    In essence, there is concern that whilst grass root talent in football comes from an ethnically diverse community, this is not reflected in FA management and coaching positions which are dominated by white males.

    Not for the first time, therefore, a chap by the name of Rooney has been called upon to put things right. In this case, however, we’re not talking Wayne but Dan, an American who made it mandatory at the NFL in American football to shortlist and interview one black and ethnic minority (BAME) candidate.

    It has been decided that a similar policy should apply to FA appointments.

    The argument is that this will level the pitch. Inevitably, however, critics argue that it is tokenism and that shortlists should be purely on skill and fit, with the successful applicant appointed only on merit.

    In response to this criticism is the argument that BAME candidates approach the recruitment a goal down before they start and this is the only way of redressing the balance.

    So, is such “positive action” likely to be a feature of employment practice moving forward?

    Quite possibly, given the trend towards transparency through equal opportunities and gender pay monitoring. At present it appears all too easy for employers, if so inclined, to pay lip-service to equal opportunities.

    Of course, a candidate can challenge the decision not to recruit but, in reality, winning a case of discrimination in such circumstances is unlikely to be easy. That said, merely shortlisting BAME candidates is unlikely to make any great difference when interview performance is the determining factor.

    Many discrimination claims are lost by Claimants on the Respondent’s argument that regardless of how good the candidate was on paper, their performance on the day let them down.

    However, the FA’s decision is notable as it does mark a step-change which could become more commonplace amongst other organisations who want to “prove” their equal opportunities credentials.

    Please contact a member of our Employment Law team if you have any questions or queries about this or any employment issue.

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