UK Coaching – progressing our inclusion journey through the Leading for Renewal programme

In this article we learn from Esther Jones, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at UK Coaching about the impact that the Inclusive Employers’ Leading for Renewal programme for sporting bodies is having for the organisation, its staff and coaches.

Inclusive Employers, using funding provided by Sport England and the National Lottery, is currently delivering a 2-year sports inclusion development programme called Leading for Renewal. This year the programme is working with 40 sporting bodies and 300 delegates in a cross-section of roles. This is one of the ways that Sport England are aiming to realise its vision to make more equal, united and connected communities.

Truly inclusive journeys start by looking inwards so what better place to start than within our workplace.  We are fully focussed on putting people first – both through our staff values and our commitment to being here for the coach.

UK Coaching is the UK’s leading charitable organisation for sports and physical activity coaches, championing the role of the coach across our nations and driving the opportunity that great coaching can deliver in transforming lives and building inspired communities.

We work to ensure that access to coaching is accessible for everyone, as well as to ensure that the coaching population is representative of the UK and the communities coaches work with.

It’s clear that there is a positive movement happening in our UK workforce right now. We are starting to take fundamental steps to better understand and cultivate inclusive teams, along with supporting values that are being shared both internally and externally. Yet we acknowledge that there is still a long way to go.

We have undertaken a series of initiatives within UK Coaching to understand the needs and requirements of our team, particularly to enable each team member to feel that they belong. As with most journeys, this is just the beginning. We are more determined than ever to focus on diversity and inclusion in the coaching community and in our own organisation.

Why did you get involved in the Leading for Renewal programme?

We fully embraced the opportunity the programme offered to learn and share with Inclusive Employers and others in the sector around inclusive best practice, to help us shape our practice and thinking moving forward. We have been using the Leadership for Renewal (LFR) programme as a catalyst to help us facilitate conversations, research and action. 

LFR has also enabled us to upskill staff and support our people to learn more about inclusion. We have been facilitating ongoing discussions about how we ensure that UK Coaching is an inclusive organisation internally, as well as for the coaching community we serve.

What have you found the most useful part of Leading for Renewal so far?

LFR has helped us to set an inclusion framework for the business, which has led to opportunities to:

  • involve colleagues across all levels of the organisation, enabling us to have shared learning across teams and departments, having conversations and sharing ideas internally – keeping it high on the agenda for everyone.
  • work with other partners in the sports sector, where staff have collaborated through some really useful conversations, workshops, shared ideas & learning, and networking with a like-minded, eager to learn, collective.
  • explore some of the tools shared by Inclusive Employers, helping us to utilise some elements that we can now embed into our internal processes to aid inclusive leadership and culture moving forwards.

What advice would you give to any organisation looking to further their inclusion journey?

Ensuring that inclusivity measures are more enduring than simply a one-off project is key. By working with experts, you can really get under the skin of what true inclusion means to both individuals and the business outputs, as well as the impact that then has on society. Inclusion needs to underpin all areas of the business, leaving no stone un-turned!

By planting the seed of inclusion at the heart of your business, you can then nurture this to grow across teams and throughout the whole business.  It is essential that inclusion becomes at the heart of the work of the organsation and not just left to one member of staff or department.  Everyone has a role in defining what inclusion looks and feels like in their organisation as well as in the services they provide (including the service users).  Everyone has a role to make sure this is achieved.

Finally, making time to learn, share and network internally as well as with other organisations is really important.  It can help you to identify the things that you are doing well in, as well as uncover areas for further development.

To find out more about Inclusive Sport and the Leading for Renewal programme, click here.