On 26th June, the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) published a report detailing the findings of its investigations into the state of equity in cricket.
In its executive summary, they state “evidence shows that elitism alongside deeply rooted and widespread forms of structural and institutional racism, sexism and class-based discrimination continue to exist across the game.”
According to the report, 50% of respondents have experienced discrimination in the previous five years, with the figures being substantially higher for people from ethnically diverse communities.
Discrimination has no place in sport, or anywhere, and to find that racism is ‘entrenched’ in cricket shows that immediate mitigation actions must be taken.
Promoting a speak-up culture and empowering the voices of those involved in cricket through an independent and anonymous feedback or whistleblowing reporting system is a crucial step towards improving the state of equity in cricket.
This idea is reinforced by the recommendations offered by the report to improve the culture of cricket in England and Wales. This article will detail a selection of these recommendations, with specific reference to the importance of speaking up, and ensuring proper processes are in place.
What has the ICEC recommended?
Recommendation 34: “We recommend that the ECB and wider game put in place processes to ensure that complaints can be raised and addressed… and the introduction of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians.”
The ICEC has recognised the importance of providing speakup or whistleblowing reporting avenues for individuals to raise concerns and report discrimination. Through fostering a speak-up culture, and providing processes to increase confidence in speaking up, levels of transparency can be improved.
Ensuring they are aware of concerns that exist within the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), or within the wider public regarding the EBC, is a vital step towards improving cultural health. Before action is taken, you must be aware of the transgressions and misconduct taking place within an organisation.
The use of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians or offering anonymised whistleblower hotlines are a great way to increase this confidence and the volume of necessary and important disclosures.
Recommendation 30: “We recommend that the ECB ensures that centralised training and specialist support is available to all cricketing organisations (including leagues and clubs) so that they are properly equipped to deal with complaints relating to discrimination and any associated complaints process.”
Ensuring managers, and other senior members of staff, are trained sufficiently to identify unacceptable behaviour, and support those making whistle blowing disclosures throughout the entirety of the complaints and investigation processes, is a crucial step towards creating a workplace where everyone is afforded dignity. The ICEC has recognised this and recommended that the appropriate people are trained sufficiently to act effectively during the process of responding to a complaint.
Recommendation 4: “We recommend that the ECB develops a programme of ongoing ‘culture health checks’ to ensure that it can track and monitor the progress of its initiatives to improve the cultural health of the game.”
Regular checks of the processes in place that allow voices to be heard when reporting wrongdoing, and those responsible to be held appropriately accountable, demonstrates an organisation’s ongoing commitment to improving equity and culture.
By reviewing their speak up investigation and disclosure processes, they can ensure that they are as robust and effective as possible. It is also imperative that organisations continuously communicate the measures in place to safeguard their employees and stakeholders. This may be through internal communication channels, or physical promotional assets such as posters.
What steps should be taken?
Independent whistleblowing hotline
Fears of repercussions or retaliation can discourage people from making a disclosure.
This allows wrongdoing to continue and become commonplace. The failure to provide a reliable, trusted and anonymous employee hotline or external whistleblowing service provider is often the reason for this.
Organisations can demonstrate their commitment to confidentiality, and the security of their employees, by offering an independent and external whistle blower hotline service.
Investigations Support and Reviews
In order to maintain the cultural health of your organisation, it is necessary to review your processes. Consulting an independent whistleblowing specialist services provider to aid you in this review can help increase the efficiency, reliability and security of your processes.
Moreover, using internal personnel to investigate allegations can raise questions over the integrity of an investigation and the reliability of its outcome. Outsourcing your investigation process demonstrates your commitment to a thorough and impartial investigation.
Whistleblowing is a unique situation. Whistleblowing reporting managers who have not received training can feel overwhelmed or out of their depth when a whistleblowing case arises. Arranging training sessions for your workers, created bespoke for your business, can help avoid the risk of fallout from a poorly conducted or managed investigation.
Similarly, individuals must know how to make a disclosure. Educating your employees on your whistleblowing policy and their rights in making a disclosure helps to develop a culture of openness, transparency, and integrity. Whistleblowing training for employees is necessary to prevent and mitigate wrongdoing in the workplace.
The “racism, class-based discrimination, elitism and sexism” that the report found to be “deep rooted” in the sport are entirely unacceptable. These facets of the ECB’s culture have been permitted to permeate and grow due to a lack of encouragement for individuals to speak up against wrongdoing.
The recommendations offered within the report demonstrate the importance of effective reporting avenues, investigation processes and training when suspected wrongdoing has been raised.
All sporting bodies and organisations have an obligation to participants, either recreational or professional, to protect them from discrimination. Sporting communities should exist to develop a sense of belonging, teamwork and camaraderie, not further divisions within society. This extends beyond cricket: regardless of the sport, all governing bodies, teams, and individuals should make a conscious and active effort to ensure their sport is inclusive of all people.
Taking affirmative steps to recognise problems within an organisation and actively combat wrongdoing and discrimination is vital to improve cultural health and wellbeing.