Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy


Football is Open and Accessible For All

commitments for the development of our game

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

Forming an integral part of our long-term commitment to creating a game free from discrimination, we are proud to share our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy, the first ever published EDI strategy specific to Essex.

This EDI strategy, running until later in 2024, outlines key commitments across the protected characteristics to help promote and support inclusion across the county. It acts as a bridging document for the current season ahead of the release of refreshed focuses and targets in-line with our forthcoming overall strategy until 2028.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy


Equality Standard, Inclusion Advisory Group

The FA and County FAs are here to ensure everyone who is involved in football has a great experience - regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability or disability, faith or age. Both The FA and the County FAs are working to ensure everyone has the opportunity to be part of the game.

It’s vital that equality and inclusion are embedded within grassroots football. As an organisation, regularly review and reflect on the progress we’ve made in promoting and supporting work in this area.

The Essex County FA covers a large geographical area, stretching across 19 local authority areas from the London Boroughs of Newham, Barking & Dagenham, Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Havering through to Colchester, Braintree and Tendring, with a population of in excess of three million and with a diverse population of many different local communities.

Our 2024 Moving Forward Strategy sets an overall vision of “creating a united grassroots football environment that delivers football opportunity for all” and, as an organisation, we continue to work hard to achieve that. One of the key commitments to achieve that vision is to work towards achieving the FA Code of Governance for County FAs.

Inherent within the code is to be an inclusive and transparent decision-making body which is reflective of the local communities it serves. As part of that process, Independent Non-Executive Director positions have been created to form a pathway for suitably-skilled independent candidates to support board-level decision-making via an open application process.

Inclusion Advisory Group

The IAG recruits new and committed members, including an Independent Chair of the Group, through an open application process. The Chair is also co-opted onto the Essex County FA Board to help support board-level decision-making and assist with embedding equality and inclusion.

The role of the IAG is to provide informed advice and guidance to develop inclusive policies and practices which will help to promote accessible opportunity, engaging all sections of the community into football roles and participation at a grassroots level. The IAG helps to:

* share ideas and good practices
* develop strategies and policies with regard to inclusion and diversity around football participation
* engage networks/partnerships to increase participation within all communities
* formulate solutions

Our Inclusion Advisory Group is very valuable to the Essex County FA and supports the organisation to deliver various initiatives promoting equality and inclusion, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to be involved in football in a format which suits them. This includes:

* Unity Cup: a five-a-side tournament which engaged with a number of different faith groups across the county
* working with key partners to deliver specific programmes such as Just Plays and FA education programmes
* promoting and supporting, on an annual basis, the Rainbow Laces campaign
* receiving recognition at the London Football Awards for partnership project between the Essex County FA, the Muslimah Sports Association and London Sport for engaging Female Level 1 Coach Education Courses
* growing the number of female referees (90 as of 2019/20) and referees from ethnically-diverse communities (110)

GOAL OF intermediate level

Equality Standard

Members of the grassroots football community can play an important part in Essex progressing towards ‘Intermediate Level’ of the Equality Standard by completing a short, online profile survey.

Achieving this level is a crucial part of the overall Essex County FA ‘Moving Forward’ 2024 Strategy and the data collected will evidence underrepresented groups not participating in football so an equality action plan can be introduced. The Equality Profile Survey will also help to shape football inclusion projects in the future.
Equality Standard Update


Committed to Challenging and Eliminating Discrimination

We are committed to challenge and eliminate discrimination whether by reason of gender, sexual orientation, marital status, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, ability or disability, and to encourage equal opportunities.

We are also committed to promoting equality by treating people fairly and with respect, by recognising that inequalities may exist, taking steps to address them and providing access and opportunities for all members of the community.  We celebrate the diversity of society and are striving to promote and reflect that diversity within the County FA’s own structure.

With this in mind, we achieved the Preliminary Level of the National Standards for Equality in 2015 and we’re currently working towards the Intermediate Level, which demonstrates and measures our commitment to equality.

We have also developed a Moving Forward Strategy for 2018-21, setting out how we will promote the wide-ranging equality agenda across The FA’s four strategic goals of Sustaining and Increasing Participation, Coaching and Better Players, Better Training and Playing Facilities and Football Workforce. It outlines the action that the county will be taking to ensure equality of opportunity for those administering and playing the game.

If you have any queries or questions relating to this statement, or any issues relating to equality generally, please contact us on (01245) 393090.

Working Together

We will all work together, alongside The Football Association, on our inclusion priorities over the coming years. These are underpinned by three principles of change:

* ensuring governance and leadership is diverse and modern
* removing any obstacles to access and progression in coaching, talent development or personal development pathways
* enshrining equality, diversity and inclusion in our day-to-day operations

In order to make a difference, The FA run and support leadership programmes for women, BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) and young people and adhere to the Government’s code for governance in sport.

We also examine pathways and promote inclusion and access for coaches, welfare officers, club/league officials, players, coaches and tutors, and we challenge ourselves with measurable targets which deliver on diversity and inclusion outcomes.

We work with a variety of stakeholders on topics such as mental health and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) to ensure people feel safe and included in football. You can find out about these and many more on The FA’s website.

Football Leadership Diversity Code


The FA have launched a version of the Football Leadership Diversity Code tailored for the National League System, women’s pyramid and grassroots football, aiming to tackle inequality and improve the representation of diverse groups across senior leadership positions, wider team operations and coaching roles.

The Football Leadership Diversity Code has been developed in collaboration with club leaders, community football representatives, County FA Chief Executives and others across the game to ensure English football, at all levels, better represents a modern and diverse society.