However, we also recognise that there are barriers to participation and inequalities and to successfully work to overcome these we must broaden our knowledge and understand what this means for children and young people. UK Sport say that ‘Equality is about recognising and removing the barriers faced by people involved, or wanting to be involved in sport. It is about changing the culture of sport to one that values diversity and enables the full involvement of disadvantaged groups in every aspect of sport.’

Inequalities in sport - bridging the gap

In November 2004 the UK Sports Councils launched ‘The Equality Standard: A Framework for Sport to help address the inequalities that exist within the sports sector.’ It is a framework to guide sports organisations towards achieving equality. The Sport England Active People Survey 2011 discovered that there are significant inequalities in sports’ participation in the UK at all levels (including participants, coaches, officials, volunteers and employees). Across the UK these characteristics include: gender, disability, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age, social background, gender reassignment, religion or belief, political opinion, marital/civil partnership status and dependents. Research indicates that there are various barriers which hinder sports participation by people from these under-represented groups.

The Equality Standard developed legalisation which ‘ensures that people who share these characteristics are protected from discrimination and harassment. In addition, public sector bodies, such as the sports councils and local authorities, must comply with certain general and specific duties.’ (UK Equality Standard Resource Pack, February 2014, by the Sports Council Equality Group).

A 2019 survey conducted by Marine resources concluded that there was ‘a significant imbalance between the sexes within the marine industry, with just 15.2% of those questioned recorded as female.’ It also highlighted a decline in the number of young people entering the marine industry and a more male dominated workforce.

Bringing people together through sport and the outdoors

However, here at Rockley we are proud to be bucking these trends! Last season there was almost a 50:50 % male/female split of our seasonal staff and within our full-time staff, the team is fairly much split 50:50 male/female also. Our Managing Director, HR Manager, Marketing Manager and Head of Education are all female, demonstrating that gender is not important in our business. In addition to this the number of young females joining our education course was up to 52% in our last intake. We are definitely an equal opportunities employer with appointments made on ability not gender! We want to make sure our sport is inclusive to all including women and girls by using good practice examples provided by organisations such as Women in Sport and leading by example.

At Rockley, we are also committed to addressing the barriers faced by people from ethnic minority backgrounds by working with a host of agencies such as the RYA and Sport England. We are committed to addressing issues of equality in opportunity and striving to create an environment where participation is open to all and where individuals feel welcomed. We are constantly reviewing our practices and following advice from relevant organisations. Sport, exercise and the Outdoors is such a power tool to bring people together and we hope that this can be done in a safe and enjoyable way for everyone.

Written by Cath Hough


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