Equality, Diversity and Inclusion have always been important for Cambridge United...
The work of the Trust in particular has looked to reach all parts of our community from its inception over 10 years ago and to extend opportunity.
However, we recognised as a Board a year ago that we needed to do more to prioritise this area right across the Club. We did so recognising that diversity of thought and approach makes us stronger and at the same time wanting to be a Club that everyone feels is for them and where everyone feels welcome regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.
We know there will always be more to do and we are committed to trying to take positive steps forward. This is a continuous journey however we thought it helpful to give an update on some of the steps that have been taken across the Club over the last twelve months.
We know this has to start at the top so we set up a dedicated sub Group of the Board on Diversity and Inclusion last year. It has met a number of times since its inception and includes staff from across the Club.
We recognised that the Club’s HR systems needed to be professionalised and improved and have appointed Janet Mills to lead this area with specific responsibility for diversity and inclusion. We want to make sure we reach the widest talent pool across all parts of our society and have recently completed a diversity and inclusion audit across the Club as part of our desire to find improvements where we can.
Cambridge United signed up to the FA Diversity Code last year, one of only a handful of League 2 clubs to do so at the time. The Code sets targets for BAME and female staff numbers as well as providing practical tools to support Clubs in their efforts to recruit from more diverse backgrounds.
Like every club, we have more to do in this area but are committed to reporting to the FA publicly against our progress on an annual basis. We are pleased to have appointed two BAME members of staff to the first team playing side of the Club in the last six months. Both were outstanding candidates, obviously appointed on merit and are already making a very valuable contribution to the Club.
The Club’s application to be part of the PL and EFL Player to Coach Scheme was successful and we recruited Ronayne Marsh-Brown who joined us this summer. Ronayne played in the EFL for Macclesfield as well as a number of non-league clubs over his 15 year playing career. He also represented Guyana six times.
The scheme aims to identify a high potential coach for a work experience and development opportunity within the game, so that after the Scheme, they can become highly employable within the professional game. Simultaneously, the Premier League and EFL want to be able to recognise and support Clubs involved in the Scheme as Inclusion and Diversity role models. The Scheme provide a two-year rotational work experience and development programme with the Club acting as Ronayne’s base so he can take part in different parts of football functions within the Academy and Club in order to broaden his learning at the same as spending time in a variety of educational environments away from the Club.
We are very pleased to have Ronayne as part of the team at Cambridge United.
Cambridge Fans United (CFU) have done much over recent years to help ensure that the Club is welcoming to all parts of society, for example their work with Amber Belles - a female Cambridge United supporters group - and with the Community Trust to create a BAME specific football session for members of the community. We were pleased that the Club finished 3rd out of 92 clubs in the recent Fan Engagement Index.
Working with the Club, CFU have been prioritising outreach work over recent months to parts of our community traditionally under represented amongst the fan-base for example the Mosque on Mill Road, and there is a commitment to deepen these relationships wherever possible. At the same time, Cambridge United Supporters’ Panel (CUSP) are playing a pivotal role in our efforts to be a mentally healthy club in all areas.
Cambridge United is also proud to be an official supporter and partner of #HerGameToo and has worked alongside the Amber Belles to help amplify the message that football is for everyone and that sexism must be stamped out.
The Trust set out its new three-year strategy last month. It builds on the great work of the last 10 years and continues to prioritise diversity and inclusion recognising that Cambridge is one of the most unequal cities in the country and that we need to continue to promote opportunity for those who are often excluded.
The Trust’s great programmes are too numerous to mention here but include football sessions for many different groups - seniors, people with disabilities through to those with mental health challenges - as well as school assemblies to promote inclusion. It is also encouraging that more of our Academy players are taking A levels than ever before to help ensure even greater equality of opportunity.
We know there will always be much more to do. It is a team effort right across the Club - Board, staff, players at every level and fans - but we are United in Endeavour to be truly United for Cambridge.
Signed by Shaun Grady (Chair of the Board) and Godric Smith (Chair of the Board Diversity Sub Group) on behalf of everyone at Cambridge United.