Sometimes it feels as if I’m living in 1970, not 2020. Since when was it acceptable to use the term coloured? Yet that’s exactly what the UK’s Football Association (FA) chairman Greg Clarke did this week in what turned out to be a car-crash of a grilling by members of parliament.
Clarke had been summoned in front of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday to discuss his role in ‘Project Big Picture’, a controversial proposal to see the Premiership reduced from 20 to 18 clubs, and one which would effectively place power in the hands of a self-selected group of nine big clubs.
It didn’t exactly go well. Clarke defended his part in ‘Project Big Picture’, but he then went on to make a series of answers to MPs, in which he used the term “coloured” to describe black, Asian and minority ethnic people and suggested that “different career interests” led south Asian people to choose careers in IT over sport.
He also described a gay player coming out as a “life choice” and recounted an anecdote about girl footballers being afraid to be hit by a ball.
I am in no way being sanctimonious here but really, these sorts of comments are unacceptable from such a high-profile public figure, especially the chairman of the FA.
After all, this is an organisation which only last month partnered with football’s equality and inclusion organisation to launch anti-discrimination campaign Take A Stand, which, in its own words, “aims to move from awareness to action by creating a culture where individuals take personal responsibility for being part of the change”.
Why do I mention Greg Clarke? Because his unfortunate comments come in the same week that rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) highlighted the slow growth of black representation in the US insurance industry.
According to S&P, with growing calls for diversity and a dearth of new talent, the US insurance industry has made some progress here, but such progress has been modest and as it says, in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody earlier this year racism became part of the conversation for corporate America, but data remains sparse.
The percentage of non- white employees in the insurance workforce stood at 21.4% in 2019, an increase from 19.8% the prior year according to data S&P Global Market Intelligence compiled from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The percentage of non-white insurance workers was just 15.3% in 2010.
So, progress of sorts, but there is clearly work to be done, with definite room at the top, as S&P specifically pointed to a continuing lack of diversity in insurance leadership, quoting Zurich North America Diversity and Inclusion Director Lauren Young:
“We should be doing a better job as leaders to really harness diverse talent and to really cultivate them so that they feel even if they don’t see themselves fully represented in leadership at the top of these organizations, they can still obtain these positions.”
Come on guys and girls- let’s do better! We expect more from our leadership.