6 CALLS TO ACTION
The Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance has developed six areas of focus that we believe will lead to the best practices for equity, inclusion, and anti-discrimination within National Sports Associations (NSOs) worldwide.
Equitable Representation of Employees and Board Members
We live in a multicultural pluralistic society, but as we so often see, boardrooms and workplaces do not reflect that. Often these highly influential, decision making positions are predominantly filled by white people. If they do have a person of colour, they are often used to fill a diversity quota, become tokenized, and wield no meaningful power or influence. Appointing BIPOC to positions of influence within the organization can help facilitate the change needed to connect and reflect the ideas and identity of constituents they govern.
The barriers for reporting bias incidents are so complicated that they hinder the possibility of effectively addressing these serious and oftentimes traumatizing experiences of racism and discrimination. From speaking with and hearing stories of discrimination from several skaters, coaches, and parents, it is evident that the culture of skating has a created sense of fear in reporting these incidents. Many are scared to come forward to organizations such as SafeSport for fear of retribution from clubs, coaches, and/or federations.
Along with that the process can be complicated and lack transparency. Complainants need to feel safe, the process transparent, the steps to reporting need to be clear (who, where, when, and how), and policies that lead to reprisals for bringing these complaints must be removed. Most importantly, the process of policy change must include the voices and perspectives of racialized athletes as well as their allies.
Education is an invaluable tool to combat and eliminate identity-based discrimination. Many are oblivious to the history and present systemic racial discrimination worldwide : systemic racism also extends into sports like figure skating.
Through mandatory continuing education for coaches, officials, and board members, there must be a robust curriculum on anti-discrimination. This curriculum should focus on how to approach these identities, i.e. race, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, and disability, via anti-discrimination. Education should not just be lectures, but should emphasize a social, political, and personal understanding and analysis of the of race, its mythic conception, as well as how one’s actions and words can affect the psyche and well-being of racialized and marginalized persons within the skating community. There must also be education on how to recognize, diffuse, and report identity-based discrimation as a bystander, ally, and/or a victim.
Race-Based Demographic Data
We believe that race-based data can track inclusivity within clubs and federations, and effectively measure progress within these entities. If clubs do not have this data, provinces, cities, and municipalities have demographic data that can be used to measure inclusion and design streams of funding that target underrepresented populations, based on the demographics of a given area.
Representation is everything, especially for potential young athletes that do not see themselves represented in a sport such as figure skating. Media plays an effective role in increasing this representation. For young athletes of color, seeing a person they can relate to, doing a sport that seems outside of their realm of possibilities is empowering and encourages them to take up the sport. Media can also be a tool for addressing racial, sexual, gender, and disability discrimination in the sport. For example, a media campaign on how to recognize, speak out, report, and empower those who witness or are victims to these acts of discrimination, could amplify the educational initiatives articulated here.
The wealth gap in certain countries is steadily growing and those disparities become even greater across race, gender, sexual identity, disability and geographic location. Skating is a very expensive sport, especially at the competitive level, with little to no public funding or subsidies. The link between racism and socioeconomic status are inextricable and cannot be ignored. As described by Bruce Kidd, organized sport is a practice historically rooted in classism, masculinity, misogyny, and racism; only recently has it been shifting to become universal. The socioeconomic and participation gap between the public at large and athletes has increased due to the dogma of neoliberalism (erosion of public funding and support) and elitism in sport.