Majority of counties are failing to meet agreed ECB targets on diversity

  • Only 28 women among 158 board members across counties
  • Deadline of April 2022 to make changes appears unworkable

A survey of county board membership undertaken by the Guardian has found the majority have failed to meet the target of 30% representation of each gender, to which they committed more than two years ago, and exposes the hard deadline of April 2022 that the England and Wales Cricket Board is attempting to impose on them as far-fetched.

On Wednesday the ECB was forced to postpone publication of its plan to improve inclusivity in cricket while it negotiated with counties over the wording of this commitment. The board hopes to be able to publish a revised plan on Thursday, but it is clear that no agreement is likely to be reached without watering down this clause.

The Guardian found that of 158 current board members at the 18 first-class counties, according to the counties’ own websites or their most recently published reports or accounts, only 28 are women – less than 18%. Only Derbyshire, who have three women on a nine-person board, have unequivocally met the target, with Lancashire closest to joining them – six of the 16 attendees at their board meetings are women, but only two of eight are full members of the board.

As part of an agreement struck with the ECB in June 2019 over the distribution of broadcasting revenues, counties all signed up to the County Partnership Agreement that committed them to working towards appointing more diverse and inclusive boards. Specifically, they agreed to “adopt a target of, and take all appropriate actions to encourage, a minimum of 30% of each gender and a minimum of one board member from a BAME background”.

Fully 30 months later some counties appear to have made no progress whatsoever. Kent, for example, have a nine-person committee entirely composed of white men.

In the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal, and as they attempt to improve the currently toxic image of cricketing culture, the ECB has sought to emphatically affirm the game’s commitment to diversity. One part of this process has been the publication of its plan to impose a number of equality, diversity and inclusion goals, to which the game’s stakeholders would all commit. One of the actions demanded in the document is for counties to not just encourage but to “deliver board and leadership team diversity (30% female, representative ethnicity) by April 2022”.

This timescale has been widely dismissed as unworkable and the promise made by Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, to publish a fully agreed plan on Wednesday has been made to appear hasty. As one source said, “we’d rather it got done properly than done quickly”.

The remainder of the ECB’s proposed “five-point plan with 12 tangible actions” has been warmly received. The question now is whether, having publicly promised to deliver “a range of different points over 12 areas”, Harrison will end up producing a plan with only 11 actions, whether his organisation will come up with a completely new 12th proposal, or whether they will agree either to push back the deadline or to remove it altogether.


Simon Burnton

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Counties delay ECB diversity blueprint in aftermath of Rafiq scandal
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s plan to improve inclusivity within the sport in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal has been held up as counties dispute the timescale for making their boards and leadership teams more diverse

Exclusive by Simon Burnton

23, Nov, 2021 @9:44 PM

Article image
Counties urged by ECB to protect bowlers in truncated cricket season
Bowlers in this year’s truncated county season look set to have their overs capped and the new ball delayed under guidelines designed to counter the threat of injury

Ali Martin

14, Jul, 2020 @5:48 PM

Article image
Counties hope 2020 cricket season can still take place despite disruption
The ECB has produced a range of contingency plans for the summer and the £50m strategic infrastructure fund may be used to ease cashflow

Ali Martin

19, Mar, 2020 @6:41 PM

Article image
Counties should revolt against The Hundred and reverse the ECB coup | Matthew Engel
ECB directors have browbeaten and bamboozled counties into giving away their power – time for a Campaign for Real Cricket

Matthew Engel

08, Aug, 2018 @4:57 PM

Article image
‘I’m a cricketer, what makes me different?’ England’s black players on racism and exclusion
Forty years since the first black cricketer played for England, players open up on their experiences

Emma John

04, Sep, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
New chairman Watmore admits lack of ECB board diversity is unacceptable
The 11-member board of directors of the England and Wales Cricket Board is all-white and Watmore said: ‘That’s not acceptable going forward in the long run’

Ali Martin

01, Sep, 2020 @4:51 PM

Article image
ECB to mandate boardroom diversity as Eni Aluko urges football to follow suit
The ECB announced plans to mandate black, Asian and minority inclusion in boardrooms and Eni Aluko told MPs that football should do the same

Paul MacInnes

07, Jul, 2020 @6:08 PM

Article image
Breaking the silence on diversity has put cricket on hopeful ground | Ebony Rainford-Brent
The game is looking strong after a traumatic year, but there remains the challenge of truly reflecting society, and not just in terms of skin colour

Ebony Rainford-Brent

11, Jan, 2021 @1:55 PM

Article image
Counties balk at ECB plan for Championship restructure

ECB proposals to try to halt worsening county finances have been greeted with alarm after Durham were forced to admit that an Indian businessman had secretly invested £2.4m to part-fund redevelopment

David Hopps

29, Apr, 2010 @7:45 PM

Article image
Test match counties want larger share of ECB pie
England's Test match counties have asked the ECB for a higher level of central funding

David Hopps

22, Apr, 2010 @11:07 PM