The 2023 Sporting Equals Race Representation Index (RRI) has seen the highest engagement rate ever, hitting 92%.

This is up from 75% in the first year and 86% in the second year. The commitment shown by National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to improving race equality in sport should be celebrated across the sector.

Through conducting this data collection and reporting it the sector shows positive action. Sporting Equals believes this achievement can herald a sustainable level of transparency and accountability to the public. By surpassing 90% engagement the sector has moved to a position where taking part is seen as a collective responsibility and expectation now. 

As well as hitting the highest ever engagement rate the 2023 RRI welcomes four first time submissions from NGBs; The Football Association (The FA), GB Boxing, British Handball and British Volleyball. The participation of these four NGBs proves that it is possible to take part regardless of resources and time.

It is a matter of priorities and these four NGBs, taking part for the first time show a cultural shift in accountability. All four of these receive public money, and of course football dominates the sports media landscape, so many are pleased to see this increase in engagement. 

Alongside these four NGBs British Horseracing have taken part. This is particularly noteworthy as they receive no public funding. The RRI was set up to track the journey of publicly funded NGBs in becoming more ethnically diverse.

Because of the public funding it is only right that those organisations are transparent and accountable. Therefore, Sporting Equals believes particular praise is due for British Horseracing who were not under any obligation to provide this information.

When they asked to take part it was made clear to them that their grading would very likely not be high. Despite this warning they still wanted to participate as they could see the value created in participation.

British Horseracing have set an example to all in the sport sector with their willingness to be vulnerable in the RRI. Most categories have held at the same grade throughout the three years of reporting.

While this lack of improvement is disappointing, its often appreciated that change takes time. Additionally, each year more NGBs have participated in the RRI but the grades held across most categories, meaning we have a consistent picture across the sport sector.  

That said one category has deteriorated each year, athletes. Starting in 2021 this was Grade C on average, it was Grade D in 2022 and Grade E in 2023.

An interpretation of the data here is that the additional NGBs participating has prompted this result. The increase in NGBs taking part each year has meant more athletes / players of white ethnicity have entered the data pool, lowering the average grade. 

Regardless, celebration of the progress is made in the sector regarding engagement and accountability. NGBs are under pressure, as are all publicly funded organisations, so this commitment to transparency is a positive sign for the future. 

The average grade for each category was as follows:

Board: C  

Senior Management / Leadership Team: E 

Contracted Players: E 

Officials: E 

Coaches: E 


Arun Kang OBE (pic), Sporting Equals CEO, said: “The RRI benchmarks data on the decision makers within NGBs. Those that decide strategy, budget, interventions and select who enters the talent pathway, this enables us to ensure those of influence are reflective of the communities we seek to engage.”

Chair, Densign White MBE, added: “We are pleased to see a positive increase in the number of NGBs wanting to take part in the RRI survey. We have seen ongoing issues in sport where representation has been a factor in accountability and see this survey as a starting point for many NGBs to help embed diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of what they do.

“The RRI presents ongoing opportunities for NGBs to move beyond narratives of commitment to real demonstrations of transparent progress and meaningful change regarding race equality in sport” Professor Emeritus Kevin Hylton PhD, Special Advisor Sport Monitoring Advisory Panel 

EMD UK (Emotive, Music & Dance UK) has made remarkable progress in improving its diversity. It has also made significant progress over the three years in its Board diversity, achieving a C in RRI 2021-2022, a B in RRI 2022-2023, and an A in RRI 2023-2024.

EMD UK has also significantly progressed from achieving an F grade in its Senior Leadership Team in RRI 2021-2022 and RRI 2022-2023 to a B grade in RRI 2023-2024.