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Diversity in Science in Sport

We take the issue of diversity very seriously in our business, across both our PhD and SiS brands. We look at our company culture and how we engage with sports and wellbeing communities across the world.

Inside our business, we are committed to working on diversity. We are focused on the issue across our team and have also engaged with suppliers, for example ensuring recruitment partners are committed to diversity. Being a diverse organisation has to be an ingrained cultural norm; it has to be a core value.

The murder of George Floyd led to mass protests globally, and the emergence of Black Lives Matters. Companies in the sports industry, including SiS, fell over themselves to flood social media with BLM-related content. It left me feeling uncomfortable. Why have we only commented on racism now? Is this something that will result in meaningful change, or will we all move on in a few months?

For too long a period, we discussed how professional and Olympic cycling was almost exclusively white. But there’s the issue. We had discussed it but done nothing about it. We weren’t racist. But we weren’t anti-racist either. We were silent on the matter. Silence is the ally of racism.

A year ago, we entered into a dialogue with Dr Marlon Moncrieffe, a researcher and author at the University of Brighton. One of his important works is “Made in Britain: uncovering the life histories of Black-British Champions in Cycling”. This research-based paper lays out the systemic racism in competitive cycling. That was a reality check for us.

We decided that if we were to engage with the external world on diversity matters, it must become a part of the way we do business permanently. It was not a project, not something that falls out of favour when something else comes along. Like our internal diversity activities, it has to be a core value for our business.

Diversity is a broad remit for SiS. Women athletes. Asian athletes. Disabled athletes. Gay and lesbian athletes. Black athletes. And so on. We have involvement with athletes in several communities already. We are very active in women’s soccer. Disabled athletes are vital members of our elite ambassador roster. Black and Asian athletes represent our brands in several sports. But a glaring issue is the lack of Black representation in cycling.

Our approach has been to learn more, to listen to thought leaders across Black communities in our major markets of the UK and USA. Then we have sought to engage with elite cyclists and teams, grassroots athletes, and broader community-based cycling programmes. Again, the long-term philosophy is essential; we can’t just dip in for a year and then move on.

For 2021 we have put together a solid programme of activity. We are supporting the Williams brothers Legion of Los Angeles. In the UK we are supporting Black Cyclists Network. We are sponsoring promising British racer Red Walters. Los Angeles Bike Academy, a youth community programme receives our support.

It’s vital to help educate too. That’s where the initiative started. To that end, we are collaborating with Dr Marlon and his work on anti-racism in cycling. We are backing his new blog, and we are also sponsoring his series of webinars on anti-racism.

It’s a start. I hasten to say a start. We are under no illusions about the enormity of the problem of discrimination and racism in society. We must work at this continuously and listen closely. We seek to support communities and work towards lasting change. We support the change-makers looking to develop sport into a more welcoming environment for athletes from all communities across the diversity spectrum.

Racism, prejudice and discrimination have been present for hundreds of years, causing untold suffering. Whatever we do cannot remove that pain. But if we can make a tiny contribution, and hope that other companies can join with us, then perhaps we can start on the road to undoing some of this pain. If we can help to develop diversity and inclusivity in sport. If we can help to engender more social parity, more respect, and more dignity for people of all communities. That’s our hope.

Written By

Stephen Moon - CEO

Stephen is CEO of Science in Sport plc and has an extensive background in retail, specialising in consumer healthcare. Interestingly, Stephen graduated from INSEAD with a Diploma in Clinical Organisational Psychology in 2010, a qualification which underpins his executive coaching work with senior leaders from global organisations. Stephen spends time outside of work cycling, training at the gym, and asking other athletes around him what nutrition they use and why.