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Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

The image shows four different scenarios for equality, equity, reality and liberation

What is equality?

At its core, equality means fairness: we must ensure that individuals, or groups of individuals, are not treated less favourably because of their protected characteristics.

Equality also means equality of opportunity: we must also ensure that those who may be disadvantaged can get the tools they need to access the same, fair opportunities as their peers.

What is diversity?

Diversity is recognising, respecting and celebrating each other's differences. A diverse environment is one with a wide range of backgrounds and mindsets, which allows for an empowered culture of creativity and innovation.

What is inclusion?

Inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued. An inclusive environment can only be created once we are more aware of our unconscious biases, and have learned how to manage them.

Equality v's Equity 

Equality has to do with giving everyone the exact same resources, whereas equity involves distributing resources based on the needs of the recipients.

In the above image you see four different scenarios:

  • Equality - in this first image everyone is given the same supports. They are being treated equally. The reality is that we are not equal and we need to have proportionate steps, this is called;
  • Equity - it can also be referred to as 'proportionate equality'. Here individuals are given different supports to make it possible for them to have equal access. They are being treated equitably. The Equality Act 2010 steps in here (see section on the law below).
  • Reality - this represents the reality of people that are engaging in sport and physical activity, some will already have several steps up, whereas others will have many barriers to participation, this is depicted by the person in the mud who will need more support putting in place. 
  • Liberation - All three can see the game because the barrier was removed. The cause of the inequity was addressed. The systemic barrier has been removed.  

Inequalities in sport & physical activity

Sport England have identified several groups that have low participation in sport and physical activity, these can be seen on their page on target groupsThey are putting measures in place to address this, some of these include: 

Making activity accessible

It’s tempting to stereotype people who are inactive, particularly if you love sport and being active and can’t imagine not doing it. But people are inactive for a host of different reasons and their habits can vary dramatically at different times in their lives. 

Programmes and projects must start with the needs of the individual  – offering them activities when and where it suits them, and where they feel comfortable. From walking to table tennis, rounders to swimming, we know that these activities have a good track record of appealing to those who are inactive. The key is finding something enjoyable.

To start with the needs of the individual, you must be customer centric. We have some templates to help you with this, please contact us feedback@activecumbria.org 01228 226885 

Support Organisations

There are a range of organisations that can help you be more equitable and help those groups of people that are under-represented in sport and physical activity.

The Law

We must not forget that equality, diversity and inclusion is a legal requirement too, The Equality Act became law in 2010. It covers everyone in Britain and protects people from discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

What are the protected characteristics?

The following are the legal protected characteristics, under The Equality Act 2010:

  • Age

  • Disability

  • Gender reassignment

  • Marriage and civil partnership

  • Pregnancy and maternity

  • Race

  • Religion or belief

  • Sex

  • Sexual orientation

Discrimination on the grounds of any of these characteristics is illegal. The Act identifies two types of discrimination: direct and indirect.

  • Direct discrimination occurs when a person, because of a protected characteristic, treats another less favourably than he would treat those without the characteristic.
  • Indirect discrimination occurs when a person applies a “provision, criterion or practice” which, although applied to persons with different protected characteristics (e.g. males and females) puts one group of persons at a particular disadvantage (e.g. disadvantages females but not males).

Application in the sporting context

The Act’s prohibition of discrimination applies only in defined areas, such as employment, services and public functions. Several of these areas are relevant in the sporting context, including: 

  • sports clubs and associations are subject to the Act in relation to decisions about membership and the benefits and services provided to members
  • where sports organisations are ‘service providers’ under the Act (e.g. where events or training are provided to customers), they will be subject to the Act’s prohibition of discrimination
  • employees of sports organisations will be protected by the Act  

The governing bodies of individual sports have strategies to tackle discrimination – see, for example:


Sporting Equals Race Equality Charter logo

We have signed up to the Race Equality Charter from Sporting Equals. If you are a small organisation based in Cumbria that would like to benefit from the Charter, but couldnt afford the entry level fee, please contact us feedback@activecumbria.org or 01228 226885