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On the eve of Black History Month, Mark Bullingham writes about our equality aims

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Black History Month offers us an opportunity to reflect on one of the most crucial societal issues of our time.

In recent months the important conversation around equality and diversity has risen in the public’s consciousness and has been discussed and felt across all areas of society. Many of us have been shocked, angered and dismayed by repeated incidents of racial injustice leading us to question how this can still be a reality in 2020.

Whilst the FA is an apolitical organisation, we have shown support for the Black Lives Matter message and share the belief that it is wholly unacceptable to treat Black people disadvantageously because of the colour of their skin.

For us, the message is simply about ensuring equal opportunities for all. Football’s collective response has been powerful, but the profound sense of social injustice we feel must – and will – be used as motivation to introduce meaningful and tangible change.

As guardians of the game, we have a responsibility to lead from the front, using the power of football to help drive positive change, both on and off the pitch. We are committed to making positive change happen.

In June, we announced the creation of the Football Leadership Diversity Code, led by Paul Elliott, which will launch during Black History Month. It will see clubs and organisations across the game commit to embedding greater diversity across their senior leadership teams, operations teams and coaching setups, with targets and transparent annual reports. We hope that changes in the composition of coaching and leadership teams will help introduce a systematic shift in our game.

I believe that this Code can have an indelible impact on football, making essential and positive changes to our game. But we cannot do it alone. We are asking clubs across the Premier League, EFL, National League System, Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship, as well as the leagues themselves, to join us.

What underpins this Code, and our other diversity and inclusion initiatives, is a genuine desire from many parts of football for meaningful change. Players, coaches, club officials and media have all contributed to the Code and we thank them for their input.

In recent years, we have prioritised improvements to tackling the issue of discrimination within English football, with tougher regulatory sanctions; inclusion programmes embedded across the country to help break down barriers and unite communities; education programmes for perpetrators; and we're always reviewing our internal processes to see where we can make further improvements.

We launched our three-year equality, diversity and inclusion plan – In Pursuit of Progress – in 2018, with clear targets and ambitions to drive meaningful change within our organisation and across the game. The plan delivers initiatives primarily focused around gender and ethnicity across our general workforce and leadership roles, to ensure that the diversity of those leading and governing football better reflects both the modern game and our wider society.

The original article can be found here.

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