BCOMS founder Mann: Lack of diversity ‘unacceptable’

By JON HOLMES, home page editor for Sky Sports Digital

In October, Leon Mann, founder of BCOMS (Black Collective of Media in Sport) organised the D Word2 conference tackling lack of diversity in the industry. This week he launched the D Word2 guide in central London. 

The guide offers expert guidance on how to address under-representation across broadcast, written and online media in sport. 

To mark the launch there was a Q and A session with a panel consisting Guardian head of sport Owen Gibson, sports journalist and recent host of 2016 GLO CAF awards Mimi Fawaz, UK sports partners manager at YouTube Dan Pheysey, and the UK’s first black sports editor of a national daily newspaper, Kadeem Simmonds from the Morning Star. Channel 4 News sports reporter Jordan Jarrett-Bryan hosted the event.

“The lack of diversity in the sports media right now is unacceptable, and
we need greater commitment and conviction from
 decision makers to change this.”
– Leon Mann, founder BCOMS 

In October I took away five things from D Word2:

  1. Role models inspire others and mentoring helps combat nepotism
  2.  Self-confidence, attention to detail and fresh ideas get you noticed
  3. Sports stories that reflect diversity tap into the new audiences that media organisations are desperate to reach
  4.  Recruiters must be prepared to do things differently in order to discover diverse talent
  5. If you represent one diversity strand, you can empathise with the struggle faced by others 

Tuesday’s speakers and guests offered further insight – here’s a selection:

Leon Mann: “The guide underlines the need for urgency. We need to get these stats under the noses (of leaders and decision makers). It’s not a moan, it’s offering solutions. Follow us on Twitter (@bcomstweet) and you’ll see we’re putting out job opportunities, we’re lobbying and talking to bosses – we’re not going away.

“If we ask the sports rights holders, the people selling the rights to their sports, to ensure that there’s a contractual clause within… to say ‘we want to see greater diversity as part of our own commitment to our own sporting product’… it makes it interesting. It might give those sports bosses a push.”

Tom Perez, head of comms, Football Beyond Borders: “Events like this are essential, because people who are interested in making the world a better place through sports and media can come together and share ideas, challenge ideas… if you don’t have people from different backgrounds and ways of thinking, then you’re not going to challenge your own prejudices and you’ll never learn.”

Kadeem Simmonds, sports editor, Morning Star, with advice to aspiring sports journalists: “Work hard, and don’t say no. A lot of people only want to cover the big events – Premier League, Anthony Joshua etc. Expand your horizons. Have four or five different sports in your portfolio.”

When asked about the D Word2 guide launch, Simmonds added: “Events like this are important because they give people the chance to network. It’s really important to highlight the lack of diversity in sports media and it’s not going to change unless you force the issue.”

 To find out more on D Word2, click here and to download the guide click here

The SJA report on the D Word2 conference in October:

Diversity conference highlights sports media deficit