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World Cup 2018. Be Inspired. Be Inclusive and Enable Individuals to Thrive

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It’s all over and sadly football is not coming home this year – but how we dared to dream! The boys from the Mersey, Thames and the Tyne as well as those from Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield excited a nation and brought people together to watch football that was at times inspired. For anyone under the age of 25 this was their first experience of a Men’s World Cup semi-final, not being in born when England last made it this far in a tournament. 

Much has been written and will no doubt continue to be about the tough backgrounds of some of the players, about the diversity of the squad and how it represents England in the 21st century. I think this detracts from the manager’s role, after all many other nations have footballers who have experienced much worse personal circumstances. Regardless of whether Gareth Southgate got his tactics right in the last game what he managed to do was to bring together a group of individuals, some of whom have not played regular football in the top flight to play together as a team, and a team with a passion and will to win.

All this talk of this being England’s most successful football team in a generation is untrue. The England women’s team is ranked fourth in the world and came third in the Women’s World Cup in 2015. Premiership teams such as Manchester City have hugely successful women’s teams and 45,000 fans watched the Women’s FA Cup final in May at Wembley, the fourth year in a row the attendance record was broken.

At a Creating Inclusive Cultures event earlier in the year Gavin Makel, Head of Women’s Football at Manchester City, spoke with passion and pride about what it takes to develop a successful team. I expect some would say that it should be a woman leading the women’s side and this is the case at some clubs. Surely it should be the best person for the job rather than the gender that matters? 

There were detractors too for having the ‘token’ woman pundit on the commentary teams of both ITV and the BBC. Notably none of the final games had females on the panels, why not? When will we get to the point of seeing people as who they are – experts in their field – without mentioning their gender?

The much bigger issue for football and wider society is why, when the England squad and football teams male or female are so diverse are there so few managers from ethnic backgrounds? We will be exploring these themes in our Creating Inclusive Cultures Conference in November with a focus on transparency and truths around diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

If this World Cup experience has shown us anything it is that good leadership is key to unleashing success. A respect for difference brings success and most of all, whether a player in a sports team or a team member in the workplace, what individuals require to succeed is an environment which enables individuals to thrive and give their best.

Fiona Triller, Programme Director. Creating Inclusive Cultures

For more information and to register for the forthcoming Creating Inclusive Cultures Conference 2018 What Works: Transparency and Truths.