Organizing group meals where everyone can learn about each other's cultures by sharing food is a great way to promote diversity on a sports team. Inclusion is about adopting proactive behaviors, options and actions to make people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities feel welcome, respected and that they belong to the club. Being inclusive is about following the best practices of what sport should be so that everyone can make the most of it. The inclusion of diverse people, which goes far beyond gender and race, can be a key differentiator between companies and generate industry-leading profitability.
The benefits of openly celebrating differences are abundant. When people feel included, empowered and respected, trust and a sense of belonging are generated within the organization. From a business point of view, this leads to an increase in creativity, innovation and productivity. Everyone should have the opportunity to actively participate in the sport of their choice, in whatever capacity they choose.
An additional consideration involves the increase in mergers and acquisitions in the sports industry, which sometimes involve global companies and can cause employees to work with and for people from diverse backgrounds. A study that mapped the relationship between performance and diversity in national football teams showed a strong positive correlation. Perception, for example, creates problems, since gender stereotypes tend to influence the willingness of parents to encourage their sons and daughters equally to play sports. Sports and clubs across the country are losing entire groups of potential members, players, administrators and volunteers.
To encourage people from all backgrounds to participate in sports, athletic departments, sports associations and other relevant bodies must recognize the need to start developing and implementing diversity strategies today. This foundation, which is exemplified by team sports, is part of the creation of an inclusive environment in any industry. Sports are a way of bringing people together, no matter where they come from, what they look like, or their skill level. Conversely, disadvantages related to team diversity include lack of cohesion, increased stress and communication, deterioration of team performance, and reduced effectiveness and productivity.
Despite legal mandates, sports organizations that lack a diverse workforce tend to face ethical challenges, especially at a higher level (that is, inclusion goes hand in hand with diversity, in the sense that an inclusive environment is one in which all people are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources and contribute fully to the team's success). This applies to every department of a sport, be it administration, refereeing, training and most important of all - athletes.