Rainbow Laces Day: Bolton Wanderers’ dedication to EDI and LGBT+ Inclusion

For Bolton Wanderers Football Club and Bolton Wanderers in the Community, equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is at the forefront of everything we do. We are proud to be taking part in the EFL’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Code of Practice, and we are committed to the Football Association’s Leadership Diversity Code. Both BWFC and BWitC are making leaps forward with regards to encouraging Hate Crime reporting from the community of Bolton, both on match days and within wider community engagement. We are proud to say that all BWFC, BWitC and Bolton Whites Hotel staff are undergoing Hate Crime Awareness training, courtesy of Greater Manchester Police.

At BWitC, Phil Mason (CEO) is the Strategic EDI Lead, Beth Warriner is the EDI and Cohesion Lead operationally and Norma Rutherford is the EDI Lead at Board level; these three roles ensure that ED&I is a key focus at Board, Strategic and Operational levels. This ensures audits such as the Community Code of Practice and the EFL’s EDI Code of Practice are completed effectively and the benefits of those can be felt through everything we do, positively impacting the local community.

BWitC have a whole programme area dedicated to ED&I and Cohesion, and projects within this include an LGBT+ Youth provision, female sport engagement and leadership projects, BAME-specific provisions for youth and football engagement, and community engagement projects to support the cohesion of different communities; uniting people from different cultures, backgrounds, religions and ethnicities in a safe and welcoming environment.

With regards to recruitment, we acknowledge that we are working towards diversifying our workforce, so that we are representative of the local community and better placed to serve all communities effectively. We ensure that there is disclosure on our vacancies page to state that “we welcome and encourage applications from underrepresented groups as well as those from diverse backgrounds. Appointment for new roles will be based on merit alone, regardless of age, (dis)ability, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, religion/belief and sexual orientation.” In the first instance, applications are looked at anonymously, in an effort to avoid unconscious bias.

BWitC are proud to have been part of the working group for a national LGBT+ inclusion programme, created by LGBT+ charity Stonewall and the Premier League Charitable Trust. ‘Tackling Homophobic, Biphobic, Transphobic (HBT) Bullying’ training has been created in two different formats; one to support staff within Club Community Organisations (such as BWitC) to tackle HBT language and behaviour, and the second is to support Secondary School students in tackling HBT bullying and language, both in and out of school. The schools training pack focuses on supporting young people aged 11+ to build their knowledge of introductory LGBTQ+ topics and empowers them to be an active ally. In 2022, we will partner with schools from across Bolton to deliver this vital training to students and teachers, so that young LGBT+ people feel more supported, heard and seen.