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Open letter regarding the Essex Cricket investigation

Dear extended Woodland community

 

Some of you will have seen in the news that Essex Cricket faces allegations of historic racism. Following allegations and reviews at other clubs, it has facilitated a deeper investigation into the cricket culture to give opportunity to address any possible discrimination. This process is not a quick one, serious questions get raised, and experiences shared and brought to light.

Both the ECB and Essex Cricket are reassuring us that the allegations are taken seriously and recently announced their investment into newly developed internal reporting structures and a comprehensive investigation.

We hope this moment can lead to a genuine push for a better, inclusive, and equal environment with investment into appropriate training and education for all stakeholders of the Club and cricket as a sport. 

Essex Cricket has reiterated that all allegations, regardless of when they took place, will be investigated thoroughly and independently. The Club also shared its commitments as outlined below with all club partners and the wider community. We hope that these and any related actions and findings will result in the Club being able to be part of a movement to create positive change. 

Woodland Group has a zero-tolerance policy towards racism and any form of discrimination and is committed to continuing to improve and provide better and more equal opportunities for all. 

As such, we are encouraged by the below efforts to improve and develop the Club and sport in general: 

  • Essex Cricket is working with Katharine Newton QC to begin a completely independent investigation into the allegations. The investigation commenced on 6 December 2021 and the findings will be presented to the Club in January.
    • Katharine Newton QC is an experienced and highly regarded practitioner who appears regularly in the employment tribunal, High Court and the appellate courts, including the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
    • Ms Newton has over 20 years’ practice in employment law and notably led the investigation into the allegations of race discrimination and bullying against the manager of the England Women football team in 2017.
  • A reporting channel has been set up for anyone who wishes to talk about their experiences with Essex Cricket. Anyone concerned can contact the Club, anonymously if they wish, by emailing equality@essexcricket.org.uk.
  • A ‘Game-wide Pledge’ was created which outlines a set of commitments for both the ECB, Essex Cricket, and the wider game. The agreed ‘Game-wide Pledge’ commitments are as follows:
  1. Set up a standardised approach to reporting, investigating, and responding to complaints.
  2. Fully promote the aims of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket.
  3. All those who work in cricket (both paid and voluntary) will take part in Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) training.
  4. Undertake a full review of dressing room culture in all international and domestic teams.
  5. Reassess player and coach education.
  6. Remove structural and cultural barriers in elite talent pathways.
  7. Conduct a full-scale review into the detection, enforcement, and sanctions against discriminatory crowd behaviour.
  8. All 18 first-class counties will create plans tailored to local communities to ensure venues are welcoming to all.
  9. Upgrade education, training, and ongoing campaigns in recreational cricket.
  10. Each organisation will deliver Board and Leadership Team diversity (30% female, representative ethnicity) by April 2022.
  11. Immediately adopt anonymised recruitment tools for all senior roles and ensure interviews for all roles are assessed by a balanced and diverse panel.
  12. From 2022, every senior executive employed across the game will have person EDI objectives.

In addition, the ECB will: 

  1. Undertake a review of governance and regulation in cricket.
  2. Commit to £25m of strategic funding over 5 years.
  3. Establish a new anti-discrimination unit within 6 months.
  4. Include EDI minimum standards within the criteria that is used to evaluate venues.
  5. Connect funds and central distributions with EDI minimum standards.
  6. Partner with Sport England and Perrett Laver to increase diversity of Boards.
  7. Report and publish annually on the game’s progress against its EDI goals.

We will continue to monitor and review the situation as it develops, and the outcome of the investigations and action taken once finalised. Should you have any concerns, please contact me or John Stubbings.

Kevin Stevens - Chairman

 

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