Working on EUFA Women’s Euro 2022

OMG what a tournament!!!!  And whatever the result on Sunday I’m celebrating working on one of the most worthwhile and personal-to-me projects I’ve ever been part of within a clever and committed team at the National Football Museum, a city-wide team of event planners, Local Authority enablers, football legends and an FA team spanning the country. 

As always with the work I enjoy the most it involves me being part of something bigger than me. 

The heritage project I’m project managing for Manchester is an FA initiative funded by the National Lottery Heritage and Arts Council which is designed to celebrate new voices in the women’s game – this includes now-retired women’s football players including Lionesses – and fans – as well as young players. 

I’m absolutely privileged to work on this within the National Football Museum.

So far my team have interviewed 9 ex players and about 40 fans in the Fan Zone and we’re hosting two story and memorabilia collection days at the National Football Museum this Sunday and 10 August. We’ve already hosted so many community days and events. We’ve played our part.

Football was my first sport – the one I was banned from playing at my school and working on this project has enabled me to *really* see the change that’s been made in my lifetime. Being at the opening game at Old Trafford with to my dad was awesome – but so was the ‘See it to Believe it festival’ organised by Olivia Laker at Manchester FA where 550 + girls and women were playing on fabulously-maintained pitches in Wythenshawe in South Manchester. I asked one of the under 10s how her last game went. ‘I did a Beth Mead!!!!!,’ she delighted. 

I didn’t have female role models growing up. 

So whilst the tournament continues, so does our work at the National Football Museum. We’re processing our interviews so they become part of October’s Crossing the Line exhibition Part 2 and so that the archives of the museum become more gender balanced in line with the museum’s 50-50 target. 

I’m working my butt-off don’t get me wrong but the fact I believe my work is making a difference and I’m working with a great team makes me feel so very, very privileged. 

The SROI of sport and arts

I seem to have spent this year talking about the value of grassroots sport within the contect of global competitions. It’s incredible.

This year I worked on the Rugby League World Cup looking at the communication of their social impact programme – and I am currently working at the National Football Museum on Manchester’s arts and heritage programme for July’s Women’s Euros. As footbally was my first sport, this is very exciting.

Having always been sporty and having worked in CSR for twenty years+ taking my CSR learnings and community engagement focus into sport feels natural. I believe in its value – and that’s without the research funded by Sport England showing the ROI on grassroots sport as 3.91.

I am full of admiration for Jon Dutton’s leadership of the Rugby League World Cup and of the robust social impact programme’s he and the organisation’s Head of Social Impact, Tracy Power, is leading. Both of them believe passionately in the power of sport to reach commuities. And both of them know it’s not just in CSR programmes that an organisation makes a difference. It’s in the makeup of the organisation itself.

The decision to hold women’s men’s and wheelchair rugby at the same time was a gamechanger for inclusivity. I witnessed the team having conversations about equality of broadcasting and identified community stories about the power of rugby league that deserve to be showcased to celebrate the everyday everyplace power of rugby league to make a difference in a community.

It was so inspiring to speak to volunteers in rugby communities to see the impact of a club – bringing a commuity together, fundraising for facicilities and delivering weekly moments of joy – so it makes sense for the RLWC to have had a capital fundraising pot to enable clubs to do more of this.

It was gamechanging to speak to some of the RLWC’s community partners – they’re working with Rugby League Cares, Commuity Integrated Care, Movember and UNICEF – to learn how the organisation is using the tournament to open opportunities to talk about mental fitness and to engage marginalised communities in the tournament in so many different ways.

That’s what I am currently doing with the Women’s Euros – opening up the tournament to choirs to learn the anthems, photographers to take pictures in fanzones, recruit and train hertitage volunteers to interview and record fans and past players about their experiences of the women’s Euros past and present. There are so many community organisations working on the tournament in Greater Manchester alone – it’s inspiring every day.

Sport is a massive part of our culture. As is volunteering. I’ll be communicating more on social during the Women’s Euros as part of my own archive of the events and I will be encouraging the heritage volunteers to do the same.

Watch this space (or rather @sarahegalligan)

Sporting values are about playing fair – that’s why they create headlines when they don’t

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Sporting values are about playing fair – that’s why sport makes headlines when it doesn’t

Whilst every sector can have a negative impact on society, each also has a superpower in relation to its potential for the positive. And for me, working in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), sport is where it’s at. It brings excitement and spreads positive values within a community like no other sector. It gets to parts of a community that other sectors cannot reach.

I encourage organisations I work with – and the students I teach at AMOS Sport business school – to reflect on what they love about sport. Invariably they talk about love and passion; pride and community. Their strong emotional bonds are usually connected to strong sporting values including fairness.

Sport is intrinsically about fairness. ‘Sporting values’ imply that everyone gets a chance and that we start at the same starting line and we all have the same opportunity to arrive at the finishing line.

But that’s not the case, is it?

Conversations about the lack of diversity in sport, corruption in sport and human rights violations by regimes hosting megasporting events hit hard because they go against sporting values.

Supporters cheer player decisions to ‘take the knee.’ Fans don’t want to watch a match in a stadium impoverished ethnic minorities have died building. Sponsors don’t want to be aligned with lack of freedom of speech. And sporting bodies increasingly see their remit as the promotion of their sport to all within a community – and their relationship with their members is changing: rather than ‘setting the rules’, members are asking them to defend their interests.

And fans, sponsors and members mean money – which means sporting values have an economic value. And with the volume of conversations about diversity and transparency within sport getting louder, there are opportunities for sport to lead other sectors in creating transparent, diverse spaces and reach different parts of its local community.

We can look at this in relation to current activity around diversity in sport.

Diversity in Sport

There is a loud and broad conversation about providing opportunities (including media and participation) to a more diverse range of athletes. This is separate to the conversation about increasing diversity of employees within sporting organisations themselves. Lack of diversity in a workplace can have a direct impact on business decisions including broadcasting, funding, marketing and in effectiveness of business.

A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and gender-diverse companies are 21% more likely to earn more revenue. It’s a complex relationship and I encourage readers to explore the article but quite simply, in my classes I make the point that if we are only hiring straight white middle-class men, we will only ever have the best straight white middle-class men working for the organisation.

British Cycling is just one organisation committed to making its sport more inclusive at every level, from pro-cycling to community cycling and in its workforce. Their Our Ride diversity strategy was launched in 2021 and is also a key pillar to its overall business strategy.

Likewise, Sport England hired its first director of Diversity & Inclusion in 2021 whilst the Professional Cricket Association, British Badminton, British Canoeing and the Rugby Football League have also made recent first-time senior diversity hires. Whilst their remits will differ they are all likely to focus on increasing representation in their business and in the pool of athletes. We can expect to see more diverse sporting role models in coming years.

CSR has traditionally mirrored wider societal calls-to-action and this call for diversity is happening against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement, of calls for protection of transgender rights and of calls for more women in the boardroom and in this context, it’s natural that all sectors are seeing increased calls for equality of opportunity and visibility on the pitch / court, piste, track.

If we build it, will they come? It’s been proven that women’s sports attract fans to the small screen and to stadia. Neilson’s 2018 report , The Rise of Women’s Sports provides data on this and also finds that running women’s sporting competitions at the same time as male competitions increases support. With this in mind, things look positive for this year’s UK-based Rugby League World Cup which is hosting the men’s, women’s and wheelchair at the first time which is ground-breaking – and also hopefully good for ticket sales. Playing fair here could be its superpower growing recognition of rugby league outside of its traditional northern heartland and of its supporter-base.

And then there’s the capacity for sport to celebrate diversity at a community level. Most of the sport organisations I’ve worked with including Rochdale AFC run programmes that support and celebrate diversity in their community either by being based within a specific ethnic community or by running gender-specific or physically inclusive community teams.

The future

It’s clear that many sporting organisations recognise that they are key to their whole community – and that their values and actions should reflect this.

I encourage all organisations to reflect on how they are living their values – and how they are reflecting the values that attract more fans to them, more backroom staff to them, more players to them.

I expect to see organisations continuing to invest in the ‘social’ side of their CSR and ESG programmes. Investment in diversity and inclusion programmes in sport is in its infancy and we have lots to learn as to what works best.

What I also see is a movement of sporting organisations and national sporting bodies committed to measuring and showcasing the positive social impact of sport. When these learnings are shared with the wider sporting community, we’ll see a further increase in activity.

Won’t that be amazing?

Our Ride – from strategy to action

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Working with British Cycling on their diversity and inclusion strategy – launched today – means that as well as sharing my knowledge, I have learned a lot about British Cycling and more about inclusion challenges within cycling and I’ve been happy to be on an action-orientated group.

At the same time as working with British Cycling, I have been working on a communications strategy for a pro-cycling client. The process has been the same – I’ve reviewed organisational goals, talked to internal and external stakeholders, considered resources, made recommendations, agreed a final strategy with the board and recommended actions to deliver the strategy and a way to measure it. Without these, a strategy is expensive wrapping paper.

And now we act.

The actions will deliver the strategy’s pillars: creating an inclusive culture; making decision-making more reflective of society; developing a more diverse workforce; framing a powerful marketing and communications strategy; adapting the membership offering; developing an inclusive talent pathway and forming purposeful partnerships.

I’m encourage my cycling contacts to read the strategy and to see where they can support it through your actions. And I am encouraging all my contacts – cycling and non – to consider how you can mirror the strategic aims in your own organisation.

I am looking forward to helping British Cycling achieve their goals. They are my goals too – I have worked in diversity for two decades! I’ve not worked in cycling as long – and that has been a strength. My freshness means I am open to learning and bring other learnings to a group.

I’ve learned a lot from the other members of the Diversity & Inclusion External Advisory Group (can we call it D&I EAG?), just as I have learned a lot from my pro-cycling client over the last few months. The lack of current diversity in pro-cycling means female pro cyclists lack personal and professional protection – experiencing bullying, sexual harassment as well as lacking contracts and equality in pay, race opportunities and representation in broadcasting and print media. It means lack of racial diversity and lack of openly gay pro riders – which leads to lack of opportunities and mental wellbeing. And it means lack of race opportunities and support for disabled pro cyclists. I like it when my work is connected.

Developing the strategy with British Cycling has impacted my work with Greater Manchester charity sportive Tour de Manc – I am their diversity lead. When British Cycling launched their Transgender and Non- Binary Consultation we reviewed Tour de Manc’s practices. And of course I used my learnings from Tour de Manc to advise British Cycling. We’re being especially welcoming to women, to the LGBT+ community, to black and Asian riders and to riders with disabilities through our marketing and outreach so that the sportive better reflects our diverse community.

One of my big reflections this year has been of the importance of ‘the welcome’. This is for small clubs, community groups, sportives, the pro-circuit, the press. I’ve often been the only woman on a team, on a ride, at an event – and different things (words, greetings, attitudes) have made me feel welcome – or not. There are so many ways to make people feel more welcome: we tell them they are welcome; we visit their spaces to invite them to things – events, races, groups, to apply for jobs, to be a volunteer; and we listen and act when they are talking. We give them space to ask questions.

You will see British Cycling advertising jobs and volunteering opportunities in new spaces. You will see them inviting people from underrepresented groups to apply for positions. You will see British Cycling’s marketing (including the D&I strategy) showing diverse representations of cyclists. And you will see continued opportunities to respond.

I am looking forward to working with British Cycling on their marketing – to make sure they welcome opinions and then take these into account. They are committed to doing this – as an external advisor one of my roles is to hold them to account.

Please take a look at their strategy. Please contact them for queries on it. Please feel welcome to contact me about my own work and knowledge of diversity in action. I’m proud of being well-connected to a diverse range of people.

I’m very proud of my listening skills.

It’s what leads to action.

National day alert

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We recently celebrated Transgender Day of Visibility. Done badly, national days are but a Twitter flutter and an excuse to greenwash 364 days of (in)activity, but done well, they’re powerful, focus the mind and become hooks to hang activity on: March brings International Women’s Day; October recognises cancer awareness activity.

This year I celebrated Transgender Day of Visibility by sharing it on my social channels with a targeted call to action for my cycling contacts to engage with British Cycling’ consultation on its transgender and non-binary policy documents.

Cycling is a big circle I move in: my contacts include many ride and event leaders as well as marketing professionals and political players. All quite clued into demographics. And I am a member of British Cycling’s Diversity and Inclusion external advisory board.

I also shared it with the Tour de Manc team, a sportive I work with as the diversity lead and included it as an agenda point at our next meeting.  I asked the team to consider the ways transgender and non-binary awareness impacts our event including registrations, toilets and signage and challenged them to consider where else it impacts our event. I also asked that they share the British Cycling post, so it’s not just me as diversity lead that shows we are serious about inclusivity.

What’s most important is what we are doing in the long-term. I had vetted our rider communications when I joined the organisation, but this threw up a new lens, so we are doing it again. One of the team asked for us to respond to the British Cycling consultation as a team and I like this – more conversation – and our discussion will inform our own policy and practices.

I received training in inclusive engagement and terminology from the Proud Trust a decade ago and I revisited their guidance and that of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Best practice is to offer an open field option and this has led to a conversation with our ticketing platform.

Although we are not a race, we collect gender information – gender, not sex. But we’re not a race and we’re open to everyone. The the reason we record gender used to be because of habit and toilets. (We’ve gone unisex with toilets containing sanitary bins marked). Now, it is so that we can benchmark and improve our gender diversity. Should we do it?

But the Proud Trust challenges us as to why we measure one protected characteristic and not another. Interesting challenge. We’re used to answering questions about gender and may fear any other questions may sound nosy and ‘not relevant’. But for our purposes, characteristics including race, disability, sexual orientation are just as relevant and not capturing the data leaves a data gap. The sportive is not a publicly funded body so does not have to promote itself across all protected characteristics. It’s something we want to do. Thoughts please?

I recently read the Social Mobility Commission’s 72 page report The Long Shadow of Deprivation which is an interesting read but I battled with for its reliance solely on data from males. It rankled. Being excluded rankles.

So my conversation isn’t over – I wanted to share my work and my thoughts because I have interesting people in my circle who can help me with my thinking and the day I know it all is the day I sit alone and not on boards!

Please share your thoughts and your guidance.

Proud to sit on British Cycling’s Diversity & Inclusion Advsory Group

I’m Sarah Galligan, founder of These Four Words and I am delighted to have been appointed to British Cycling’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group. It’s a marriage of my commitment to diversity and inclusivity and passion for cycling.

I’ve worked in corporate social responsibility for two decades. And I have a read a lot. And continue to read a lot. So I’ve learned a lot. I’ve written a lot. I’ve spoken a lot. And I will continue to advise companies that want to make changes and ensure they are representing their communities and making the most of the talent available.

In my letter of application I promised to be ‘a confident spokesperson, a supportive and diplomatic critic and a hard-working advocate to help [British Cycling] bring in the new era.

And as a woman working and playing in male dominated spheres (law, Big Four, property and construction, cycling, underwater hockey, football as a youth) I have my lived experience of being the only of my sex in a room, in a meeting, on a ride, on a team. It’s harder than men think.

Clearly by myself I myself am not a diverse panel. And whilst I am proud to have mentored BAME women, managed staff with neurodivergent needs, spent time in a wheelchair, suffered from PTSD and depression and have good friends and close family within the LGBT+ community, my lived experience is limited. I don’t represent all groups.

Equally my knowledge of the cycling world is not exhaustive.

Which is why we have a panel. I am proud to sit alongside clever, caring and passionate people and it’s been interesting looking at their biogs and seeing how our experiences differ. Importantly we have a member of British Cycling on the panel in Julie Watts, we have an ex pro racer and campaigner for trans inclusion, Philippa York (my Trek contacts are especially excited about her), sports club and community engagement professionals Nazaket Ali, Habid Vaghefian, Andy Edwards and Lloyd Grose, LGBT+ campaigner Robbie de Santos, HR and inclusion professionals and researchers Rosie Ranganathan, Louise Johnson and Aneel Javed, cycling instructors Aneela McKenna, Deena Blacking. And then there’s me.

What a team.

I’m proud to bring my marketing experience to ensure great ideas are communicated greatly and inclusively through a sport I absolutely love so British Cycling can realise its ambitions. One of my professional skills is platforming people and I have a rather good black book of diverse and clever people. I’m also looking to add to this!

I host online cycle cafes and online Zwift rides and I have an old fashioned telephone so if you’d like to talk about diversity, cycling or corporate social responsibility I’m all ears.

Engaging webinars

We’re delivering our third webinar for Trek Bikes this week. Here’s why Trek are doing it. And here’s the value we’ve added. And that’s why they’re working with These Four Words.

The more you do of something, the better you get.

We’re delivering our third webinar for Trek Bikes this week.

Lockdown led to a big bike boom. We’re working with Trek to share the love of bikes. So far, we’ve inspired mountainbikers to get out on their bike, engaged in the very current topic of diversity in cycling. This week we’re helping cyclists to plan routes.

To a non-cyclist this may sound dull. But if you cycle, not knowing how to plan a route is the different between staying in or going out. It’s the difference between feeling safe. If you lead rides for groups, planning a route can take hours.

No wonder the free event booked-up so quickly.

So – good topic.

Each event takes a lot of planning – liaising with speakers, producing an outline, getting visuals, promoting the event and making sure each event is engaging.

So – good event.

What we’ve learned so far: drop-off rates are higher with online events than with in-person ones.

We keep people engaged with polls, with preparation of speakers and with visuals.

So – good delivery.

Not once will we encourage people to buy a Trek bike.

By curating and hosting an interesting event we’re showing how much Trek cares about cyclists.

By choosing knowledgable speakers, attendees can ask questions and can decide whether it’s worth investing in a planning app.

By having a gender diverse panel we’re showing that Trek values and cares about female voices.

By showcasing a speaker from Trek’s Bath store, we’re advertising they have a store there and can care knowledgably for cyclists in Bath.

And These Four Words measures how many people enjoy it, how long they stay connected, ensures it is promoted to inner-city cyclists, long-distance cyclists and more.

That’s how much we care.

The value of communication in a global world

Kellie Noon from Onno Consulting shares insights. “Communicating globally is something we can develop. It’s a beautiful gift and tool and one we need to value.”

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Thank you to Kellie Noon of Onno Consulting for sharing her insights here!

The value of communication

Communication is our connection to others. That has been seen more clearly than ever through 2020: we’ve developed new ways to stay in contact with our nearest and dearest, and formed new ways to socially engage and stay connected with others.

Communication is at the core of who we are, be that in written or spoken form. We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, social creatures.

Being able to communicate easily and clearly is often something we take for granted, something we do easily without even thinking with those in our close network.

What happens then when communication becomes more complicated, affected by external elements like other languages or cultural differences?

Are we universally united?

When we meet new people, we generally smile and wave to communicate a greeting, and this holds true for most of the world. But what else can we do that transcends global borders?

Body language is something we rely on heavily when we lack the necessary language skills.

Hand gestures can generally help us, but even then we need to take care not to offend.

  • Making a circle with your thumb and index to indicate agreement is fine in the UK, but highly offensive in Brazil.
  • Giving a thumbs up is a positive sign in the UK but in the Middle East and West Africa is highly offensive.
  • In Spain it’s common to indicate you want two of a drink or order to a barman using the V shape of your index and middle fingers, showing them the back of the hand. Holding your fingers up this way in the UK is an insult.

What about nodding your head in agreement? In Bulgaria and Albania nodding your head indicates disagreement, and to agree you should shake the head from side to side (tricky to do when it’s something that comes so naturally!).

Even when we know different languages and can use them well, we need to understand cultural implications to really understand them.

Quite often people in China will say ‘yes’ when in fact they mean ‘no’. Knowing how to differentiate the different nuances of ‘yes’, including how and when it’s said, if it’s accompanied by any other gestures or body language and who is communicating can make a huge difference and can help avoid potentially critical misunderstandings.

We need to know more than just words: we need to know how to use them and in which contexts if we are to effectively communicate globally. Developing this skill can have a huge impact on so many aspects of both our working and private lives, including aspects such as:

  • our ability to effectively build business relationships
  • engagement with the local culture
  • our ability to effectively negotiate
  • getting to know people for work or pleasure
  • our understanding of the people we’re communicating with
  • our understanding of the places we’re visiting or engaging with

So, what can we do?

  1. Take your time to learn about who you’re communicating with. Embrace different communication styles and keep your eyes and ears open to new ways of doing things.
  2. Pay attention to the language used and learn some basics before you talk to people from other areas of the world or with other mother tongues. Don’t get caught out and grab the opportunity to learn something new with both hands!

Communication is key to everything. We learn to communicate in many ways from a very young age, but we need to remember that we’ll never stop learning. Communicating globally is a new facet we can add to a skill we already have, something we can develop and hone over time. It’s a beautiful gift and tool and one we need to really value. 

If you want to know more about global differences or want help navigating the cultural implications of your work with international clients, book in a discovery call with Kellie at Onno to see how she can help you:

Social value: an SME edge

I had an interesting conversation this week about procurement portals. Yes, you heard that right.

James, an engineer, wasn’t registered on a particular portal as he’d been advised some time ago that SMEs weren’t welcome. They are now. Local Authorities have worked hard to split opportunities into smaller chunks to enable SMEs and local firms to win LA contracts.

I talked to James about his own procurement – which in turn supports local businesses. He also invests in his apprentices and supports local charitable causes and we’re talking more about what he can do to increase and measure his social value impact.

And this is why Local Authorities recognise the social value of SMEs and shopping locally.

James is now a member of Star Procurement’s portal, The Chest where you can find contracts for Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford Councils, as well as NHS Tameside & Glossop, and NHS Trafford CCGs.

Over just a two year period, these councils increased local spend by 30%.

I know larger private sector firms are having these conversations about their own procurement channels, and for some time – I was having them in BiTC forums many years’ ago, but sustainability is a key differentiator for SMEs and it’s important to recognise and talk about the value they bring.

I love helping companies to realise and tell these stories.

The value of social value

This week I presented to a networking group about These Four Words.

I started the same as I always do. Hi, I’m Sarah Galligan from marketing agemcy These Four Words… because every story starts with once upon a time. I help companies tell the story of the value and the social value they bring.

And then I talked about what I meant by value – and then social value. The group have known me for so long that I assumed they may be sick of me talking about social value but they were really enthused. And they were surprised about the business opportunities of good business.

The UK ethical consumer market is worth over £800 billion and that’s where I have spent most of my career in corporate social value (CSR). Other sectors have come later to the CSR or social value party and without consumer interest to drive them, it’s been driven by legislation.

The Social Value Act of 2012 has changed the property and construction industry. Social value accounts for up to 20% of the weighting of procurement decisions by Local Authorities. One of my peers this week asked me if there was a guide for them and I think this is a useful one. And whilst weightings vary and measurements can be subjective, TOMS gives us a common reference and weighting percentages mean that we have an easy way to guage the importance of social value to a Local Authority.

I was proud that my input into a client’s social value commitment was the difference in it winning a Local Authority contract recently. It’s a client that is committed to social value and it’s heart-warming that this has been recognised.

I have to say that my presentation went well this week. And two attendees asked for a meeting. I do value new businesses – I get excited about good business being good for business.

So I’ll keep posting on the value of social value in Manchester and beyond!