Inside the Box with Alan Bennett - Diversity is not just a dance group

Visit: The PFA took time out to talk to us about diversity in the workplace

Visit: The PFA took time out to talk to us about diversity in the workplace

First published in Sport Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by

The sun is out, and the season is moving into the Easter weekend.

There are two things start to happen around the training grounds of football clubs around this time of year. 

One is the constant talk of results, which teams will do what, predictions about where teams will end up and the remaining fixtures.

The second is that the emphasis in the gym turns to the muscles that look good in the mirror or in a T-shirts.

It moves from functional and power exercises, to more hypertrophy and abdominal exercises.

Basically, if you’re strolling along a beach it’s not about how many deadlifts or bridge exercises you have done, it’s more about how many biceps curls or crunches you have done.

Footballers are vain.

After the gym session we were out about to start training when an announcement is made.

"Lads, there is a talk from the PFA after training about diversity."

"The dance group Diversity?" someone says. "This should be interesting."

Surrey Comet:

Not this time: Diversity is about more than a dance act

After training we gather in the canteen and have a meeting with a speaker from the PFA - not an everyday occurrence.

It’s about diversity in the workplace and what can and can’t be said between work colleagues.

We begin the talk by splitting up into groups - never mind race, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation or gender, the lads break up into car schools!

To the PFA speaker it looks like these lads are very diverse.

The first topic is protected characteristics and we have to list them. Each group puts down a few suggestions, and after we discuss them among the entire group.

Next, we look at a few clips of racism on the football pitch and at the training ground.

Seeing these incidents open your eyes to the world outside our club and how it affects other people.

It’s worthwhile for everyone in the group.

Next we make a list of insulting words or racial slang that can, and rightly so, end with a player being suspended or having their contract terminated if it’s reported.

I must admit to learning a few new words but it again highlights the issue, which is good.

We talk through examples that happen in the workplace, and this is the best exercise because it’s very relevant to day to day in our workplace.

The point is emphasised that the training ground is a workplace and the type of language used sometimes has to change.

The football workplace is completely different from other workplaces.

This should not be used as an excuse to speak or act in a discriminatory way towards another co-worker.

Football needs this, although it’s a game we’re playing, we need to be adults about the way we conduct ourselves and hopefully this will seep into the wider world of football.

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