[MUSIC] Welcome. In this next video, Piara Powar discusses with Preeti Shetty diversity and inclusion in football leadership, and what it looks like in practice. Piara Powar is the executive director of the Fare Network. The Fare Network is an umbrella organization that combats all forms of discrimination, including racial and gender discrimination. Preeti Shetty is the CEO of upshot, a nonprofit social enterprise funded by the Football Foundation, that uses impact measurements to demonstrate the critical role of sports in achieving social change. Since 2021, Pretty has been a non executive director at Branford Football Club, becoming the only south Asian woman in an English premier league boardroom [SOUND] >> So Preeti great to have you. Thank you for getting involved in this. If you could tell us a little bit about your background and then your work history as well, that'd be really useful for people to know, I think. >> Yeah, so I'm of Indian origin. I was born in Dubai, grew up in Dubai and I moved to London when I was 18, which was a long time ago. And my kind of career trajectory if you like, happened very much by accident, which I think lots of people will attest to as well. I came to London did a degree in media and comms because I didn't really know what I wanted to do. And happened to get an internship at BBC sport, and I took it because it was the BBC, not because it was sport, but completely fell in love with what we now call sport for development of football, for development specifically. It was an outreach project that was helping young people not in education employment and training, to find pathways using football. And I think I just had this moment of football can change people's lives, and I never want to do anything else again. And I was very lucky, and I never did anything else ever again. It obviously wasn't that simple, I did lots of free internships in between, but it really gave me a bit of a clear pathway for myself into really understanding what this world looked like, and what my place within it could be. And so, I worked for a few different football for development organizations. I went freelance and worked as a consultant for football for development Ngos around the world. And then spent the last eight years at the Football Foundation working specifically on upshot which is an online monitoring evaluation and learning system for sport organizations to measure their impact. And so I really started to delve into, I've seen firsthand football can do good, but how can we prove it? What does that mean? How can we articulate that? We should be spending more money in this space because it's changing people's lives. And as of last year, I moved upshot out of the Foundation and set ourselves up as a social enterprise, which we now run and we work with just over 1000 organizations, helping them collect good data, and measure their impact. >> For those that might not know what is football for development of sport for development. >> Yeah, the terminology is funny because the words have changed a lot and really the logic behind it, or the the reasoning behind football for development it's not football for football sake. Or just to play, or just even for the physical benefits we know playing football can give you. But it's really looking at the wider societal benefits that football can bring. Whether you're playing it, or whether you're using it as a tool to tackle social issues. So knife crime, or to teach young people about sanitation, or looking at mental well being. So really trying to see how football can be used as a tool to tackle developmental issues. >> Okay great. So if we talk about diversity and we're specifically talking about gender and ethnic diversity in the workplace. It's interesting that you've worked around the world, you grew up and lived in Dubai, but I've spent a lot of time in the UK now as well. Well, how would you compare Dubai and the UK in terms of the approach to gender diversity in particular? >> I guess it's a very interesting question. And I'm a caveat in with saying I left when I was 18 I still go back. And still have family there still go back all the time. And so maybe I would have had a different experience. But in Dubai now it's changing and we're seeing a bit more focused on trying to get more women in the workplace and things like that. But it's definitely behind. So I think women as a category are now being looked at. But the intersection of women, and ethnic women for example, I don't even think that's on a radar. For me, when I was growing up and I have friends that still attest to this, we used to make this joke and it's based wholly on truth, the color of your passport would define what salary you got. And if you had a British passport regardless of the color of your skin or where you were born, would dictate what would band of salary you fall into when you apply for a job. I think it's things like that that at least made me feel like I didn't want to be there. And I didn't want to be part of an environment that wasn't taking my skills into account necessarily. But before you even got to the bit of my CV, which is what have you done, it was where are you from? What gender does your father sponsor you because as a woman, you have either had to be sponsored by your father or sponsored by your company. And the qualifying questions alone are barriers enough, before you even get to and do you have the experience to do this job? Whereas it's obviously different in the UK. We have other challenges here. It's not those. But I think for me that's a big difference. It is changing. But where I was at that period of time, and in the last sort of 10, 15 years, that's not something that I wanted to be a part of. And I wanted to be, I wanted to make my own way based on merit. >> Okay, good, interesting. And so you've been working in or around football for quite a long time now. And have you seen attitudes within the sport change, the within the administrative sections sectors that you've been moving in, have you? And what are those changes been? >> There's definitely been change. There's been a lot of change, there's still a long way to go. But there's been change. And I think partly forced change, if you know what I mean. I don't necessarily think if nobody had done anything and things weren't. I think especially in the last few years where they are politically, where they are socially, I think some of that change has had to happen. We have heard the stories of things that have been said and racism, accusations and sexual abuse and harassment. All of those things have served the purpose of moving this along a little bit quicker. Not quickly enough in my eyes, but we've seen change. Good examples of them are, and it's a small thing, but I've had employers and organizations I work with, that are actively looking to write their job descriptions in a way that will attract more women, more people of color. Make the point of saying, we want people from diverse backgrounds, people that lived experience to come and be part of our sport, part of our company. I think those go some way, now you can say what you want to say. But whether somebody still feels welcomed a good example, we talk about this a lot is that's wonderful to see that writing. We want more diverse people and then you show up and it's an all white male panel. That doesn't tell me that you want more diverse people, it makes me feel uncomfortable in token. But, it's one step, right? I think we're starting to see, and I definitely organizations trying to be, this football organizations trying to be more proactive. So I'm seeing change. I think it's interesting where we're seeing change. Like we're seeing and in my experience anyway, a lot of entry level positions, they are quite diverse, and we are seeing lots of young people from different backgrounds. I know we do quite a lot of work for example, within upshot when we hire to say, we don't require you to have a degree. Because that's the kind of work we do, I can teach you that, I don't need you to have done three years at university in a history degree, which has nothing to do with my job anyway. And, go out and speak to universities or speak to colleges, go to schools and say, here are jobs that you wouldn't think about in football, but we want you. And I think we're seeing that at an entry level. I think we're seeing a lot of change at board level or they're trying to do change at board level because there's eyeballs on it. So there's media interest in how many women are on the board, how many people of color are on the board? So we're seeing it there. Where I think we need to see it is in the exc. Because that's the bit that I still think is people that have been there for 10, 20 years, people move from one job to the other at the same level. It's hard to break in when you're middle management to then move up to senior management. That is where I'm not seeing it as much. >> And so, what are the sort of things you think can be done to take people from middle to senior management? So in terms of the continuum from the bottom through, how can we encourage that, particularly if people are from a minority background in terms of their ethnicity and for young women? >> I think it's a few things, right? And it's focusing on someone's entire journey. Now, I can see why employers or the industry might want to take the easy way out. Let's do a placement here, a scholarship there, one off thing there, because it's easy. But if you really want to commit to it, I think it's looking at someone's entire journey. It's providing the opportunities, it's providing the training, how would I know how to do that if somebody hasn't taught me or showed me or given me the opportunity to learn? I think its role models, why would I even aspire to that job if I've never seen anybody that looks like me. I think there's a few different things that we're looking at and encouraging our people, and we have this mentality, I don't think this is just football, I think this is generally you have really good people and you don't want them to leave that position, much less your organization. Whereas I think we need to be in the mindset of, these are really good people, they should progress. If I don't have a place for them, they should go somewhere else because they will be good for all of us. And I think that mentality of letting people move on, giving them everything they need and nurturing them, helping them get mentors, enrollment, even if you don't have them within your organization, there are mentorship programs they can do. It's showing them the pathways, it's giving them the time. Like I have lots of young people say to me, yeah, I really want to do all these other programs, but I'm working all day and then I've got stuff, I've got responsibilities in the evening, when am I going to do this training program that costs two grand? For me, employers need to stump up the money for this thing. I remember I went on a women's leadership, I asked to go on a women's leadership program years ago and I got told why I needed to go to a women's specific one because it was very expensive. And couldn't I just do it a normal leadership one which was much cheaper. And I really had to build a case to say why this one was important, and I pay for it myself if that's what it took. But not everybody has the privilege of paying for it themselves. >> Yeah, okay, good points. And now as a member of a board, of a Premier League football club, which is a, that's a huge entity regardless of how big or small the club is, it's part of one of the the biggest brands in football internationally recognized. So you have quite a responsibility and you will be I would I would estimate one of probably probably the only woman of your background at the top echelons of football in the U. K. But also across europe right? This isn't just something that that applies to to England. What's that like and how has it how has it been in your first sort of year of doing that? It's it still feels weird. It's I think it's a weird when as you just did which makes sense. I keep being told that I am the the only and that is weird because each time I feel a mix of pride and pressure I guess because you know nobody wants to be the only and being the first is often really, you know, it's always really hard. So, you know, it, I have mixed feelings, it fills me with mixed feelings. However, saying that it's been an incredible experience. Like I didn't, I've worked in football a long time, but I've worked in grassroots football, I've never worked at this end of, you know, the elite end of football I guess with, with lots of money and lots of risk and lots of pressure and lots of eyeballs on you. Like, my, my end has been small charity and so for me it's been a huge learning curve Brentford is the perfect club for me to have done this with because they recognize that they know it's my first time, they reckon it's not my first time on a board, but it's my first time at this level and they, you know, they make a big effort. Exactly as we talked about, The first thing they said was, what areas are you do? You think you're weak in? Not because that's a bad thing because we'll give you training and you know, for me it was like risk and governance. Like I wasn't very strong in those areas and they said we'll give you some training and actually the whole board will go on training with you because we could all do with a refresher and for me it's that kind of thing, it didn't make me feel like, you're a bit rubbish, go and do that training. It was like, we're all going to do this together and you know, media training. Is that something we should all do? What are those, those areas that you're missing? And I think that kind of stuff is really powerful. The the other side of it as well, I think is, you know, the recognition of how much you can change things and it's been really visible at printed there. You know, this, they're not just saying, come to a board meeting and that's it. They're saying get involved, tell us your ideas, tell us what you're hearing and seeing, you know, we want we want to hear that. That's why you're here. It's for diversity of thought because we don't know what, you know, people asian people think, we don't know what women think necessarily. We might have one or two, but actually we want to hear from everybody. And I think that's been really nice to be able to effectively go out and talk to my friends and then come back and say, here are some things that I'm hearing, you know, from people I know what can we do about it. And it's not like every idea gets implemented of course and things take time and money, but there's a very open culture of, we know we can't get everything right, but let's let's hear everybody and let's see what we can do. I think an interesting observation I have learned, which is an age thing more than a gender and ethnicity thing is being on board. I'm on a few is time consuming and there's a lot of expectation that you go to things and you go to meetings and you come to board meetings and they're often during the day, which if you don't work for yourself, I don't or you're, you have caring responsibilities or you have Children. I don't know how you would figure that out. And that's been a massive realization of no wonder there aren't more women or younger people on board. If I have to say to my boss, by the way, I'm out for four hours at my Non exact thing. I think I'd get sacked. I am the boss, so I'm able to make my time up somewhere else, but I think that it's such a big learning that if you want more diverse people then you need to cater to what their life situation is doing in the evening, do it remotely. I think all of those things are really important. >> Yeah okay, so that's good. I mean, we've got a good news story about the way that Brentford have received you and how did you get into the role? Because I think that's important, right. Because it doesn't happen very often that clubs find people who are not connected to the club. >> Yeah, I mean this it's my favorite story to tell because it is the one that genuinely gives me hope for the future. I applied because I could, because they put it on the internet and said, here's an advert basically like any other job we want a new director, it's on the internet, anybody can apply and that feels, it sounds like it should be normal. It isn't as you said, football clubs don't do that. Most boards are made up of the owner's people, understandably, because it's trust, right. And somebody running your business, so it's the owner's lawyer and accountant and their best friend probably, and it's a very close circle also where clubs are owned by individuals. They don't need to have big boards with non execs. There's no legal requirement for that to happen. You could just have two people on the board, the owner and his mate and that is allowed legally. So the fact that Brentford not only has quite a big board and my favorite thing about it is I'm not the first woman and I'm not the first person of color. There was already a person of color and a woman. So this was really them looking at it and going, we still want more diversity of many different kinds and we don't just want to go out to our friends and family, we want to get whoever wants to apply. And so I had nothing to do with Brentford. I knew about them as much as the next person I applied and I got shortlisted and then I went through a massive interview process. I think by the end of it took months and they were still a championship club at the time I met with 17 different people. So it's intense and also that told me a lot about them because I met with other directors, but I met with staff and I met with outside they've got outside people to help. And so I really got a feel for the club, but that's such a good example of if you open it up and you give opportunities. You never know who you'll find and turns out, they found two of us because they ended up hiring me and edgy and just and neither of us have anything to do with the club. So it just goes to show what happens when you open up the net a little. >> The co director is referred to DG is a he's a black man from London who works in finance. So they advertised for one person and they found two, one an Asian woman, one a black man. I guess one of the things that occurs to me here is when we talk about the need for change in organizations, that the bit that gets lost out often is the cultural change. And it seemed that Brentford have already, to a large degree done a lot of that the culture there seems to be right. The internal culture, the corporate culture. What are your kind of general reflection then on what they need to do, what do they need to do in the future? What are they need to get right to think, what are the things that you think they could do better without giving away any secrets, right? From your period there. >> Yeah, I mean EDI that diversity inclusion, it's one of these areas where there's no such thing for me anyway, as enough, you can never do enough of it. It's not like, okay, great, we're going to get more Asian people to come to our games great. Done Asian inclusion, finished that's not how this works, right. And I think you're right Branford has done a lot to think about culture first, and they've always been quite a good community club, but the benefits fan base is it's changing, it's not necessarily very diverse. And so it's there's a lot for them to do. But also, I think taking into account the area, that's a new stadium, Hounslow and Ealing is changing and has been changing for many years. We're seeing different kinds of people, younger, young professionals. It's always going to be something that you have to look at holistically and say, what else is happening topically in our area. What is going on right now that we could add value to? I don't think as a club, we never sit down and go, it's our problem to solve, but it's saying there are other things going on. And if we can add value as a club, if we can be involved and support our community, then we should be doing that right. And that it starts at home 100% it starts from the board and the exact and all the way down through the organization, genuinely feeling like they're included and wanting to, it's not a metric that somebody gives you. That you wait to take off, its wanting to make sure that you're listening and hearing and when you're seeing. And so this is a good example of something that you can do as much as you want to do, but things are still going to happen. >> And again, one point, one thing through which you can bring about diversity regardless of where you are. You might be in in Russia or Italy or Belgium or in England. One thing that that you should do to bring about diversity, or you can do to bring about diversity. >> Representation, if you can't see it, you can't be it. And no matter what you tell people, you always think it's out of your reach. If nobody has done it before, you can't see people that look like you that have done it before. So and it's chicken and egg, but it's it's more roll, more visible role models in lots of different spaces.