Since becoming Chief Executive of British Cycling in January one of things I have found most encouraging is a shared commitment throughout the organisation that our sport – as great as it is – must be more inclusive and must become as diverse as Britain itself. That shared commitment from the Chair, from the Board and from the executive leadership team meant we all took great pride in the publication in July of #OurRide, our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.
A strong piece of work with its roots going back many years, it laid out what we will do to achieve our ambitions to make cycling welcoming to all and highlighted our determination to stamp out inappropriate behaviour and discrimination wherever it arises.
So it has been deeply worrying to read in recent weeks reports about the homophobia and transphobia to which some of our fellow cyclists have been subjected. We have reached out to the individuals concerned – or where the reports are from unnamed people, asked for more information in order to take further action.
Our code of conduct provides protection against discriminatory behaviour and allows us to sanction any member of British Cycling, including expulsion from our sport. While the code of conduct is clear on the types of behaviour we find unacceptable, we know that there is a difference between understanding the code and the reporting of incidents – and despite the fact that a number of people have bravely come forward to share their experiences, we aren’t yet seeing that translate into formal complaints which will enable our compliance team to investigate and take the appropriate action.
We must do more to understand why that is not happening but I wanted to take an opportunity to say this: homophobia and transphobia are not acceptable in our sport; if you or someone else in cycling is subjected to homophobia or transphobia, please report it to our compliance team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Complaints are dealt with in confidence and by a trained case worker. Tackling this problem is something we must all share. It is not just a matter for those who are subjected to bigotry, everyone who cares about our sport must shoulder this responsibility and it is vital that all of us who care about cycling act whenever we hear it, whenever we see it.