The Value of Experience – Celebrating Black History Month 2021

The Value of Experience – Celebrating Black History Month 2021

As Black History MOnth continues in the UK, Snowsports D&I Advisory Group member, Melanie Antao, reflects on two-and-a-half decades of work in the sport industry as a woman of colour

In the twenty-five years I’ve spent working in the sport industry, in facilities, funding, investment, community and elite sport, I’ve seen first-hand how progress on racial inclusion has, at times, been an up-and-down process. As a woman of colour working and competing in sport, I’ve seen both good and bad practice; things I’d point to as good advice on building inclusion, and others I’d hope not to see repeated in a more self-aware and reflective industry.

As this year’s Black History Month got underway, it gave me cause to reflect on where we stand as a national sport sector and, particularly, where snowsport stands today.

Advising Snowsports on D&I

Since I was invited to join the Snowsport Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group as an Independent Member earlier this year, I’ve seen first-hand the efforts that the sport’s Governing Bodies across Britain are making to embed more inclusive policies and practices throughout their work. It’s admirable and important work, and it’s something I’m proud to be a part of, but it’s also something I feel a responsibility to try and contribute to in whatever way I can.

Particularly as I think about racial and ethnic inclusion, and from my own experience, creating space for black voices to inform decision-making in sport, I think about how much valuable knowledge exchange there is available to sports that are willing to listen.

My role on the D&I Advisory Group hasn’t just allowed me to voice my own reflections – as a sport professional, a competitor, and a woman of colour – but it’s also allowed me to introduce learning from the various sporting environments I’ve been involved in. Whether that’s rugby dressing rooms, coaching seminars, stakeholder meetings, funding workshops, executive offices, or overseas tours, each of them has given me new perspectives and insights to share that transcend the boundaries of individual sports.

And as I see it, that’s where sports – at every level – can benefit quickly and meaningfully. There’s a wealth of people with diverse backgrounds in sport who are openly willing to share their expertise and their experiences. And there’s huge value in looking and listening to the progress other sports have made, or are making, around a whole host of diversity themes.

Proud To Be…

This year’s Black History Month centres around a campaign of Proud To Be. I am Proud To Be a woman of colour working in sport, and I’m also proud to be in a position to share my experience and guidance with a sport that has openly acknowledged it wants to do better in all forms of diversity in the future.

I’m delighted to be supporting the funded British snowsport scene in considering, reflecting on and acting to grow diversity and inclusion. And during Black History Month, I feel confident to say I’m proud to be a part of that work.

Melanie Antao has been a sports professional for the past 25 years, working for organisations including Sport England, Premiership Rugby, the Football Foundation and London Sport. Still closely involved in rugby, you can follow Melanie at @MelanieAntao on Twitter.
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