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Can Sports Teams Be Role Models for Inclusivity?

By Susan Hunt Stevens, WeSpire

2018.07.26-Role Models for Inclusivity-IMAGE

Photo credit: The George Voice https://thegavoice.com/sports/atlanta-hawks-welcome-lgbt-ally-fans/

Last week, I had the honor of speaking on the mainstage at the 8th annual Green Sports Alliance Summit. It was my second time speaking, but six years ago the topic was what you would expect from WeSpire at a sustainability conference:  how to inspire people to save energy, waste, water and fuel. This year, the topic was “Inclusive Culture: How to Create Safe and Empowered Workplaces and Fan Zones.” As I sat on the stage with the first ever head of diversity for an NBA team, Nzinga Shaw from the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, I reflected on how much convergence has taken place in the sustainability and diversity and inclusion fields, which has directly influenced how WeSpire has evolved to meet these needs.

Green Sports Alliance Board member Jen Regan, who facilitated the panel, said they added diversity and inclusion as a focus to the Summit because “our ability to improve the environment is intrinsically linked with our ability to include all members of our community. The Green Sports Alliance wants to set the leaders of the sports industry up to win for now and the future which means focusing on both social and environmental impact.” We’ve seen similar expansions at other major sustainability conferences like Greenbiz and Sustainable Brands. What links these two seemingly disparate topics are actually similar underpinnings: urgent need for changes in practices and behaviors, a rapidly changing culture, the need for alignment amongst business practices (ie are you really a sustainable company if you are net zero but turn a blind eye to racial discrimination) and the ability for the “right thing to do” to also be the “smart thing to do” in terms of ROI.

I found the journey of the Atlanta Hawks to be incredibly compelling. What inspired hiring a Chief Diversity Officer initially was a crisis – driven by racially tinged, disparaging remarks made by a now former owner and coach. What has emerged is a playbook for how a professional sports team can be a role model for a community of what inclusivity looks like. And how valuable that is to the team, employees and fans. As the CEO of the Atlanta Hawks said, “We don’t see ourselves as a sports team. We see ourselves as a cultural touchstone for Atlanta. We see ourselves as a unifying force that brings together black, white, Muslim, [and] Jewish [people]. Everyone can agree on wanting a great sports team in Atlanta. So the ownership changed, the culture has changed, and we’re just in the infancy of it.”

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Eight Steps to Engage your Fans in Sustainability Programmes

Green Sports Alliance publishes Fan Engagement Playbook to give sports organisations practical tips for getting spectators involved in various sustainability initiatives.
The Playbook emphasised the importance of encouraging fans to practice sustainable behaviour (Credit: Jamie Smed)

The Playbook emphasised the importance of encouraging fans to practice sustainable behaviour (Credit: Jamie Smed)

An eight-step guide to help sports organisations build fan engagement into environmental sustainability programmes has been unveiled by the Green Sports Alliance.

Published in association with the University of Colorado Boulder, the Fan Engagement Playbook has been billed as a “practical tool” for professionals trying to engineer behaviour-changing fan engagement programmes around environmental sustainability.

“Collegiate and professional sports organisations must develop initiatives that meaningfully engage and encourage fans to practice sustainable behaviour at home, work, and play to advance into this next phase of sports sustainability,” states the guide, breaking down the advice into the following eight sections:

1. Assess the baseline capacity of your organisation: Making sure your organisation is credible (e.g. is currently demonstrating the behaviour it is trying to instill in other, such as recycling), and making sustainability a core value of the company.

2. Identify a desired behaviour change: Choose a behaviour that your organisation actively practices (e.g. composting – at home, in the stadium, composting food scraps, using compostable single-use plastics).

Read full article here.

World Cup Fans Encouraged to Offset Emissions with Ticket Giveaway

Travelling fans are expected to be responsible for 75% of the carbon emissions generated during the World Cup (Credit: Getty Images via FIFA)

Travelling fans are expected to be responsible for 75% of the carbon emissions generated during the World Cup (Credit: Getty Images via FIFA)

Ticket holders for this year’s FIFA World Cup have the chance of winning tickets for the final if they take part in a campaign to offset their carbon footprint.

As part of its Climate Action Campaign, the world football governing body will offset 2.9 tonnes of carbon emissions for every person that signs up by investing in projects that remove or prevent emissions.

Fans travelling to Russia for the tournament are expected to account for 74.7% of the 2.1 millions tonnes of carbon dioxide that the event is likely to generate.

Where emissions cannot be eliminated, FIFA and the local organising committee will fund other verified low-carbon projects in Russia and overseas.

World Cup ticket holders can sign up for the initiative at FIFA.com, and will instantly enter a prize draw for the tickets.

During the World Cup, fans will also be encouraged to use public transport, with their match tickets doubling up as transport tickets.

Read the full article here.

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