Measuring and improving diversity in the fitness sector

3 min read
Friday, 5 July 2024

One of the key theories behind EuropeActive’s Diversity in the Fitness Sector report is: Measure to understand. Yet, it highlights key points in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) that are more than just about metrics.

With many companies in the fitness sector striving for a mindset of “better never stops,” it’s vital that this report is read and digested to not only highlight areas of improvement, but to celebrate where we can repeat successes.

The 4 key elements to growth and empathy

“As part of the Inclusion Council, I have participated in many discussions and debates about sensitive topics,” explains Jennifer Halsall.

“In my experience, the foundation for productive conversations around any emotionally charged topic starts with the following:

  1. Safety: It’s OK to admit what you don’t know, say the wrong thing, and make mistakes.
  2. Clarity: Get clear on what you are talking about. Don’t speak in generalities; say what you mean specifically.
  3. Definitions: What does the topic or term mean to you? Are there new words that you don’t understand? Make sure that all parties have shared meaning to avoid misunderstanding.
  4. Ownership: Be responsible for your unconscious biases.”

How to learn more about DEI

In addition to stats, celebrations, and causes for concern, the full report also references a wealth of DEI resources to help educate employees and business owners.

This is important because it’s not necessarily about persuasion, but about understanding and empathy. You can only do that by familiarising yourself with other cultures and ideals beyond your own experience.

Chart showing the difference in discrimination at work in the fitness industry

The survey shows the direct impact of both individual and business impact of discrimination, affecting not only the culture of a company, but the mental health of its employees and, ultimately, the business’ bottom line.

References include:

  • Organisations prioritising diversity will financially outperform those that don’t – Gartner.
  • Mixed-gender teams outperform single-gender ones by 50% – McKinsey.
  • Companies with strong diversity initiatives derive 45% of their revenue from innovation – McKinsey.

Discrimination by the numbers

Gender-based discrimination, whether conscious or otherwise, has been reported by almost half of the study respondents.

47% stated that they’ve faced general harassment or bullying based on gender; 43% have experienced sexual harassment, with many highlighting it as a critical issue in the fitness, health, and wellbeing industry, while 37% reported discrimination in career progression and 33% in remuneration.

Education is the pathway to progress

Not just in specific training, but also in awareness and willingness to empathise, there is a lot of room for improvement. With that, comes opportunities for everyone to become more inclusive and open to suggestions about new ways of working that welcome more people.

The Diversity in Fitness report highlighted that 70% of respondents had not been offered any form of DEI training but, somewhat more concerning is that 31% would not take it if offered.

Aside from specific training, representation alone is key to a more diverse workforce that has a more varied experience in approach and results.

United in the need for diverse role models

86% of report respondents agreed on the importance of having visible role models from diverse backgrounds, and 40% felt there were not enough relatable role models in the industry.

Here, we find much more alignment in the needs for better inclusion, irrespective of bigger-picture DEI-specific needs and opinions.

Paving the way for progress, this willingness to explore more diversity within the workforce will lay a strong foundation of positive change for every highlighted need behind this report.

While sometimes the subject of DEI can scare people or immediately put them on the defensive, ensuring that boards and decisionmakers aren’t solely cast from the same backgrounds will

We talk a lot in the fitness industry about statistics around 80% – let’s get this 86% of agreement put into action so that we can represent more people to get them more active, more often, as soon as possible.

To see the full report and find out more about DEI in fitness visit the EuropeActive Inclusion Board, or read the full Diversity in the Fitness Sector report.

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