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Essex fall 'significantly short' of ECB's board diversity targets

Club threatened with further sanctions after failure to outline plans for change

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
31-May-2022 • Updated on 01-Jun-2022
A view of a floodlight and the weather vane in Chelmsford, England women vs India women, 3rd T20I, Chelmsford, July 14, 2021

Essex were fined £50,000 by a CDC panel earlier this motnh  •  Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Essex have fallen "significantly short" of diversity targets for their board introduced by the ECB and have been told that they could face sanctions.
The ECB's action plan to tackle racism and all forms of discrimination, published in November after what outgoing chief executive Tom Harrison described as an "earthquake" of revelations around institutional racism, included a target for county boards to feature 30% female representation and "locally representative ethnicity" by the end of April 2022, which has been achieved at an aggregate level.
Two-thirds of the first-class counties have met targets or are in the final stages of recruitment and have committed to doing so, while five - Hampshire, Lancashire, Middlesex, Surrey and Warwickshire - have been granted "comply or explain" extensions.
But the ECB said in a statement on Tuesday that Essex had been placed "in a non-compliance process as they have fallen significantly short of their targets and do not yet have a clear action plan to deliver change within an appropriate timescale".
The statement added: "As part of this process, Essex CCC must provide an updated action plan for approval by the ECB and sanctions may be considered if sufficient progress is not made within agreed deadlines."
Essex were fined £50,000 last month by a Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) panel and warned over future conduct after accepting two charges relating to a historic racist comment by John Faragher, their ex-chair.
"The club continue to make great strides in creating a board which represents the diverse communities we serve as Essex Cricket," John Stephenson, Essex's chief executive, said in a statement on Wednesday. "We have had to overcome many obstacles to date, but I am pleased with the progress we are making and the plans in place to implement a positive change.
"The ECB issued the club with a formal letter regarding non-compliance and this forms part of the process in driving change. We are taking the whole process very seriously and it was disappointing that the club were singled out from the nine other county organisations who also don't currently comply.
"I am in constant dialogue with the ECB regarding our progress and they completely support everything we are doing to address the issues they raised. We are undergoing an action plan to address board diversity, which forms part of an ongoing process to apply changes."
Stephenson added that the club will soon release the full independent investigation into historical allegations of discrimination at Essex, with five new board members and three new directors due to be appointed at an upcoming AGM.
"I can assure our members, supporters, commercial partners and other stakeholders that plans to drive compliance will be implemented in time to meet the ECB deadlines and we are confident that no further sanctions will be taken against the club," he said.
Elsewhere in the latest update on the action plan, the ECB said it had made £2.5 million of funding available to support facility development to "improve provisions for families and under-served communities" at professional venues.
The ECB has also started recruiting for a new 'head of discipline' to manage discrimination allegations, assist counties and oversee investigations processes.
June 1 - This story was updated to include John Stephenson's comments

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98