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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at British Canoeing

For British Canoeing, equality is about fairness, impartiality of access, recognising inequalities and taking steps to address them. 

For British Canoeing, equality, diversity and inclusion are integral to our organisational values:

  • Every person matters
  • Striving for excellence
  • Always with integrity
  • Enjoying the journey
  • Individually committed  
  • Stronger together

British Canoeing believe that everyone should be able to access and enjoy paddlesports, regardless of their identity, background or circumstances, whether they wish to paddle recreationally, represent their Country on the world stage, or give back to the community through coaching or volunteering. Equality involves changing the culture and structure of sport to ensure it becomes equally accessible to all members of society as well as ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to realise their talent and full potential. 

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British Canoeing Equality Policy 2018

Useful Downloads

The Equality Policy will be reviewed and revised in 2021, and will be renewed biennially thereafter. We also regularly review and update our guidance to clubs, coaches and volunteers on equality. Club documents can be found on our ‘Information for Clubs’ pages. You can find out more about the work we are doing in order to make paddlesports more equal, diverse and inclusive below.

If you would like to request any of the documents in this section in an alternative format please contact us by emailing [email protected] or calling 0300 0119 500.

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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead

In June 2020, we asked the paddlesport community to share their experiences to help shape our future plans and ensure that we, as a sport, can be more inclusive and representative of society. As a result, in 2021, British Canoeing appointed an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead following insight from our membership that as an organisation we could be doing more to tackle the inequalities in our sport. 

Our Lead, Helena Russo, will be leading on the review and implementation of British Canoeing’s equality action plan, including the development and delivery of programmes to promote equality, diversity and inclusion across the paddlesport community. 

To contact Helena in regards to any equality, diversity or inclusion queries, please visit our Staff page for contact details.

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The Equality Standard for Sport

The Equality Standard is a framework which provides guidance to sports and community organisations about how they can widen access and reduce inequalities within their sport. This includes encouraging participation from under-represented individuals, groups and communities.

Find out more about the Equality Standard for Sport

There are four levels of achievement – Foundation, Preliminary, Intermediate and Advanced. British Canoeing achieved the Foundation Level of the Equality Standard for Sport in 2006, the Preliminary Standard in 2008 and the Intermediate Level in 2012. We will be working towards the Advanced level of the Equality Standard once Sport England and Sports Structures has finished its review of the Standard, and our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead will be managing our submission.

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Charter Mark

British Canoeing Policies and Partnerships

As we continue to expand our equality, diversity and inclusion work, we will update and release policies which are relevant for the paddling community. You will also find information here about any initiatives or schemes we have joined or any partnerships that we have formed that are helping us drive the inclusion agenda, and which you may be able to get involved with.

Our Transgender and Transsexual Competition Policy was updated in April 2019 and a copy of the full policy can be found here

Find out more

British Canoeing has signed and is committed to the Sporting Equals Charter. The Charter supports us to capture important data on ethnicity, commit to tackling inequalities at all levels, and celebrate positive role models and stories in the paddlesport community. We have more work to do, but our commitment to the Charter is one of many steps we can take to become a more diverse sport.

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Female Development Group

The Female Development Group is made up of coaches, support staff and female athletes striving to expand the knowledge and experiences of female paddlers, and those that support them.

Find out more

The aim is to create an open, educated and fun environment to enable female paddlers to optimise their health and performance. The group proactively releases information relating to female health and athletic development and supports relevant campaigns via social media to improve awareness and understanding across the paddlesport community.

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British Canoeing Initiatives

British Canoeing have developed initiatives that target under-represented groups in paddling, whilst providing resources, training and schemes to support delivery by coaches, leaders and volunteers. Our initiatives include:

  • Paddle Ability: our inclusive programme that focuses on increasing regular participation for disabled people in paddling. We have also included information on Paracanoe here, which is the competitive pathway for disabled athletes.
  • #ShePaddles: our initiative designed to encourage more women and girls to participate in paddlesports

Find out more about these initiatives

Paddling for disabled people

Paddle Ability

Paddling is a fantastic sport for people with a disability with a wide range of opportunities, activities and adaptations to meet individual needs. Paddle-Ability is our inclusive programme that focuses on increasing regular participation for disabled people in paddling. 

The programme is currently undergoing a review and update, and further details of the programme and how to get involved will be released in due course. Whilst the review is taking place our free Introduction to Disability eLearning module and foundation Paddle Ability module are still available - please follow the links to complete them.



Paracanoe is a paddling discipline for athletes with physical impairments, raced over 200m. Athletes can compete in two types of boat, depending on their classification. The Paracanoe programme supports individuals who aspire to compete at the Paralympics.

You can find out more about the programme and how to find a club that delivers paracanoe activity on the Paracanoe page of the website


Paddling for women and girls 


#ShePaddles is our initiative designed to encourage more women and girls to participate in paddlesports. #ShePaddles works in lots of different ways, from creating role models in the paddling community to supporting clubs to understand how they can make their environments more welcoming to new members. To find out more about each section, follow the links.


#ShePaddles Ambassadors

Each year we choose ten inspirational women who share their love of paddlesport via social media and on the ground. Information on the 2021 application process will be published shortly. You can learn more about our #ShePaddles Ambassadors here


Facebook Women's Paddling Community 

This group was created to allow female paddlers (and those who want to become paddlers!) a space to share ideas, make new friends, meet up, swap advice and stories and discuss paddling more generally. The group can be found here.


#ShePaddles Club Champions

Funding from the Sport England Diversity fund is enabling us to create 100 opportunities in clubs and organisations across England for women and girls to develop as Paddlesport Instructors. The project aims to improve the paddlesport provision for women and girls in clubs and organisations and focuses on those near to cities. Applications will open on March 8th. To learn more click here.


Engaging Women in Paddlesport document

This document was produced to provide guidance to clubs, centres and other organisations who want to gain and retain more female members/participants. You can download it here


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Diversity in our Organisation

Click the 'find out more' link to discover more about the organisational and board diversity within British Canoeing. You can also find the Board Diversity Statement and Action Plan here too.

Find out more

Organisational Diversity

British Canoeing is committed to ensuring that as an employer, we create a culture whereby inclusion is embedded in all we do, and recognise that diversity is essential to our success as an organisation.

British Canoeing undertakes Equality Monitoring of our staff annually, as well as conducting a staff survey. Equality Monitoring allows British Canoeing to understand where we have under-representation of any demographics, and monitor how changes to policy and delivery has impacted on the make-up of our staff body. The staff survey collects information from staff on their thoughts about our equality, diversity and inclusion work, both as an employer and our delivery to the paddlesport community. 


Board Diversity

British Canoeing supports and recognises the importance of diversity in its broadest sense throughout its organisation, including on its Board. The Board undergoes regular Equality training in order to ensure that the organisation's approach to diversity and inclusion is up to date and in keeping with best practice. This will next be delivered in 2021.

A diverse organisation will value and benefit from differences in paddling and sports skills, regional and industry experience, background, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, belief and age, as well as culture and personality. Currently, in accordance with the mandatory requirements of the Code for Sports Governance, 33% of the British Canoeing Board is female. British Canoeing will continue to proactively encourage diverse candidates for Board roles and improve gender equality. 

British Canoeing recognises that leadership and decision making is greatly improved when a Board is able to draw on, and harness, a diverse range of opinions, and in order to drive greater diversity, the Board has agreed this action plan which will be reviewed annually. During this review, the Board will monitor progress against the actions below and discuss updates required for the next year. The Board is firmly committed to progressing towards achieving gender parity and achieving greater diversity on its Board, including, but not limited to, ethnic diversity, LGBTQ+ representation and disability representation. Our objectives for board diversity are: 

  • Focus on encouraging diverse high calibre candidates for Board level roles.  
  • Consider candidates for Board appointments from a wide pool.  
  • Ensure Board appointment ‘long lists’ include diverse candidates.  
  • Report against these objectives and other initiatives to promote diversity annually.  
  • Report annually on the outcome of the Board evaluation including progress on achieving gender parity and greater diversity on the Board.

Useful Downloads

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