On a mission to create an inclusive, healthy culture in elite British surfing through a commitment to ED&I

GB Surfing’s ED&I Advisory Group Chair, Sarah Howe, reflects on her first six months in the role.

I can’t quite believe that it’s already six months since I became Chair of GB Surfing’s brand new Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) Advisory Group. I’m happy with what we’ve already managed to put in place, but there’s loads more to achieve and that’s exciting, especially the opportunity to be progressive.

Working in partnership with the Home Nations, our collective goal is Olympic medals by Brisbane 2032 and achieving that with an inclusive team of elite athletes and support staff who represent the diverse and rich culture of British society.  Our talented young surfers are already smashing it on the international stage, achieving Britain’s best ever team result at the 2024 ISA World Games in February, climbing 5 places from 2023 and finishing 13th overall.


So, with a blank sheet of paper back In December 2023, how did I approach my role and the task ahead?

  1. Listening – to all the experts involved in the sport and also doing my research
  2. Reflecting – on what I was learning, but also assessing this against my own knowledge and experience
  3. Simplifying – understanding the priorities and focusing with a manageable plan
  4. Resourcing – building out the team with talented and passionate people with a great can-do attitude
  5. Actioning – throughout all of the above steps in fact, and not waiting until step 4 was complete!


And what have we achieved in the first half of 2024, at the very start of our ED&I journey?


Now, looking forward to the second half of 2024, what are our priorities?

Firstly, we plan to roll-out our demographic survey in the Autumn, around the time of the GB Cup. This will provide us with a clear view on where we need to improve our reach and diversity within elite surfing, so we can focus on improving the accessibility and inclusion of under-represented groups. Olympic champions can come from anywhere in the country and we need to ensure that potential also has access.

We are hoping to partner with academics and universities to ensure a robust methodology and credibility of the data and will also be working in collaboration with the home nations to ensure alignment and benefit to all stakeholders.

Secondly, the GB Cup itself. Our intention is to develop this event with an ED&I lens, with the aim of doing things a little differently, hopefully more innovatively, and demonstrate our commitment to greater diversity and inclusion.

Finally, to partner with the GB Surfing Board to establish and agree the core behaviours and values that will guide us as an organisation and be central to nurturing the type of inclusive, welcoming and healthy culture within which our talent can succeed.

Before I sign-off for now, I’d like to say a big thanks to the whole GB Surfing team for making me feel so welcome over the last six months, and for the opportunity to meet some fascinating and massively talented people. It’s wonderful that I can bring my passion for surfing and my professional expertise together in a role that can help to truly make cultural progress in sport.

Now, let’s go make some waves!