On UN's International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Kick It Out CEO Tony Burnett writes that when it comes to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, we need to hold leaders accountable for delivering results, and not just plans and strategies.

It’s a chilly Saturday night in Nuneaton.

One of those evenings where anything other than snuggling on the couch in front of a movie with the heating on full seems impossible. We decide to watch Fisher King, an interesting and thought provoking Robin Williams classic. Fighting discrimination is far back in my consciousness when a one liner in the movie suddenly jolts me back to reality.

A homeless character is begging on the street when a passer by throws him some change which completely misses his collection pot and lands on the floor. Another character points out “that guy didn’t even look at you” and the homeless person replies “ he’s paying so he doesn’t have to look “.

The comparison hits me like a bolt of lightning as I realise the fight against discrimination has now descended into a plethora of ineffective investments across a range of initiatives that make no difference whatsoever. Success for leaders has become investment rather change. Tokenism rather than substance. Input rather than outcomes.

We are handing out awards and offering pats on the back to leaders for simply trying and then we wonder why progress has not been made and the leaders of today make exactly the same mistakes as those of twenty years ago.

In the last few weeks alone we have seen a leader within the world of Cricket quote ill-informed stereotypes regarding the reasons why Black and Asian young people are not progressing within the sport. We have seen a prominent football club who waited almost two years to conclude a disciplinary process of a colleague who used an incredibly offensive racial slur. We have seen a well-known manager, still in his job, charged with kicking his wife in the head. We have seen another club who’s players were almost forced to go on strike in order to get action taken against a club employee who had racially abused players from another club.

It is often said that sport mirrors society and at a national level we have seen the debacle of the Met Police once again failing to acknowledge and address racist and misogynistic views amongst officers that reinforces the lack of confidence in policing now common within many communities. An undisputed fact which our government has no appetite to address.

Politicians of all persuasions have failed on this issue for decades and the failure is one of leadership. As a young man brought up with a Union Steward as a father, I was encouraged to support the Labour party, however I look at the Labour party nowadays and I do not see many people like me in senior positions. How can it be that Labour, for decades the so called party of Black and Asian communities still does not reflect those communities in its highest positions? Tokenism rather than action, words rather than tangible commitment.

In any system, the change must be driven by leadership. The standards they set are the benchmark for any organisation and too often when it comes to tackling discrimination they have failed. They have failed and they have been allowed to fail and the question is why? If we want to drive meaningful change in this area leaders would be held accountable for delivering outcomes. A plan is the just the transport its not the destination and yet we continue to reward plans rather than delivery of outcomes when it comes to diversity and equality. This is not accidental, it is a strategy of appeasement which seeks to avoid progress and our leaders are culpable for promoting it.

I fully understand when our football players question the progress that has been made in tackling discrimination because I share their reservations. The challenge is really straightforward. It is about leadership and making leaders accountable for driving real change rather than offering token gestures. We have to start focussing on outcomes not just investment. I don’t want the money if you aren’t prepared to look, listen and deliver the changes required to become truly inclusive.