10 Years Since London 2012
By Lydia Cronin
It has been 10 years since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Games illustrated an inspiring commitment to inclusion, which was espoused by the London Olympic and Paralympic Games’ Organising Committee. In order to truly deliver a ‘Games for everyone’, inclusion had to be embedded throughout each aspect of the Games, from recruitment to design to ticketing.
Included reached out to those involved in making the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games inclusive and accessible to find out about key diversity and inclusion lessons from the Games, and progression over the last decade.
What was your role in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games?
Stephen Frost: I joined the Organising Committee in early 2007, as Executive Assistant to Paul Deighton, the CEO. My role was essentially supporting him in running the organisation. This involved personnel, stakeholder and operational issues. It also included Diversity and Inclusion which became my main focus from 2008, after the Beijing handover, as Head of D&I for London 2012. This built on my existing work and used all my existing relationships to ensure it was truly embedded un everything we did as a Games.
Paul Williamson: I was Director of Ticketing (and Hospitality) at London 2012. We developed innovative diversity and inclusion plans for ticketing, which we embedded in our plans and products. As well as having clear policies and being in tune with the LOCOG directions, we made it real for the public.
Louise Jolly: I was the Head of Ticket Sales for London 2012. We removed any barriers that would have prevented people from buying tickets and being part of the Games. We challenged our ticket agency and ourselves to make the ticketing programme as accessible as possible throughout the entire customer journey. When we got told that disabled customers would need to call a contact centre to book their tickets we pushed back and made the ordering process fully inclusive online. The ticketing software that was used was designed to the highest accessibility standards to make it easy and open for everyone to use.
Natalie Cramp: I originally joined in January 2009 as a Workforce Planning Analyst, trying to forecast the demand for the 200,000 person workforce and understanding the supply, where we would have gaps and where there were opportunities to fulfil our ambitions to support diverse cohorts into work. I moved on to work on reward, policy, and our trade union partnership, with the existing venues to integrate our two workforces to deliver a seamless experience for athletes and spectators alike, and to support Jean Tomlin as her Business Manager. Operationally, I supported delivery of both test events and Games time.
What key diversity and inclusion lesson did you take away from London 2012? Has this shaped your work going forward?
SF: That you have to start from where people are. There’s no point lecturing or grandstanding, that only gets people’s back up. It’s actions that matter, and how you do them as much as what you actually do. This has definitely shaped my work going forwards. The methodology I created then, Understand, Lead, Deliver, is one of the core methods of the company I went on to establish, Included. I also wrote a book, The Inclusion Imperative, which detailed the lessons learned from London 2012. This has been the first of now four books with the team.
PW and LJ: Here are some key initiatives we made:
- The widest price range for Opening Ceremony ever seen. From £20.12 to £2012 we made tickets affordable as well as memorable. Everyone who applied had a chance to attend.
- All sports pricing began at £20. We had 2,000,000 tickets at £20. This made Olympics and Paralympics were genuinely affordable.
- We had child tickets at 230+ sessions – ‘pay your age’. This meant a 5 year old paid £5 and a 10 year old paid £10. This made the tickets but fun and accessible. This extended to the elderly; if 60 or over you paid £16 and felt young again.
- We used a ballot to allocate and distribute tickets so it was fair to everyone who applied.
- We created multiple ticket types for people with disabilities including seats for visually impaired fans, seats for hearing impaired fans, seats for people who could not climb stairs, seats for people who disliked heights and wheelchair positions (plus free carer) at every price level. We then created ’Ticketcare’ for people who had special needs or multiple carers. And all could be bought online.
- Ticketshare became our CSR programme, funded by a levy on hospitality sales, it generated 300,000 free of charge tickets for youth and school groups across every sport. (And also to Tickets for Troops).
- Ticket-fill became our Games-time plan to utilise empty accredited seats with school groups in key venues.
- Ticket re-use around the Olympic Park venues enabled people with a £10 Park ticket to access multiple sports when fans left early, so they could watch Olympic sports live.
- In the Paras we had very affordable £10 tickets across all sports. We then created Para ‘day pass tickets’ to enable people to taste 3 or 4 sports on one ticket, seeing multiple Para sports for the first time.
- We designed and printed Ticketing Guides that were accessible on every high street across the UK. The Ticketing Guide was also created in braille and large print.
NC: My experience at London 2012 and the fantastic people I was privileged to learn from like Jean Tomlin and Stephen Frost has completely shaped the way I have approached diversity and inclusion throughout my career. It was the most diverse group of people I had ever been a part of, and I experienced the way my thinking was challenged and the huge value in that. In the 10 years since London 2012, I have striven to recreate it in every organisation. Perhaps the most practical thing I learnt was that the best thing is always to ask the individual, for example disability comes in more than a hundred different forms, very few visible. People get scared of getting it wrong, and so shy away from approaching people and learning. Not trying is far worse. Ask the questions, learn, and adapt your thinking. Only by doing that will you ever be able to be more inclusive as an individual and as a business. Finally, if your pipeline of talent isn’t diverse, that’s on you – do the work to change the pipeline don’t change your standards.
What D&I developments have you seen since London 2012?
SF: In the 10 years since London 2012, developments have been overwhelmingly positive. Diversity and inclusion has shot up the agenda of business and government – so the main development is awareness. However, because it’s often executed poorly it runs the risk of contributing to polarisation, and we see that in our daily lives so it’s important to always make the work inclusive.
PW: Since 2012, our initiatives have helped shape the ongoing agenda. All major sports events have provision for child prices and for proper disabled access. We understood how to attract new spectators – over 50% of sales were to women. The Hundred is now picking up on this. No-one in the UK now charges for a disabled person’s carer.
We used innovative pricing to engage with wider groups in society. This has continued – eg we had child priced tickets at £9.58 for the World Athletics 2017 to celebrate Usain Bolt’s world record. Pricing can be a marketing tool.
Sports organisers are now much more conscious about affordability and full stadia, so find ways to reduce ticket prices to attract larger crowds.
Key groups such as The Premier League have pushed for better disabled access and provision at all stadia.
Members of the 2012 ticketing team joined other venues and changed their policies.
LJ: The high standards that were set by the 2012 team, supported by Stephen Frost’s team, are now being implemented at other major sporting events around the world. The ticketing team saw what could be achieved and how important inclusivity and accessibility is. They now strive to make ticketing as accessible as possible and continue to challenge individuals or companies when they don’t meet these standards.
NC: I think one of the things that was a direct legacy was the way D&I questions and requirements were integrated into procurement standards, forcing people to think about what they were doing in these areas if they wanted to gain contracts with some of the most desirable brands, or the most lucrative government contracts. That has had a huge impact. It is a regular question which I am asked as a business pitching for work, and there have been times where our diversity has been the differentiator as to why Profusion have won contracts. We’ve seen how much more awareness exists and that it is at least discussed at board room tables now, everyone is expected to have a strategy and there are so many more networks for people from under-represented groups to support one another to navigate the obstacles we too often face. Overall, sadly, I think we are quite a long way off the better intentions being implemented effectively, so there is still more to do.
Personally, London 2012 completely shaped my thinking and approach to diversity and inclusion and it is a consequence of that, that I run a data/tech company which far outstrips the industry averages in diversity.
What D&I progress would you like to see in the next 10 years?
SF: I’d like D&I to be as inclusive as possible and lead by example – so everyone has the opportunity to lead inclusively. Then, rather than have to argue the case for D&I, we can simply ask why wouldn’t you?
PW: More needs to be done to chase accessibility as well as revenue targets. Hopefully the next decade will see the blend improve. In 2012 ,we walked the walk not just talked the talk.
NC: I am very passionate about how data can better be used by organisations as an enabler for inclusion, not self reported metrics, but using data science to identify where hidden top talent in organisations are, what’s happening to progression of diverse cohorts and what are the levers we have to positively change that, understanding whether just because you have achieved diversity you have achieved inclusion through analysis of networks within organisations and those included in meetings where key decisions are made, enabling organisations to understand from an outsiders perspective looking in are they walking the walk, not just talking the talk. There is so much potential in data, used within the right ethical framework, to advance our EDI work in the next decade, so that inclusion becomes commonplace and we don’t have to ask ourselves this question in another ten years.
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games had a significant impact, not only through the event itself, but also through specific actions such as ensuring that recruitment polices were not a barrier to success for people with disabilities. This film features interviews with London 2012 para-athletes who discuss the positive impact that the Games had on their careers inside and outside sport. They also share how this shaped their work with their communities.
Since 2012, Included has worked with the International Paralympic Committee and continues to work with Organising Committees of Paris 2024 and LA 2028. Sport is a key driver of social inclusion and the London 2012 Games served as a beacon for this message. Included is proud to be founded out of this Olympic legacy, and the Olympics and Paralympics remain central to our work.
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