Back in August 2021, London FA appointed Mervyn Lyn to be their new chair of the Inclusion Advisory Group.
The IAG aims to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion across grassroots football in London, ensuring that football in the capital city is a game for all.
As part of Black History Month 2021, we sat down with Mervyn to discuss his plans for the IAG and why he is proud to support diversity and inclusion across London.
Firstly, what made you want to apply for the role of London FA IAG Chair?
This is simple, I am extremely passionate about equality and inclusion. I’ve spent the best part of my working life within the business of music but always trying to level the playing field for everybody. Over the last few years my efforts have been rewarded and I’ve managed to play a part in making significant changes in the industry I love. My other love is football and I've been lucky enough to play at a decent level but more importantly experienced grassroots football first hand. I’ve seen first hand discrimination, abhorrent racism, homophobia and misogynistic behaviour. If I am now able to effect to change in the current paradigm then I can be counted on every time. So to answer your question; I love football, I love equality and when I was asked by board member who knew my passions if I had seen the role, in my mind the path was destined.
Can you explain to us about your journey to where you are today?
I started off as a DJ way back in 1978 and managed to gather quite a following. This led me to work at the foremost soul music magazine in the country, Blues & Soul. I joined my first record company, Virgin in 1983 and spent 4 happy years learning the business. After a stint at heading the European arm of a New York based independent label I was appointed head of marketing for Motown and went on to be GM Motown International responsible for the marketing and promotion of Motown world wide excluding the US. I left Motown in the early 90’s and joined BMG which evolved into SonyBMG and then Sony Music Entertainment. I spent 18 years there in senior roles including VP R&B Marking, VP International - Europe, VP Marketing, VP A7R & Business Development RCA Records and finally VP Strategic Partnerships. I left Sony in 2012 having worked with some of the greatest artists in the world including: Whitney, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters, Puffy, TLC, OustKast, The Notorious B.I.G, P!NK, Christina Aguilera, Santana, Maroon 5 and Alicia Keys amongst others.
What is your previous experience in championing equality, diversity & inclusion?
I have always been an advocate of equality and started the Music4Good internship at Sony which helped candidates from less advantaged backgrounds get a foothold in the business. This scheme was the fore runner of the now BPI (British Phonographic Industry) Apprenticeship Program. I am currently on the Equality & Justice Advisory Group (EJAG) which I initially founded with BPI Chairman Ged Doherty following the “Grammys So White” headline a few years ago. Also serve on UK Music Diversity Taskforce. UK Music is the lobbying arm of the British music industry including promoters, agents, Musician Union, publishers, record companies etc. Through this task force we have been able to undertake a diversity audit and create a 10 point plan to address inclusion, diversity and equality.
What plans do you have for promoting equality, diversity & inclusion across grassroots football in London?
It’s a bit too early to say what plans need to be put into place as I’ve not yet assessed just what the current landscape is at the moment. Overall though my plan is to focus on inclusion as I believe without inclusion there can be no diversity. Everybody has to feel they have a voice and when the speak it is listened to. If we get to this place diversity will be a welcomed by-product.
Why are you proud to be London FA IAG chair?
Anybody would be proud to chair such a recognised and established organisation that has so much resonance to so many people. We will do all we can to make it one to be proud of because of the things we do and not just say we’ll do, I’m a doer.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by so many people but particularly in sport I am inspired by Colin Kaepernick and his resolute determination to the cause. Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.