Rugby League

I&D Board

Meet the sport's Inclusion and Diversity Board

Aaqil Ahmed

Media ConsultantSet up his own media consultancy in 2017 following a 25-year career at the BBC and Channel 4, during which time he became the only person to be head of religion and head of multicultural programming at Channel 4. Aaqil is an award-winning television executive and Professor of Media, with numerous awards from BAFTA to Emmy.  

Aisha Suleiman 

Founder, The Inclusive Culture. Award-winning diversity and inclusion advocate with extensive experience in driving organisational change through leading effective employee networks and influencing senior leaders to bring about lasting change. Her company helps organisations achieve their diversity, inclusion, and business goals through effective employee networks. Aisha was the founding member of Amazon’s Black Employee Network (BEN) in the UK, starting from scratch and building it into an organisation that now has a significant impact on Amazon’s diversity and inclusion strategy.

Jodie Cunningham

Jodie Cunningham is an England international, a 2021 treble-winner with St Helens, the 2021 Woman of Steel, and an RLWC2021 ambassador and community engagement lead.

Chris Gibbons

Director, Inside InclusionMore than 15 years’ experience as a consultant and trainer, focusing on diversity and inclusion, anti-discrimination and anti-bullying across a range of industries including sport, education and finance.  

John Hughes

Director of Partnerships and Communities at Community Integrated Care, one of Britain’s biggest charities and Official Social Care Partner of the RFL. Has supported the development of inclusion through Rugby League and sport more widely. These include the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League and, with RLWC2021, the first ever large-scale volunteering and personal development programme for people who have care and support needs at a major event.

Michael Lawrence

Professional Rugby League player, Huddersfield Giants (Captain) and Jamaica. 

Nikunj Upadhyay

Group Head of Inclusion and Diversity, Wates Group. Experienced human resource professional with extensive experience across different facets of the function, from generalist ‘centre of expertise’-based roles. Has worked with leading global organisations and contributed to the delivery of their human capital strategy towards the achievement of business objectives.

Dr Rimla Akhtar MBE 

RFL Non-Executive Director and Inclusion Board Chair. Helps organisations drive positive change through strong governance, leadership and inclusion. Has spent over 15 years working in sports and governance, advises and leads projects with governments, private sports clubs, advocacy organisations, national and international sports bodies and community groups. Ranked 14th in Forbes’ 2018 global list of Most Influential Women in Sport.