The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today provided an update regarding its ongoing discussions with racing’s stakeholders on diversity in the sport.
This principally follows the publication in May of a research study into women’s representation and diversity in horseracing by Oxford Brookes University on behalf of Women in Racing and co-funded by The Racing Foundation.
Racing faces similar challenges to other sports in ensuring that people from all backgrounds are represented at all levels of the sport. Having consulted with organisations across the sport, the BHA is leading an industry response to the issues raised in the research study as part of a broader focus on diversity and inclusion.
The BHA is pleased to confirm that a key recommendation of the research study – the establishment of an independent body to act as champions in supporting the industry in its efforts to increase its diversity – is being progressed along with a number of other initiatives as outlined below.
The formation of a new Diversity in Racing Steering Group will include representation from across the sport, including a minimum four positions which will be open to application to people who have experience, interest and commitment to improving diversity in the sport.
The Diversity in Racing Steering Group will meet quarterly and members may be required to undertake some ad hoc work outside of meetings in line with the discussions and agreed objectives of the group. The application form can be found here.
Applications are welcomed from anyone with a passion for improving diversity in British racing. Applicants do not need to be currently employed in or around the industry but some knowledge of the sport is essential. In addition, applicants do not necessarily need to be based full time in the UK but there would be an expectation that some in person engagement in the Diversity in Racing Steering Group will be required for the group’s meetings. The application window closes on 1 September.
Membership will include:
- Laura Whyte, BHA Board Member
- Nick Rust, BHA Chief Executive
- Catherine Beloff, BHA Director of Legal and Governance
- Susannah Gill, Women in Racing Committee Member and Arena Racing Company Director of External Affairs
- Sulekha Varma, Hamilton Park Racecourse Race Manager
- Patricia Pugh, Racehorse Owners Association Board Member and Packard Curator, Palace House, Newmarket
- Debbie Grey, National Association of Stable Staff Office Manager
- Linda Bowles, The Jockey Club Group People Director
- Lee Mottershead, Racing Post journalist
- Josh Apiafi, Rewards4Racing Founder and Director
- Rishi Persad, ITV presenter
- Other appointed members
Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, said: “The BHA is conscious that managing diversity is a continuous process of improvement, not a one-off initiative.
“We are committed to the establishment of a steering group which will lead and direct our sport in this vital area. A core membership of stakeholder representatives has been established and we invite others – both from within racing and other industries – who share our passion to enhance diversity and inclusivity to apply to be a part of this important group.
“The establishment of the steering group is the first of a number of steps we intend to take as we strive to enhance the diversity of our sport.
“The business case for diversity is clear and unequivocal – not only is it fair, but study after study has shown organisations make better decisions and perform better with diverse teams. Tackling diversity issues has the potential to unlock huge amounts of potential and untapped talent. We must be innovative if we are to attract new audiences and people from all different backgrounds to help us generate a healthy breadth of new ideas.
“I invite anyone with an interest in championing diversity in sport to consider applying to join our new steering group.”
At the time the research study was released, the BHA committed to consulting with stakeholders on the recommendations of the report and other potential actions. The BHA is:
- Underway with a programme of unconscious bias training, starting with its Executive, followed by its Board and Leadership Team
- Working with external advisors to carry out a governance audit, an important component of which is receiving advice and assistance on ensuring that our zero tolerance stance on discrimination of any kind is embedded within our governance-related policies
- Appointing a Diversity Champion who will lead and coordinate efforts across the sport to enhance diversity and inclusivity
- Supporting the Women in Racing mentor programme and continuing its internal induction programme which supports new staff at the BHA
- Expanding upon the statistics featured in its annual report to include statistics on diversity
- Developing a diversity questionnaire and encouraging all participants and BHA staff to complete it in order to establish a base-line against which Steering Group objectives can be set and progress monitored
- Conducting a benchmarking exercise by contacting all major international horseracing authorities to provide examples of steps taken to encourage diversity along with any evaluation of such initiatives, including in relation to supporting the career progression of female jockeys.
The BHA will recommend to the Steering Group that it consider the following:
- Setting cross-industry advisory targets for Board and Senior Management
- Rolling out a programme of diversity awareness training for the industry and reviewing training programmes for bias
- Raising the profile of successful role models and discussing how they can be best promoted in order to change attitudes and perceptions about working in racing
- Establishing an industry-wide mentor programme.