Ground-breaking research calls to progress gender diversity in horseracing

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

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The first ever research into diversity in British horseracing has been published today by the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice at Oxford Brookes University and Women in Racing (WiR).

Entitled Women’s representation and diversity in the horseracing industry, the research demonstrates the requirements to develop a diversity agenda within the sport.

Professor Simonetta Manfredi, Professor of Equality and Diversity Management at Oxford Brookes University and Director of the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice, lead the research with PhD Researcher and Research Assistant Kate Clayton-Hathway.

She said: “My colleagues and I are grateful to The Racing Foundation and Women in Racing for the opportunity to produce the first research on gender and other diversities in their sport. 

The issues highlighted are very similar to those experienced by other sectors, and we hope the findings provide the strong evidence and recommendations British horseracing needs to achieve greater diversity across its different functions.

Professor Simonetta Manfredi, Director of the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice, Oxford Brookes University

“The issues highlighted are very similar to those experienced by other sectors, and we hope the findings provide the strong evidence and recommendations British horseracing needs to achieve greater diversity across its different functions. 

“We wish to express our appreciation to all those who have generously given their time to take part in this research and make this study possible.”

The research’s most immediate recommendation is to establish an independent diversity steering body to support British horseracing in developing a deeper understanding of its diversity, with the longer-term target of such a steering group to set industry-wide voluntary diversity targets and developing an effective monitoring mechanism. 

Furthermore, the research addresses how these recommendations could be achieved within existing structures and organisations within British horseracing.

Additionally, the research sets out further actions to help improve gender diversity in leadership roles and addresses some of the career barriers women face within the sport at all levels including mentoring and the positive impact of visible role models. 

Whilst progress is being made at all levels within horseracing in respect of gender diversity, issues for women working and involved within the sport are identified within the research, which include:

  • lack of career development opportunities (at all levels including jockeys), progression and suppor
  • some examples of discriminative, prejudice and bullying behaviour
  • barriers and lack of representation at senior and board level; and
  • negative experiences of work-life balance and pastoral care.

The requirement for the research to be undertaken was recognised by WiR. Most other sports, particularly Olympic disciplines, have a diversity agenda and monitoring mechanisms in place, as well as independent reporting, which have all be developed off the back of similar research. WiR confirmed its commitment and desire to work with British horseracing to act upon the findings and recommendations. 

Sally Rowley-Williams, Founder and Honorary President of WiR said: “This is a ground-breaking piece of research for British horseracing. It sets out clear recommendations which the sport needs to act on. As the sport’s governing body, the BHA is best placed to lead on progressing the diversity agenda but it is for all in the sport to play their part. Women in Racing will do all it can to facilitate change and make sure this research is just the starting point for taking forward the diversity agenda within British horseracing. 

“On behalf of Women in Racing I would like to thank The Racing Foundation for their financial support which made this research possible, and to the team at Oxford Brookes University for undertaking and delivering such an excellent piece of work.

“British horseracing has within it some excellent people but we need to all work together to ensure existing and future talent is attracted to and able to thrive within our sport.”

The full report can be viewed on the Women in Racing website.