Racing Home is a report highlighting the challenges faced by working mothers in the horseracing industry. The Centre for Diversity Policy Research of Oxford Brookes Business School, Women in Racing and Simply Racing have published a report that aims to address the challenges faced by women working in the highly male-dominated horseracing industry. This report is the first of its type and it is a ground-breaking work that highlights the hardship working mothers face when returning to work. Furthermore, the research looks at working practices and contains recommendations that are based on interviews with both men and women from the horse racing industry. It not only highlights, but challenges outdated attitudes, working practices and gender inequalities towards motherhood.
Women’s Representation and Diversity in the Horseracing Industry
It is generally recognised that women form an increasing proportion of the horseracing workforce, though this shift has not been widely acknowledged or catered for. Both attitudinal and structural barriers have caused many women either to leave the industry prematurely, or to decide not to join in the first place. This creates a drain on talent and resources with cost implications, often for employers operating on tight margins.
Maintaining a flow of fresh talent while keeping hold of experienced staff is essential to the ongoing success of the industry and retaining expertise and organisational memory. ‘Racing Home’ is a qualitative study exploring the ways in which the industry can improve retention of working mothers and parents as one way to achieve this goal. It aims to broaden understanding of industry experiences relating to motherhood, identify what needs to change and share expertise to develop potential solutions.
The study, funded by The Racing Foundation and Kindred Group built on the, primarily quantitative, work of Oxford Brookes University for Women in Racing’s 2017 study ‘Women’s representation and diversity in the horseracing industry’. That work identified a need for greater support for women during pregnancy and maternity, in addition to dealing more generally with family life and caring responsibilities. The subsequent ‘Racing Home’ study develops a much deeper understanding of what is needed through a rich set of data, where we engaged with close to 120 individuals. As well as collecting opinions based on lived experience, we were able to collate good practice for employers and wide-ranging suggestions for solutions. A series of short, medium and long-term steps for action were developed, drawing on input from research participants, and building collaboration across the industry. These included:
- providing a toolkit to support employees and employers
- creating better support for mothers around childcare and mentoring
- challenging existing inflexibilities in working practices to become a more family-friendly industry.