BHA response to Women’s representation and diversity in the horseracing industry survey

17 May 2017 Education/Training Grassroots

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) welcomes publication of the first-ever research study of women’s representation and diversity in racing. While this confirms that progress is being made on gender diversity, racing faces similar challenges to other sports in ensuring that people from all backgrounds are represented at all levels of our sport.

Focusing on the issue of gender diversity, the survey acknowledges that women are increasingly prominent in British racing, but it also confirms they remain under-represented, where just 16 per cent of people on Boards are women. Along with gender, age was raised as the most common factor for experiencing less favourable treatment, especially when people apply for promotion. Many people expressed more concern that our industry is not ethnically diverse; regrettably there were few people with a BME background who completed the survey.  The number of men and women reporting discrimination or inappropriate behaviour in their responses to the survey is clearly a concern as there can be no place for this anywhere in racing.

As Governing and Regulatory Body, we have made some progress with gender diversity but not enough. Women are well-represented at all levels of the BHA, accounting for about 30 per cent of each of our Board, our leadership team and our raceday officials. Our partnership with Godolphin for the Stud and Stable Staff Awards provides important recognition for racing staff, including some outstanding women role models. The BHA is taking action with other stakeholders to widen access points into the sport. More women than ever are joining our industry. Progress is also being made on gender diversity across racing, with women increasingly sitting on Boards and occupying chief executive and chair roles in racecourses, representative bodies, charities and other organisations that make up our industry. Some of our most successful owners, trainers and jockeys are women.

While we can be proud of a sport where women and men have the opportunity to compete on equal terms, we know from our own analysis that there is more to do to ensure that women are given the necessary encouragement, support and opportunities to be the best they can be. For example, women account for 12 per cent of all licensed jockeys, but just 6 per cent of all rides and only 1 per cent of rides in our very top races. Both the BHA and racing as a whole have more to do to ensure that our sport reflects and appeals to the widest possible audience and this means addressing all aspects of diversity, including, but not exclusively, gender diversity.

The BHA clearly has a role to play in leading the sport on the diversity agenda, but it cannot act alone. The business case for diversity is clear and unequivocal and everyone needs to buy into it. Not only is it fair, but study after study has shown that organisations take better decisions and perform better with diverse teams, and that tackling diversity issues has the scope to unlock huge amounts of potential, untapped talent. For example, in a spectator sport where 39 per cent of people who buy tickets are women, compared to 20 per cent in other sports, racing must reflect that audience diversity if it is to thrive and grow. We need to be innovative if we are to attract new audiences and people from all different backgrounds can play an important part in helping us generate a healthy breadth of new ideas.

In response to this survey, the BHA will consult with its members, horsemen and racecourses to consider carefully the recommendations made in the report and to consider what other actions and initiatives are necessary to improve diversity within our sport, many of which were also highlighted in the survey. We will provide an update on these discussions no later than the end of July 2017.

Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, said: “This survey serves as a stark reminder that while some progress has been made, there is much more that British racing needs to do to ensure that people receive the necessary encouragement, support and opportunities regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, disability or social background.

“Today, we’re restating our commitment to improve diversity in our sport. As the survey report highlights, to be successful, this requires a cross-industry effort, so we will now consult with racecourses and horsemen on additional actions we need to take, including the recommendations contained in this report.

“I’d like to thank Women in Racing and the many partners who made this research, possible, including the Racing Foundation for funding the study on behalf of our sport and for helping us keep diversity firmly on racing’s agenda.”

Notes to editors:

The BHA will consult with stakeholders on the recommendations in the report and other potential actions, including:

  • Developing and publishing a Diversity policy which will make clear our zero-tolerance to discrimination of any kind within racing
  • Publishing a Best Practice statement on governance including advisory targets for representation on Boards
  • Establishing a steering committee to drive and monitor progress in tackling diversity issues in our sport
  • The need for a dedicated resource to ensure that we have the policies and processes in place to encourage and support everyone to reach their full potential
  • Reviewing all leadership and participant training and development to ensure it includes specific content on unconscious bias.
  • Working with others in the industry and the racing media/broadcasters to raise the profile of successful role models from a diverse range of backgrounds
  • Increasing the number of senior-level mentors available to provide support and guidance in terms of their career development.
  • Producing an annual fact book on all aspects of diversity to track the progress we are making in our sport.
  • Exploring the need for incentives and/or any regulatory changes to ensure that female participants, and those from all backgrounds are given every opportunity to compete at the highest levels in our sport, while maintaining the principle of competition on equal terms.