Make racing for everyone: Diversity in Racing Annual Update 2019 published

15 Dec 2019 BHA Features Grassroots

On behalf of the Diversity in Racing Steering Group

  • 2019 update highlights the opportunities that making racing more inclusive can create for British racing
  • Update also sets our four key areas of focus for 2020 and beyond and tracks the progress made since the DiRSG’s formation in 2018
  • Progress includes securing key funding from Racing Foundation for industry-wide diversity and inclusion activity

British racing’s Diversity in Racing Steering Group (DiRSG) has today published its 2019 annual update and highlighted the potential opportunities which could arise from making racing more inclusive.

The mainstream media interest created by the likes of Khadijah Mellah, Bryony Frost, Rachael Blackmore and Hollie Doyle along with the reaction to research published by PhD student Vanessa Cashmore was cited as evidence of how highlighting the breadth of talent in British racing can be used to attract new audiences and broaden racing’s appeal.

As well as emphasising the opportunities open to the sport, the report sets out the DiRSG’s overall strategy and priorities for the next 12-18 months. The four areas of focus are:

  1. Raising awareness of the importance of diversity & inclusion across racing through industry-wide events and a digital awareness and engagement campaign
  2. Collate and evaluate cross-industry diversity data, publishing where possible, to build a clear evidence base for decisions; new methods for data collection will also be explored
  3. Look at ways to create a culture of inclusivity in racing through the development and publishing of best practice toolkits and case studies for the industry as well as aligning with wider campaigns such as Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces
  4. Increase participation of female jockeys through further research into every stage of a female jockey’s career and by improving facilities on racecourses.

The update also tracks progress against British racing’s first Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan published in 2018 which includes securing vital funding from Racing Foundation to assist in key enabling activity in 2020, supporting PhD research by David Letts on masculinity within racing and carrying out a full audit of female jockey facilities in conjunction with the RCA, BHA and PJA.

Rose Grissell, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for British racing, said:

“The Diversity in Racing Steering Group has made good progress since its formation in 2018 and the publishing of the action plan, and since I joined the BHA it has been useful to understand more about how the different parts of the industry feel about making racing a more inclusive sport.

“Our focus now is on improving our evidence base, getting out to the industry and raising awareness of the benefits of having an inclusive sport. We aim to empower everyone in the industry to play their role in creating a sport which offers a big-hearted welcome for everyone.

“Without the funding recently received from the Racing Foundation the next stage of work would not have been possible, so our thanks must go to them. With this funding and a closer link to the industry stakeholders, through the support of the Members’ Committee, we’re excited for the year ahead and look forward to accelerating progress.”

Sulekha Varma, DiRSG member and recently appointed Regional Head of Racing, Jockey Club North West, said:

“Racing has a great opportunity to broaden its appeal, to the benefit of everyone in the sport. Since its formation, the Steering Group has worked hard to understand the current landscape within racing, looking at the important work already going on in the sport whilst also looking out for future opportunities.

“This update crystallises some of the work that has taken place so far within our key areas of focus, and now that we have some all-important funding in place we are looking forward to helping racing move further and faster towards becoming an even more welcoming and inclusive sport.”

There have also been changes in membership of the Diversity in Racing Steering Group with the British Racing School’s Di-Farrell Thomas, MEP Rory Palmer and trainers John Berry and Suzy Smith joining the group from 2020.

Notes to editors:

1. The DiRSG’s 2019 Annual Update can be viewed here.

2. The members of the Diversity in Racing Steering Group are: Josh Apiafi, Catherine Beloff, John Berry, Linda Bowles, Guy Disney, Zoe Elliott, Di Farrell-Thomas, Susannah Gill, Debbie Grey, Rose Grissell (Head of D&I for British racing), Lee Mottershead, Rory Palmer, Rishi Persad, Harriet Rochester, Nick Rust (Chair), Suzy Smith, Tanya Stevenson, Sulekha Varma and Laura Whyte. More information can be found here.

3. British racing’s first Diversity Action Plan, launched in June 2018, can be viewed here.