British horse racing makes diversity and inclusion vow

Top British horse racing organisations have formed a unified ‘Industry Commitment’ as part of a vow to improve diversity and inclusion within the sport, and help it to ‘grow and thrive’ in the future.

Among those organisations that have signed up to the programme are the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Racecourse Association (RCA), Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), Thoroughbred Breeders Association (TBA), National Trainers Federation (NTF), Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), National Association of Racing Staff (NARS) and Great British Racing (GBR).

One of the few sports where all genders compete on equal terms, the proposals will formalise the sport’s approach to diversity and inclusion, building on ongoing initiatives such as community engagement, education activity and charitable projects.

Moreover, much of the work is highlighted through the Racing Together platform, which showcases over 80 initiatives across horse racing.

Maggie Carver, Chair of the RCA, said: “Racing is for everyone. Racecourses want to welcome back as many racegoers as possible when it is safe to do so and our collective commitment to improving Diversity and Inclusion is a vital part of our future.

“The RCA’s strategy to help racecourses in this regard is evolving and we are already forming plans on how to increase our understanding of existing and potential new racegoers so we can better serve a wider section of society and increase racing’s fan base.”

Measures implemented to achieve this include the introduction of a requirement for a minimum of 30% of each gender on the boards of participating organisations by the end of 2022, as well as the appointment of a specific board member to champion diversity and inclusion and coordinate specific activities relating to this.

The Industry Commitment follows the establishment of the Diversity in Racing Steering Group in 2017 and represents part of British racing’s COVID-19 ‘Recovery Plan for British racing’, which includes putting in place foundations for a longer-term sustainable recovery.

Comprising five pillars, the Industry Commitment focuses primarily on Leadership and Accountability, Good Governance, Education and Awareness Raising, Celebrating Racing’s Diversity, and Engaging New Audiences.

“This is an important step forward for the sport,” explained Annamarie Phelps, Chair of the BHA. “We have so much to celebrate in British racing, including men and women being able to compete on a level playing field.

“Equally, it is the responsibility of all of us in the sport to ensure we can showcase British racing as a modern sport which is truly diverse, inclusive and open to all. Being proactive about improving diversity is essential to the long-term viability of the sport, but first and foremost it is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Each organisation will identify its own priorities and activities under these five areas, and these will be mapped out in their individual Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans, due to be published during 2021 with updates on progress reported annually, with other organisations encouraged to join the Industry Commitment.

Tony Langham, Chairman of GBR, added: “It is vital that all of us within racing do more to increase diversity and inclusion in the sport. The commitment is an important step but we need action as well as words from the industry and it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that there is continuous, sustained and tangible progress.”

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