Diversity in racing: Rust calls on sport to up its game over minority groups
Racing needs to examine whether it has a problem with bias over diversity issues, BHA chief executive Nick Rust told the sport on Monday night.
Rust was speaking at the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards in London at which he said there needed to be better representation of minority groups.
"We are fortunate within horseracing to have such a diverse workforce," Rust told guests. "We have a 50-50 gender balance among our stud and racing staff and around a quarter of our workforce are from outside Britain, with more than half of these outside of the European Economic Area. However, diversity does not always mean equality."
Rust revealed that of the 265 nominations received for the awards, 90 per cent were from a white British or Irish background.
"We need to look at what lies behind this and ensure far better representation across the various minority groups in future years," Rust went on.
"Ensuring equality of opportunity within our sport is something that our relatively newly formed diversity in racing steering group is challenging.
"We need to challenge ourselves as to whether there exists a conscious or unconscious bias within our industry when it comes to issues such as gender, race or disability."
Rust also warned the sport needed to increase staffing levels.
"Our workforce is one of our greatest assets," he said. "The finalists in the room tonight are wonderful ambassadors for their colleagues – highly-skilled people with fascinating careers and daily lives working with amazing equine athletes in an elite sport.
"They are rightly receiving recognition for their work tonight. They and their 6,000 colleagues demonstrate year-round dedication, compassion and commitment to ensuring our horses are so well cared for.
"The fact of the matter is our sport needs more of them. We are making a concerted effort right across the sport to make British racing an alternative and attractive career choice and to ensure that we recruit, train and importantly retain talented individuals to form the backbone of our sport."
The MP for West Suffolk, whose constituency includes Newmarket, praised racing's workforce and said the sport could not carry on without them.
Hancock himself rode the John Gosden-trained Dick Doughtywylie to win a charity race at Newmarket.
"I couldn't have done any of this without the staff who helped me and the people who taught me how to do that," he said. "And so I've seen from first-hand experience just what you do. I love it, I think it's vital for this sport's future. I promise to give you all the support I possibly can in both my local and my national roles."
Hancock went on to give "a huge vote of thanks on behalf of the British government" to Sheikh Mohammed for creating and sponsoring the awards, as well as thanking the BHA for organising them and the Racing Post for its support of the evening.
He went on: "But most of all to tonight's nominees, you have all played a huge part in making racing a top attraction and in showing that it can be a great career.
"And to stable staff everywhere you make the sport we love tick, it wouldn't happen without you so tonight we salute you."
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