Calls for more action on tackling racial inequality in British racing have been made following a panel discussion on the issue.
The Diversity in Racing steering group’s Let’s Talk About Race webinar on 10 November was hosted by broadcaster Nick Luck, joined by panellists Sheeren Daniels of anti-racism advisory firm HR Rewired, sports presenter and former cricketer Michael Holding, Great British Racing non-executive chairman Tony Langham and racehorse trainer Suzy Smith. There were 250 people engaged with the event, which focused on providing an “educational insight and a collective conversation on racism” and how the industry can progress.
Suzy Smith highlighted the gap between racing’s “actual behaviour” and the industry’s perceived behaviour.
“British racing has a diverse workforce, but people will not stay in the sport if our understanding of racism and behaviours around race are not improved,” she said.
“People of colour are [strongly] represented in our yards, but what message is it giving to them when as a sport we have not addressed anything since the murder of George Floyd? Forget about bringing people into horseracing, I worry that our silence has affected the people we already have.”
Jamaican-born Michael, who lives in Newmarket and has written a book Why We Kneel, How We Rise, highlighted the importance of more education on Black history, and discussed the meaning of “white privilege”.
“White privilege means that white people do not have the problem of overcoming dark skin. Because of the colour of my skin people form an immediate impression of me; someone once came up to me at the Epsom Derby when I was standing by a lift, dressed in top hat and tails, asking for directions automatically thinking I was working there,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean white people don’t have challenges, all people do, but they don’t have to overcome the obstacle of having dark skin before they even start their journey.”
Shereen Daniels discussed progressing racial diversity on a corporate level. She said this should start at board level, which can then filter down a business.
“When it comes to board representation, I don’t want to see black faces in white spaces, I want to know they have got budget responsibilities, they have profit and loss to look after and can make decisions because of their capabilities,” she said.
The Diversity in Racing steering group will launch a diversity and inclusion e-learning module on the British Horseracing Authority’s Racing2Learn platform at the end of the year, which joins to the LGBT+ module, and will provide a “valuable opportunity” for anyone in racing to learn more on key issues related to diversity and inclusion.
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