Led by seven-time Formula 1 Champion Lewis Hamilton and Royal Academy of Engineering CEO Dr. Hayaatun Sillem, the Hamilton Commission has published a 93-page report examining diversity and inclusion in motorsport and engineering. Entitled "Accelerating Change: Improving Representation of Black People in UK Motorsport," the report is backed by data and academic research across the field. Along the way, researchers met with several motorsports and engineering professionals to talk about their experiences as well. In the end, the commission found that the Black people make up less than 1% of the sport. Adding on, there is a prevailing notion that F1 teams should hire the best candidates to lead their organizations. However, this mindset becomes troublesome because many of Europe's top STEM programs exclude those from marginalized communities. As a result, F1 teams often recruit from predominantly white candidate pools and progress is rarely made.
Black drivers and engineers that do breakthrough into the sport often experience racism from their colleagues. A GT engineer by the name of Quaashie detailed an incident in which he awkwardly witnessed his colleagues trade racist jokes about Black people while at work.
“Things got off to a bad start. We were trackside and jokes would be made about Black people; jokes about afro combs and fried chicken, to jokes about crime rates or poverty in Africa, which were inappropriate. I felt powerless. I was the only Black person trackside in my team," he said.
Quaashie decided to leave that team and find work with an F1 team. At his new job, he feels more supported and respected. Unfortunately, he is not the only engineer to experience such racism at work and he will likely not be the last.
To remedy these issues, the Hamilton Commission put together a list of ten recommendations for change-makers across the sport.
"We recommend that Formula 1 teams and other motorsport businesses broaden access to motorsport by expanding the apprenticeships provision to include higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships as an alternate pathway into the sector, as well as availability to paid work placement and work experience schemes," the report reads.
"We recommend that a new exclusions innovation fund be established, developing programs that address the factors that contribute to the high proportion of students from Black backgrounds being excluded from schools. We support the piloting of new approaches to increase the number of Black teachers in STEM subjects that lead to careers in engineering, namely mathematics, physics, design and technology, and computing."
The full report from the Hamilton Commission can be read here.
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