British horse racing has published its first diversity and inclusion action plan as a steering group says parts of the sport are “out of kilter with modern British society”.

The body, which contains 16 individuals from the racing industry, was set up last year after a report highlighted prejudice and barriers limiting the development of women in racing.

The Diversity in Racing steering group now wants to broaden the sport’s relevance in all areas of British society.

Among the proposals are:

  • Taking action to reduce the gender pay gap in horse racing
  • Striving for at least 30% of board members across racing to be women by 2021
  • Publishing a safeguarding policy to protect anyone involved in racing from abuse and establish clear channels for abusive behaviour to be reported
  • Working with campaigns like ‘rainbow laces’ to create an environment where everyone in racing can be open about their sexuality

Governing body, the British Horseracing Authority, is endorsing the plan and says it wants to put the issue at the heart of British racing.

The BHA will create a new Head of Diversity and Inclusion role and hope to have someone in place later this year.

It also intends to carry out research aimed at understanding how the sport can attract diverse audiences more effectively.

Horse racing estimates it employs 85,000 people around Great Britain and measures its contribution to the economy at over £3bn.

BHA chief executive Nick Rust said he hoped everyone in the sport would welcome the publication of the new proposals.

“At a time when we need to be attracting the best talent and growing our sport there is a clear commercial, as well as moral, case for making sure British racing is a sport where everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential and where fans of all communities feel welcome,” he said.

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