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Sir Lewis Hamilton Launches an Initiative to Bring More Black Britons into UK Motorsport



By Features Desk



Friday, July 16, 2021.


Seven-Time Formula One World Champion, Sir Lewis Hamilton, and the Royal Academy of Engineering has published The Hamilton Commission report, Accelerating Change: Improving Representation of Black People in UK Motorsport.  

 

The Hamilton Commission has been in development since December 2019, but was publicly launched in June 2020, to coincide with the heightened media and public interest in the Black Lives Matter Movement and greater scrutiny of race inequality in society. The Commission, which conducted its research over a period of ten months, set out to identify the key barriers to the recruitment and progression of Black people in UK motorsport. 


The research specifically focused on engineering positions within the industry, as they represent a major group of occupations and offer the biggest opportunity for change. Now, through its report, the Commission has provided ten recommendations which aim to address the issues limiting Black students’ progression into engineering careers, as well as barriers within the motorsport industry.  

 

The report research, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, covered initial data analysis, stakeholder mapping, a literature review in sport, education and employment, as well as in-depth surveying and analysis with youth focus groups and key stakeholders. As a result of this detailed research, an evidence-based report has been crafted which includes chapters exploring Formula 1 and the UK motorsport sector, young Black people’s interest in engineering and motorsport,  and the attainment and progression of young Black students in STEM subjects at school, in post-16 education and in higher education leading to motorsport jobs. 


The Commission, which was co-Chaired by Lewis and Royal Academy of Engineering CEO, Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, also engaged a 14-strong Board of Commissioners from relevant fields including motorsport, politics, education and engineering, who have each helped to inform and shape the report and its findings.  

 

The Commission was launched in June 2020, as a result of Sir Lewis’ ambition to see more people like himself employed within the motorsport industry. Throughout his career as the only Black driver within Formula 1, Sir Lewis hoped that his success would inspire other diverse talent to pursue a career in motorsport. However, that hasn’t been the case, and when exploring the ways in which he could fund change in the industry, Sir Lewis discovered that very little was known about why the wealth of opportunities in the sport were not translating to more diversity. 


When reviewing the lack of representation within the end of season photo in 2019, Sir Lewis was spurred to take action and proactively change the industry himself. It was then that he engaged the Royal Academy of Engineering to conduct the necessary research into the barriers preventing Black talent from entering the industry and how these barriers could be addressed.  


Sir Lewis said: “Given the right opportunities and support, young people can excel at whatever they put their minds to, but our research shows that many young Black people are being closed out of opportunities within STEM, and having their full potential limited. While I have enjoyed a successful career in motorsport, it’s been a lonely path as one of the few Black individuals within Formula 1 and, after fifteen years of waiting for the industry to catch up, I realised I had to take action myself.”

 

The Commission’s research has focused on the talent pipeline for Black students entering motorsport via engineering, due to the specific challenges they face as a result of their race. 


These challenges are also reflective of Sir Lewis’ own experiences within school and the motorsport industry, and so he is personally driven to address them. Factors within wider society, some of which are systemic in nature, as well as practices within Formula 1 have been identified as contributing towards a situation in which only 1% employees in Formula 1 are from Black backgrounds. 


These factors include but are not limited to, hiiring practices within motorsport teams that favour students from a select group of high-ranking universities, which many of the existing engineers and recruiting managers also graduated from. There is also geographical factors, which mean opportunities for work experience at places such as Silverstone are too far to travel for students from Black communities in cities and other young people from low-income backgrounds. 


Among other factors identified by the Commission are lower expectations of Black students’ academic abilities leading to lower entries to STEM subjects, and the lack of Black role models in STEM teaching positions throughout a student’s educational career, including in higher education 

Sir Lewis pointed out that through the Commission’s research, one can see there are clear meaningful steps the motorsport industry needs to take towards creating a more inclusive environment where diversity can thrive but also that we must tackle the barriers facing Black students that exist throughout their educational journey. 

“Some of these barriers I recognise from my own experiences, but our findings have opened my eyes to just how far reaching these problems are,” he said. “Now that I’m armed with the Commission’s recommendations, I am personally committed to ensuring they are put into action. I’m so proud of our work to date, but this is really just the beginning.” 

 


Sir Lewis Hamilton Launches an Initiative to Bring More Black Britons into UK Motorsport

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