The Hamilton Commission looks to improve the representation of Black people in UK motorsport

Sep 22, 2021

The Royal Academy of Engineering with Sir Lewis Hamilton HonFREng have published the Hamilton Commission research report – Accelerating Change: Improving Representation of Black People in UK Motorsport.

The seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton first launched the new research partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering in June 2020 with the aim of changing the world of motorsport forever.

The issues affecting representation

Lewis Hamilton was motivated to make a difference after looking at an end-of-season photo in 2019 when he noticed the lack of representation. Less than 1% of the people in motorsport come from Black backgrounds.

After 10 months of research, the Commission discovered that wider issues in our society were affecting Black students’ opportunities within engineering, as well as specific barriers within the motorsport industry.

These issues include but are not limited to:

  • Hiring practices within motorsport teams that favour students from a select group of high-ranking universities
  • Geographical factors, which mean opportunities for work experiences at places such as Silverstone are too far for students from Black communities in cities and other young people from low-income backgrounds
  • Lower expectations of Black students’ academic abilities leading to lower entries to STEM subjects
  • Behaviour management practices in schools that disproportionately affect Black students
  • The lack of Black role models in STEM teaching positions throughout a student’s educational career
  • A lack of understanding among young people of the careers that studying engineering can lead to

How EngineeringUK has contributed to the Commission

EngineeringUK has previously highlighted that the lack of exposure to engineering and engineering careers via school which is a significant barrier to young people.

The Hamilton Commission features a section of the EngineeringUK report which highlights “the impact of a digital divide exacerbated by Covid-19, with a lack of technology or internet access acting as a significant barrier for many disadvantaged students; this disproportionately affects Black students, with almost 50% living in poverty”.

Furthermore, the Commission places a focus on Tomorrow’s Engineers Code which has been established with the support of employers and the Department for Education.

The Code encourages employers and activity providers to:

  • Ensure programmes contribute to a sustained and rich STEM journey for all young people
  • Ensure all young people have opportunities to engage in engineering-inspiration activities, so no one is left behind
  • Promote a positive, compelling and authentic view of engineering, and showcase the breadth of opportunities
  • Improve the monitoring and evaluation of programmes and activities to develop a shared understanding of what works

The Code is managed by us at EngineeringUK, and we have established a new online platform for teachers called Neon which links STEM activity providers and engineering employers with schools to address the lack of STEM engagement coverage across the UK.

Alongside the Hamilton Commission, EngineeringUK has been making positive steps in the direction of creating a diverse and inclusive future for engineering.

The recommendations

The Hamilton Commission has identified 10 recommendations it believes will have a long-lasting and positive impact on the motorsport industry.

They include:

  • Asking Formula 1 teams and other motorsport organisations to take the lead in implementing a Diversity and Inclusion Charter for motorsport
  • Recommending Formula 1 teams and motorsport businesses to broaden access to motorsport by expanding the apprenticeships and work experience available in the sector
  • Calling on the Department for Education, and other bodies holding education data, to increase the number of Black teachers in STEM subjects
  • Creating a new exclusion innovation fund to develop programmes to reduce the proportion of students from Black backgrounds being excluded from schools
  • Launching scholarship programmes to help Black graduates with degrees in engineering to progress into motorsport roles

For further information visit the Hamilton Commission smart article and the full report.


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