It’s pride month, and back at the start of June I had set out to write an article about how some teams in motorsport have been pushing the inclusion and diversity agenda in a more real, impactful way. That was until I got started on the research. The more I was reading, the less I was understanding. There has been a number of statements made by teams such as Aston Martin that support the LGBTQ+ community but now that the ”We Race As One” campain is over, what’s next?
Although it’s known that Sebastian Vettel is a champion of social justice – be it women’s rights, diversity, climate change or saving the bees – it can be a very different story to be just another employee within the team.
Last year, Racing Pride ambassador Krystina Emmanouilides(Alfa Romeo F1) gave an interview with ESPN discussing the issues of coming out in the F1 paddock. There is a real presence of people who simply aren’t ready to come out at work because of the environment. She mentions that people who perhaps have left F1 or motorsports altogether due to the discrimination they faced, and returned years later hoping things had changed only to find they had not.
Similarly, Aston Martin’s Chief Communications Officer Matt Bishop cites the very masculine and conservative environment as part of the reason why even people who have been in F1 a very long time still don’t feel comfortable coming out despite potentially being married to same sex partners and having built a family.
This is where the message of the team as a whole falls apart. It’s not unheard of company policies not matching the environment, or of individual staff members being head hunted by the higher ups before being discriminated against and bullied by colleagues in their department.
In recent years only Aston Martin has been building an inclusion policy by working with Racing Pride, and a friend informed me that as a very knowledgeable member of the LGBTQ+ community they had also been asked to consult but the reality is that most of this is happening behind closed doors.
So what would I personally want to see? What would satisfy me and demonstrate that work is being done?
F1 teams publish yearly their gender pay gap statistics, and the same way they are able to use demographic information about their employees to produce a gender pay gap, they could publish statistics regarding the diversity of their staff.
I want to see policies.
Written down, legally binding policies that protect minorities. I want these policies to have a procedure for reporting clearly defined, and I want there to always be a fail-safe.
I want a commitment to breaking biases and allowing for education of staff, to stop misunderstanding and misinformation that may lead to slurs; to see fair and just punishments for making others feel unsafe and unwelcome in the workplace.
It would be nice to this on every team’s website, not hidden in some deep drive somewhere in the HR department’s portal.
It is important, if not essential that when a team commits to its LGBTQ+ inclusive agenda, that there be the steps in place to ensure it happens throughout the team. With the work that Aston Martin have been putting in, this should all be achievable, and it gives a sense of hope and protection, offering an inclusive future to those who might have felt uncomfortable and excluded.