Racing Home: Supporting an open dialogue

Fri, 10 Jul, 2020

Kindred is proud to support the Women in Racing (WiR) programme Racing Home, delivered in collaboration with Simply Racing and Oxford Brookes University. The aim of the programme is to raise awareness of the challenges working mothers face when returning to work and highlight the impact having children can have on work/life balance. The programme includes workshops and webinars to gather experience and insights, as well as a piece of academic research to capture data and make recommendations to the industry.  

We have spoken to Dominique Tortice, Project Assistant at the National Association of Racing Staff and a member of the committee of Women in Racing. Dominique is raising two children, has played a big part in the programme and we are delighted to hear more about her experience.  

Dominique, tell us about yourself and your involvement in the Racing Industry? 

I have been involved in the Racing Industry for the last 17 years. For the first 15, I worked at the grassroots level of racing. I’ve had a wide range of roles in the industry but always with the equine stars of racing, until two years ago when I took on the role of project assistant at The National Association of Racing Staff. I continue to ride out regularly and as much as I can for a local trainer.

Even when I found myself as a single mother to two very young boys, working with racehorses was not something I was willing to give up. That being said, it has proven very difficult to juggle being a single mother and working in racing, more difficult than it perhaps should be!  

How and why did you get involved with the work of Women in Racing? 

I attended the Racing Home symposium in London last winter to get some insight into what the project was about. Having worked in the industry for such a long time (a large portion of it as a single parent), I was curious to see if the grassroots level of racing was represented and if so how accurate that representation was.  

Being a parent in the industry can be incredibly difficult and not everyone is entirely sympathetic towards your personal circumstances. I have experienced some very unsavoury behaviour in the workplace since becoming a mother and because of this, I was keen to get involved in the project.  

I wanted to share my journey and experiences in the hope that it would raise awareness of just how difficult it can be pursuing a career in the industry and having a family.  

What do you think the benefits of the Racing Home project are and why is there a need for it? 

I think a programme like this will be extremely valuable to the industry. Racing industry needs to learn to cater to all of its staff. I hope that it will open the eyes of the employers within racing to make some changes to their workplace protocols and procedures for their employees with children and those who are returning to work after maternity leave.  

I hope that through this project and the information collected, it will shine a light on how difficult it can be to juggle children and working at the grassroots level of the horseracing industry. I hope the conclusion of the project educates the industry on that there is much to be changed to make working in horseracing inclusive to all. 

What do you hope the outcome of this programme will be? 

My hopes for this programme are that it will spread awareness of how challenging it is to work in the horseracing industry as a parent. That the many outdated practises and attitudes towards parents will cease to exist and that the industry as a whole will be more accepting of each individual's circumstances. 

In recent years more and more young women are choosing to join the horseracing industry and I feel that it is so important to educate and empower them; there is the possibility of having a family and a career in racing and as an industry, we should be making that possible. 

What are the reactions you were met with when talking about the programme? 

I feel that the reactions from the staff at the grassroots level have been incredibly positive, from both males and females. Many parents working in the equine sector feel that it’s time to address this subject and that the Racing Home initiative has done just that. It has opened dialogues that are not always welcome in the workplace and that can only be a positive thing. 

What would you like to say to younger women in racing and why should they be a part of this programme? 

At a time when the majority of staff working in Horseracing in the UK are young women and considering the current staffing issue the industry faces, there is no better time for this conversation to be had. The reality is that if any of these young women decide to have a family at some point in their career, they may not come back to it because of the difficulties faced by parents in the workplace. There is no better time to open that dialogue and start to make changes that will benefit everyone.