AFBE-UK Chair joins the Hamilton Commission
24 September 2020 Dr Nike Folayan

Six-Time Formula OneTM World Champion, Lewis Hamilton MBE and the Royal Academy of Engineering today announced the Board of Commissioners for The Hamilton Commission, a research project that will work to identify the key barriers to recruitment and progression of Black people in UK motorsport, and provide actionable recommendations to overcome them.

The Hamilton Commission will be co-chaired by Lewis Hamilton MBE and Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering. The Board of Commissioners is an independent group made up of 13 experts and industry leaders from within the UK who represent a range of perspectives on the challenge. The Commissioners have been specially selected to represent a wide range of expertise spanning critical areas of influence including motorsport, engineering, schools, colleges and universities, community / youth groups, as well as major UK political parties.

Each of the Commissioners will bring valuable expertise, knowledge and experience from their respective fields to The Hamilton Commission. Their responsibilities will be to review and inform the research methodology; to examine the research findings and help identify the key challenges and opportunities facing young Black people entering STEM careers, particularly in UK motorsport; and to advise on the final actions and recommendations that result from the research. Following engagement and consultation with motorsport communities within the UK, the final evidence and recommendations will be published and taken directly to key stakeholders who can help implement change. Commissioners will also support this effort by applying their personal influence to champion the insights and recommendations from the project.

The Board of Commissioners for The Hamilton Commission include: KAREN CHOUHAN, Lead Equality Officer with a specialism in race policy for the National Education Union; JEREMY CROOK OBE, Chief Executive of the Black Training and Enterprise Group; TRACEY CROUCH MP, British Conservative Party politician; DR NIKE FOLAYAN MBE, Co-founder and Chair of the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers, AFBE-UK; PROFESSOR ALICE GAST FREng, President of Imperial College London; MARK HAMLIN, Chair of Project 44; DR ZUBAIDA HAQUE, Former Interim Director of the Runnymede Trust; ANNE-MARIE IMAFIDON MBE, Co-founder of Stemettes and keynote speaker on innovation and diversity in Science, Tech, Engineering and Maths; GEORGE IMAFIDON, Co-Founder and Director, Motivez; GLEN LAMBERT, Head of School of Construction, Science and Engineering at College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London; PROFESSOR DAVID MBA, Pro-Vice Chancellor Research and Enterprise, and Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Media at De Montfort University; IZZY OBENG, Non-Executive Director for Capital Enterprise and Managing Director at Foundervine; CHI ONWURAH MP, British Member of Parliament representing Newcastle upon Tyne Central and also Shadow Minister Digital, Science & Technology and MARTIN WHITMARSH, Former CEO of the McLaren Formula One Team, Member of the Global Advisory Board of Formula E, Chair of the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership Limited and Chairman of BAR Technologies Limited.

Lewis Hamilton said: “Since I began my professional racing career in Formula One, 14 years ago, I was the first driver of colour and to this day, sadly that is still the case. However, what is more concerning is that there are still very few people of colour across the sport as a whole. In F1, our teams are much bigger than the athletes that front them, but representation is insufficient across every skill set – from the garage to the engineers in the factories and design departments. Change isn’t coming quickly enough, and we need to know why. This is why I wanted to set up the Commission and I’m proud to be working with the Royal Academy of Engineering and our incredible Board of Commissioners to identify the barriers facing young Black people to take up STEM careers in motorsport. We are dedicated to this cause and together, we will make a change.”

Dr Nike Folayan MBE said: “On behalf of AFBE-UK I am really delighted and honoured to be joining this commission of esteemed individuals. At AFBE-UK this is something we have been passionate about for over 13 years since we launched. Even more delighted to see other AFBE-UK advisory board members including Prof David Mba and Chi Onwurah MP as commissioners. We hope we can make an impact and really support actionable outcomes that this commission will deliver. We commend Lewis Hamilton for his proactive approach to change."

Commission Co-Chair Dr Hayaatun Sillem said: “At the Royal Academy of Engineering, one of our priorities is to ensure that the UK has a world-leading and truly inclusive engineering workforce, something that we can only achieve if we boost the numbers and diversity of those choosing engineering careers. This is why we are so delighted to be partnering with Lewis in establishing The Hamilton Commission to improve the representation of Black people in UK motorsport. I was honoured to be asked to co-chair with Lewis our wonderful Board of Commissioners, who have each been carefully selected based on their experience, expertise and commitment to tackling racial injustice. This is a truly unique opportunity to drive transformational change on this crucial issue, and in the process to learn more about how we can enrich diversity in other parts of engineering and society.”

The first meeting of the Board of Commissioners took place earlier this month, where the Commissioners shared their initial insights and thoughts on the research plan with Lewis and Hayaatun. The Board will meet quarterly to discuss and inform the latest Commission research and explore how the Commissioners can advance agreed upon recommendations through their networks.

The Hamilton Commission will undertake a range of activities to help inform the research findings. These activities will include an 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. At the end of the research project, The Hamilton Commission will aim to deliver recommendations about inclusive recruitment and progression practices that will benefit young Black people wishing to work in the sector in the UK, and perhaps internationally too, should the actions be replicable.

The Hamilton Commission has been in development since December 2019 but 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 will run for nine months and officially began on September 1st, 2020.

Further details can be found on the Hamilton Commission website.