PA Consulting to help the Ocean Race get gender balance

03 June 2022 2 min. read
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The Ocean Race is aiming to hold a gender-balanced event by 2030. To achieve this, the organisation has engaged a coalition of entities, including business advisory PA Consulting.

The Ocean Race is a yacht race around the world, held every three or four years since 1973. Though the route changes to accommodate various ports of call, the race typically departs Europe in October, and in recent editions has had either 9 or 10 legs, with in-port races at many of the stopover cities.

The event is already a leading event for supporting women in sailing, with more women competing in the event than in any other sailing competition outside of the Olympics. To date, 136 women have competed in the race, including 12 in the first edition. In the 2017-18 edition of the race new rules were introduced that gave teams a major incentive to include women as well as men, a policy that will continue in the 2022-23 race and will see women participate with a meaningful role on every team.

PA Consulting to help the Ocean Race get gender balance

Beyond that, the Ocean Race is looking to ramp up its efforts for equality even further, though. The Ocean Race aims for equal number of male and female sailors in the event by 2030 – whether this is achieved through mixed crews or all-female teams.

Dee Caffari was the first woman to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions, and has been a two-time competitor of The Ocean Race. Now the Chair of the World Sailing Trust, she noted that as sailors “naturally trust the people we are used to sailing with,” it can be difficult for women to “break into a team.” Changing this will take “leading events in our sport, such as the Ocean Race, to continue to turn the equality dial.”

Helming the project for change is an unparalleled collaboration between sailing, leading sustainability, and diversity organisations. Under the banner of the Magenta Project, the Ocean Race, World Sailing Trust, The Magenta Project and PA Consulting will now build on existing initiatives and introduces new pathways to open up sailing to women and young people.

Jonquil Hackenberg, Head of Sustainability at PA Consulting and Chair of the Magenta Project said, “Sailing is one of the least diverse sports and this needs to change. This collaboration is a vital step towards that and has the potential to alter the face of sailing forever and make it a sport that others can turn to and learn from. The power of this collaboration is that it brings strengths to the fore, where strengths do not need to be physical.”

The Magenta Project will look to bring actionable pathways for aspiring ocean racers, the initiatives focus on the entire ecosystem of the sport. This includes a fast-track leadership programme to create a pipeline of female leaders across the sport, and producing an equality design working group, made up of boat designers, manufacturers, technical specialists and female sailors. PA Consulting specifically will create an equality assessment tool to help the sailing industry measure where they are now and where they can improve, along with a series of roundtables to track progress across the industry.