Region’s biggest employers pledge to rebalance boardrooms

Some of the region’s biggest employers have joined forces to pledge their support to tackle the lack of diversity at the top of major companies and public bodies.

Representatives from more than 60 businesses and organisations gathered in Birmingham for the launch of the Inclusive Leadership Pledge – an initiative aimed at rebalancing boardrooms.

The initiative is the result of a hard hitting report – Leaders Like You – published last summer by the independent West Midlands Leadership Commission, which focused on the experiences of black and ethnic minority communities, women, the LGBT community, disabled people and lower social economic groups such as white, working class boys.

Set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the Commission warned that the lack of diversity at leadership level risked damaging the region’s economy and wider society.
The report set out a number of recommendations, including a call for existing leaders to ensure diversity in their workplaces, identify talent and then mentor and coach that talent to produce future leaders.

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, who also chairs the WMCA, officially launched the Inclusive Leadership Pledge at the Wesleyan offices in Birmingham.

Businesses including SkyBlue Solutions, DLA Piper and Wesleyan made pledges, alongside the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

The WMCA is now aiming to get 1,000 businesses and organisations to sign up to the Pledge over the coming 12 months.

The authority has also pledged to strive for 40% of its senior management to be women within the next five years.

Street said: “Diversity is one of the key strengths of the West Midlands – but many boardrooms are missing out on fresh talent and alternative ways of looking at an increasingly globalised world.

“It’s not acceptable that sections of our society are not getting chance to help shape and influence at a leadership level: whether that’s because of existing business policies, or long-standing issues with self-confidence and self-worth among these communities.

“The Inclusive Leadership Pledge is a commitment from some of our biggest employers and organisations that they will actively seek to improve diversity in their leadership – whether by reviewing recruitment, improving staff support or sharing their own best practice with others.

“We want 1,000 local businesses and organisations to sign up to the pledge by the end of 2019 – and I’m pleased to say that the WMCA has pledged its commitment today.”