Leading business figures recruited to diversity taskforce
Business figures from across the West Midlands are being recruited to a new taskforce tackling diversity across the region.
The body is being established to help people from under-represented parts of society make it to the top of the career ladder.
The West Midlands Leadership Commission, which will be chaired by Anita Bhalla, will include more than 20 successful people from the worlds of business, the arts, health and public services who personally understand the issues of under-representation.
The Commission, which has been set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), will reach out into communities and institutions to give a voice to views and ideas from people across the region.
The combined authority has asked the Commission to look at ways to improve opportunities for women and people from groups such as black and minority ethnic (BME), the LGBT community, disabled people and lower social economic groups such as white working-class boys.
Ms Bhalla, who is chair of Performances Birmingham Ltd (Town Hall and Symphony Hall), said: “Under-representation at leadership level limits aspiration and leads to disaffection and feelings of isolation and that’s probably felt even more keenly in such a wonderfully diverse area like the West Midlands.
“We know that change will not happen overnight but we intend to be an action orientated commission, one that gets out into the real world to talk to people and organisations about their first hand experiences.
“We will then use that information and other expert research to draw up actions that can help create an environment where future leaders can be nurtured and supported.”
The launch of the Commission follows a pledge by the Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, Andy Street, to explore what lies behind under-representation at leadership level and take appropriate action to tackle it.
Mr Street said: “This lack of representation at leadership level needs to be addressed so that the people who have a significant influence on the West Midlands properly reflect its society.
“We are a diverse region but to truly thrive in the 21st century we need to make the most of the exceptional talent and potential we have in all of our different communities.”
Cllr Steve Eling, WMCA lead for cohesion and integration and leader of Sandwell Council, added: “Inclusivity in the working of the combined authority has to go far further than just the leaders of the councils.
“We should be actively engaging with a much broader range of councillors from member authorities, in relation to the functions and promotion of what we are taking forward.”
A key task of the Commission will be to draw up a strategy and action plan to tackle leadership under-representation in the West Midlands.
Early actions to be explored include:
- The promotion of name-blind recruitment by West Midlands companies where the name of a job applicant is not revealed to those assessing the candidate
- Encouraging applications from under-represented groups for leadership positions such as magistrates, Justices of the Peace, deputy lieutenants, school governors and non-executive NHS chairs and directors
- A cross-party campaign to increase representation amongst political candidates for local elections
- Targeted employment initiatives for under-represented groups
Birmingham City University, Warwick University and Wolverhampton University will be providing the Commission with research facilities with work headed up by Professor Jenny Phillimore of Birmingham University, who is director of the Institute for Research into Superdiversity.
The West Midlands Leadership Commission is made up of the following commissioners;
|Chair: Anita Bhalla OBE|
|Davinder Prasad||BOPA, Coventry|
|Sunder Katwala||British Future|
|Sarah Jane Marsh||Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital|
|Bas Javid||Commander, Solihull Police|
|Shaz Manir||Amirah Foundation|
|Lawrence Barton||Birmingham Pride|
|Bishop Derek Webley||Gangs and Violence Commission, DL|
|Jenny Phillimore||Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS), University of Birmingham|
|Rosie Ginday||Miss Macaroon|
|Professor Kiran Trehan||Department of Management, University of Birmingham|
|Suzy Verma||Head of Public Sector & Higher Education HSBC|
|Dorian Chan||Wing Wah Group|
|Christina Michalos||Barrister, Trustee at Birmingham Children’s Hospital|
|Professor David Roberts||Birmingham City University School of English|
|Johur Uddin||Community Connect Foundation, Sandwell|
|Jackie Dunne||University of Wolverhampton|