17 March 2023
A plan to level up opportunities for residents regardless of their race, ethnicity, and heritage as the region becomes more ethnically diverse will be presented to the West Midlands Combined Authority Board today (17 March).
The five-year strategy is the first major piece of work by the West Midlands Race Equalities Taskforce since it was launched by Andy Street (pictured), Mayor of the West Midlands, and the WMCA Board, to look at the specific issues facing under-represented communities to ensure that everyone benefits from the success of the region.
The strategy will focus on helping people in racialised communities to access and benefit from better jobs, transport and housing, and tackle disparities in education, health, and criminal justice.
It will also aim to influence diversity among the leadership of organisations across the region to bring about lasting change.
The mayor, who is also WMCA chair, said: “There is sadly clear evidence to show race disparities make it more difficult for people right across our region to reach their full potential. That’s why addressing these inequalities is essential if we’re going to ensure equality of opportunity and truly level up.”
“This marks just the beginning of the task at hand as now we must work together to understand the specific issues facing different underrepresented communities and bring about tangible outcomes that will enable everyone to reach their full potential.”
The taskforce is made up of 30 senior leaders from different sectors, places, and communities.
It is led by independent chair Yetunde Dania, a practicing lawyer, partner, and head of the Birmingham office at international law firm Trowers & Hamlins LLP, and vocal advocate for diversity and inclusion.
Yetunde Dania said: “Race, ethnicity and heritage should not prevent people from fulfilling their potential. However, this is the stark reality for many and that is why the taskforce exists. Our ambition is to make the West Midlands a national leader in addressing race inequality and we know that we cannot do this alone.
“This strategy is our call to action for every leader, business, public body, voluntary organisation and community.
“We want to hear about how you are already making positive changes and working together to find new ways to address persistent issues to eradicate racial inequalities.
“And, although tackling systemic racism will be a regional effort, everyone, whether they are in a position of power or not, has a responsibility to take action to drive lasting change for the better."
Recently published data in the UK 2021 Census shows of the 2.9 million people who live in the West Midlands metropolitan area, around 1.3 million (45 per cent) did not identify as being from a White British background. This is a significant increase from the 34 per cent recorded in the Census a decade before.
Click here to find out more about the West Midlands Race Equalities Taskforce.