Let's talk about the tricky issues

By Jo Miller | 06 December 2016

How do we all live better and live better together? Through inclusive economic growth that all local communities can enjoy and by educating and empowering women.

We must talk about the tricky issues, otherwise that space is given over to those on the far ends of the extremism spectrum – and it’s our job as public leaders to know our places and people well and do the right thing.

Here are my initial takeaways on Dame Louise Casey’s welcome report on opportunity and integration...

I live in a diverse, culturally rich city and our family life is better for the breadth of diversity we experience. But that’s not how it is for everyone here and it’s a fact that in this day and age some women (and men) are not free to live as they would live, vote as they would vote and love as they would love.

I know because I’ve met those women. By not talking about these issues we make problems worse, enabling regressive practice to become embedded and division enhanced. We need to call poor practice out, not tacitly condone it. We must all support the many women – and some men – who are taking on vested interests and arcane attitudes in some of our communities. Because equality trumps cultural sensitivity every time.

Of course, for every example of poor practice in the Casey report, I can show you brilliance because I know those women too. They tell me that in our leadership positions we must not make exceptions for people who’ve never asked for them and often wouldn’t thank us for it – like suggesting the changing of GCSE timetables to accommodate Ramadan in the name of improving educational attainment (to name but one).

The Casey review team has travelled the length and breadth of our country and the issues detailed reflect my experience in this city. We must use the report’s findings to all live better and live better together with no one left behind. If we believe in equality and rights of women then we must make sure we really mean it, even when it’s difficult. If we ignore growing divisions we will breed fear and isolation.

We all have our part to play – what are you doing?

Jo Miller is chief executive of Doncaster MBC

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