A city’s greatest asset is its people and one of Bristol's greatest strengths is our diversity. The melting pot of language, culture, skills and experiences makes us a centre for creative thought and action. While that diversity is celebrated we are acutely aware of the significant inequalities that ethnic minority communities continue to face - inequalities that restrict their education and employment opportunities.
Since coming into office in 2016 we have sought to work with our city partners to tackle race inequality and are making great strides towards improving opportunities for BAME communities. We have engaged with the government’s Race Disparity Unit to develop the tools required to understand the diversity in Bristol’s public sector. Using the national Race Disparity Audit framework we have been able to map diversity across partners in the police, health, universities and local authority. This benchmark, published last year, now provides a basis from which all agencies can work from to identify and tackle their own and our collective challenges.
This approach was showcased at the recent national Race Equality Conference held in Bristol where delegates from across the country joined to contribute to a cross-sector conversation about the challenges BAME communities continue to face and the successful practices that have been established to meet these.
While our use of data and analysis is providing the business case for organisations to take action, we have forged ahead with initiatives to begin delivering real change to BAME communities. Our award winning Stepping Up programme is already into its second cycle and, with the support of local cross-sector organisations, is developing a diverse talent pipeline that will transform Bristol’s leadership makeup within a generation. This programme as already inspired another programme (Horumar Community programme) aimed at providing training, mentoring, CV support, interviews and networking for Somali women – one of the most underrepresented groups in management positions.
We are also approaching the first anniversary of launching our city’s first Equality Charter which commits signatory organisations to promote the values of equality, diversity and inclusion. The charter has been co-produced with input from private, public and voluntary sector organisations and has led to the formation of the Bristol Equality Network, a group set up to support organisations to meet the commitments of the charter and support the sharing of information and good practice.
Tackling race inequality is not only the moral thing to do but it makes good economic sense too. Unlocking a city or an organisation’s full potential brings countless benefits to all, but it can only be done by working collaboratively. Whilst we remain focussed on meeting the challenges we face to unlock Bristol’s potential we are also looking outward to elsewhere in the public sector to offer our support to those seeking to identify and tackle their own challenges. Our Race Equality Strategic Leaders Group is open to hearing from organisations across the country looking to better understand their own position and learn more about the tools we are developing.
Cllr Asher Craig is deputy mayor for communities at Bristol City Council