The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is calling on organisations across the region to think about the practical steps they can take to improve and promote inclusion.
With National Inclusion Week starting today (Monday), the WMCA is celebrating some of the work already making a difference in the region, and highlighting why inclusion makes good business sense, as well as ensuring that all communities have a better quality of life.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am determined that everyone across the West Midlands - irrespective of faith, ethnicity, gender, or disability - should have the opportunity to benefit from the region’s record growth.
“Diversity is one of the West Midlands’ key strengths – but many boardrooms are missing out on fresh talent and a better understanding of market opportunities and innovation due to a lack of inclusion.
“To help tackle this the WMCA introduced the Inclusive Leadership Pledge earlier this year, which encourages employers to show their commitment to try to make their leadership more representative of our region. This can be done by reviewing recruitment, establishing targeted mentoring schemes for colleagues and young people, or sharing their own best practice with other employers.”
Cllr Brigid Jones, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for inclusive communities, said: “Half of the West Midlands population are women, a third are from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds and a fifth have a disability. These groups are all significantly under-represented at the top of organisations.
“It’s really important that we challenge ourselves and other employers in the West Midlands to make sure people from all walks of life and all backgrounds can make it to the top.
“We’ve also just launched the Young Combined Authority (YCA), where 33 young people representing communities across the region will be coming together to decide on their priorities, independently challenging the WMCA Board on its policies and decisions.”
The Inclusive Leadership Pledge and the creation of the YCA are the result of a hard-hitting report – Leaders Like You – published last summer by the independent West Midlands Leadership Commission.
The report focused on the experiences of black and ethnic minority communities, women, the LGBT community, young people, disabled people and lower social economic groups such as white, working class boys.
As part of its commitment to inclusion, the WMCA has pledged to strive for 40% of its senior managers to be women within the next five years.
Businesses and organisations can sign the Inclusive Leadership Pledge online at: www.wmca.org.uk/inclusive-leadership-pledge
The WMCA is leading a number of other key initiatives to increase inclusion across the area. For example, Thrive at Work focuses on the importance of good mental health to improve workplace wellbeing, while Include Me WM aims to engage more disabled people in physical activity.