Why racial equality is everyone’s battle and everyone’s business

Councillor Ian Ward reflects on the Council’s equality plan Everyone’s Battle Everyone’s Business, and how we need to work together to build a fairer city.

Last week, I spoke at an event hosted by the Birmingham Race Impact Group (BRIG) to mark Race Equality week. This provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on the journey that we have made here in Birmingham, the vital next steps in our collective quest for race equality and equity, and to reaffirm our shared commitment to keeping race on the agenda.

This was the third BRIG event that I have attended in the last year, and on each occasion I have been pleased to report progress in the implementation of Everyone’s Battle, Everyone’s Business (EBEB), which is the council’s plan to address long-standing inequalities, to ensure that as an organisation we better reflect the city.

The Council is making good progress in implementing the EBEB Action Plan, with recent steps including commissioning the Equal Group to undertake an independent review of HR, with a focus on race and intersectionality and producing a Positive Action Statement.

Crucially, we are starting to see progress on broader representation at senior levels across the organisation. Over the three-months to the end of November 2022 we saw an increase of 9% in the appointment of Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates to leadership roles, a 7% increase in shortlisted candidates and a 3% increase in longlisted candidates.

In addition, 91% of our interview panels were ethnically balanced, while they were all gender balanced.

I am encouraged by this progress, but I also know that this journey is far from over and that Birmingham City Council will not rest on its laurels. We must now continue to build on the progress that we have made and show through our actions that in order to truly serve the people of our city, the Council must reflect the people of our city.

This is not easy and often requires tough conversations and honest self-appraisal, and with the help of critical friends such as BRIG we will continue to have those tough conversations because there is no room for complacency.

In the past fortnight I have worked with Bishop Desmond Jaddoo to write to the Home Secretary urging her to reverse the decision to backtrack on key commitments made in the wake of the Windrush Scandal. Sadly many victims, including a number from Birmingham, died before receiving justice, and this latest setback is an insult to the Windrush migrants, their children and grandchildren.

Without vigilance and perseverance, the hard-fought victories can be reversed, and the ongoing mistreatment of the Windrush generation serves as a reminder that this journey is far from over.

Despite the progress made in many aspects of city life, long-standing inequalities still exist. We will be updating on our progress on EBEB in April and I am confident that this will show that we are making important progress, and we will continue to work to bring our city partners along with us on the same journey.

Because you don’t address inequality in isolation, you do so with collective and collaborative action. By working together I am optimistic that we will make Birmingham a truly anti-racist city.


This blog was posted on 17 February 2023.

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