City Hall has played host to a seminar on the issues faced by businesses in developing Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) talent and support a government plan to increase BME employment by 20 per cent.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, and Baroness McGregor-Smith were joined by representatives of the city’s public, private and third party sectors to hear why they think BME individuals don’t progress in their careers the same way as their white counterparts.
The Baroness has been asked by Said Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to lead an independent review to look at the obstacles faced by BME individuals when trying to progress at work. The views, experiences and insights shared by Bristol businesses at this meeting will inform the review and its findings.
Earlier this year the Secretary of State held a meeting of a new ministerial taskforce to call on ministers and business to engage with the Baroness’ review. Bristol responded by inviting the Baroness to visit the city to discuss her review and hear the thoughts and experiences of local sector leaders.
The review’s findings will be presented to the Secretary of State later this year and be used as a central piece of research for the Government’s BME2020 plan – a vision for increasing BME employment by 20 per cent over the next four years.
Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions released in March 2016 showed that the annual rate of BME employment was 62 per cent whilst the White employment rate was 75 per cent.
Bristol has a diverse population with one in five residents and one in three schoolchildren from a Black or Minority Ethnic background. BME unemployment in the city stands at almost 8 per cent compared to White unemployment of just over 4 per cent. The city’s rate of young BME people not in employment, education or training (NEET’s) has steadily decreased over the past seven years to just below 12 per cent however, this remains six per cent above their White counterparts.
The Baroness said:
“It’s important that our labour market is accessible to everybody and that we remove the barriers that have restricted BME talent for so long, and this review will identify how we can do that.
“I am pleased that Bristol, a city with such a diverse population, has answered my call and invited me to engage with local businesses, charities and public bodies. If we are to deliver the long-term economic benefits of the Government’s BME2020 plan then it is essential that we hear the views and experiences of employers themselves.”
Bristol is also looking to learn from this meeting, being called Inclusive not Exclusive. Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said:
“Despite Bristol being one of the UK’s most prosperous cities, the benefits of the strong local economy are not felt by all. I am as eager as the Baroness to hear the views of local employers on what they think are the barriers to developing BME talent and skills so I and other city leaders can work together to tear down those obstacles.
“My priority is to make Bristol a more equal and inclusive city where everyone benefits and can contribute to the city’s success. To do this and to ensure that no-one is left behind I will continue to work with partners to make Bristol a place where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential irrespective of their background. We are already making progress through our Learning City Partnership, which has established a Race Equality in Education Steering Group with the aim of raising BME achievement in schools and reducing the numbers of young people not in employment, education or training.”