New chair for West Midlands Race Equalities Taskforce
Published: Wednesday 09 Aug 2023
A new chair has been appointed to lead the West Midlands Race Equalities Taskforce.
Sharonjit Clare has taken over the key role from Yetunde Dania, who has led the taskforce to the publication of its first five-year strategy which aims to ensure local people have the same opportunities regardless of their race, ethnicity, and heritage.
The independent taskforce was set up by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board to look at specific issues facing under-represented communities to ensure that everyone benefits from the success of the region.
Sharonjit - born and raised in the West Midlands - has a professional background in financial services. Her powerful advocacy for equality and inclusion has seen her become a key influencer in the region - addressing a number of areas of WMCA work including economic policy and improving women's safety as co-chair of West Midlands Women's Voice.
She has worked with national bodies like the UK Cabinet Office on diversity in public appointments and honours - developing a formidable reputation for being constructive yet persistently insistent in inspiring, demanding and mobilising action.
Sharonjit said: “Today, almost half of the region’s population may experience race inequality in their daily lives. This is 1.3 million people, which means addressing race inequality is not a minority issue.
"I am focused on action that can build on the fantastic foundations the taskforce has laid with its strategy. My call to local people and those in power is to work with us to bring forward tangible activity that makes a difference to people’s lives and truly harnesses all talent. This is about meritocracy not bureaucracy.“
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Our region is one of the most ethnically diverse in the UK - indeed in the world. We must ensure race is not a barrier to opportunity for our communities - not just because it’s the right thing to do but also because it’s essential if we’re to fully realise our vision for a more prosperous, healthier, and inclusive West Midlands. That’s why I set up the taskforce.
“Yetunde has done a tremendous job of leading the delivery of the first phase of the strategy and I’m committed to working with Sharonjit and the rest of the taskforce to bring about tangible change that positively impacts the lives of local people.
“I look forward to working closely with Sharonjit to drive this agenda forward. I have no doubt she will bring her considerable policy and professional services experience to bear as we focus on this important mission.”
Yetunde, a partner at international law firm Trowers & Hamlins LLP, said: “I am immensely proud to have led this important taskforce and I'm also proud of the work the taskforce members have undertaken. We've all worked hard since the taskforce's inception, it is now in a position of strength and has a solid strategy for achieving positive change across the West Midlands over the next five years.
“Tackling systemic racism is the responsibility of all of us, and everyone has the opportunity to take conscious action to help consign this type of racism to the history books. I am proud of the role the taskforce plays in helping achieve that and I look forward to continuing to support members going forward, under Sharonjit's leadership.”
The West Midlands is one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse regions with around 1.3 million (45 per cent) of residents not identifying as being from a White British background.
In March, the taskforce published its strategy, titled Race Forward, to guide the work of the WMCA and its partners to ensure people in racialised communities can access and benefit from better jobs, transport, and housing.
It also aims to tackle disparities in education, health, and criminal justice, and influence diversity among the leadership of local organisations to bring about lasting change.
Under the new chair, the taskforce is now embarking on its delivery phase with a Members' Advisory Group now set up to guide the taskforce as it looks to connect with communities, advocate for local priorities, navigate potential challenges and add value to the activity already underway across the West Midlands.
The advisory group is made up of local political leaders with a responsibility for equalities in their own authorities, and is chaired by Cllr Kerrie Carmichael, the WMCA’s portfolio lead for inclusive communities, and leader of Sandwell Council.
Cllr Carmichael said: “The Race Equalities Taskforce is a bold but necessary initiative for the West Midlands. With a new chair and a clear strategy in place, we are committed to taking a stand against the inequalities and injustice that make life more difficult for many, including those who experience race disparities.”
For more information about the West Midlands Race Equalities Taskforce or to support its work email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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