Employers in Coventry are being urged to help tackle a lack of diversity in the boardrooms of major companies and public bodies in the city.
The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street is calling on business leaders to sign the Inclusive Leadership Pledge and make a commitment to tackle inequality, boost diversity and embed inclusivity into their organisations.
The Inclusive Leadership Pledge will be launched in Coventry at a business breakfast event on Tuesday 25 June from 8am to 10am at Coventry City Council's Offices at One Friargate.
Leaders of the future? Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street (left) with chair of the Leadership Commission Anita Bhalla OBE (centre) and young pupils at the launch of the Leaders Like You report
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, who also chairs the WMCA, said: “I know from my time as CEO of John Lewis how important diversity can be to a boardroom. And while diversity is one of the key strengths of the West Midlands region, many of our boardrooms could be missing fresh talent, purely because, consciously or subconsciously, they are ignoring a more diverse range of candidates for leadership roles.
“It’s not acceptable that some sections of our society are not getting chance to help shape and influence at a leadership level. The Inclusive Leadership Pledge is a commitment from employers and organisations in the West Midlands that they will actively seek to improve diversity in their leadership – whether by reviewing recruitment, improving staff support or sharing their own best practice with others.
“I’d encourage all businesses in Coventry to attend the launch event and sign up to the Pledge as soon as they can and underline their commitment to do more to ensure a range of diverse voices can be heard in senior positions in the region.”
The WMCA has already pledged to strive for 40% of its senior management to be women within the next five years.
Coventry City Council, the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the University of Warwick will all announce their pledges at the launch event in Coventry.
Councillor Pervez Akhtar, deputy cabinet member at Coventry City Council, said: “The Inclusive Leadership Pledge provides an opportunity to bring us all together and understand how we can drive change in our organisations. At Coventry City Council, we are committed to recognising and celebrating diversity and ensuring equality of opportunity both as a provider and commissioner of services and as a large employer.
“I would like see as many businesses in Coventry present at the launch so we can all work together to find out what’s important to our communities and so they can each sign up to the pledge to show their commitment to ensuring we develop a leadership culture that embeds the effective management of equality, diversity and inclusion in our day-to-day practices, policies, procedures, and through our external relationships.”
Sarah Windrum, a board director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), said: “We fully support this initiative to encourage greater diversity in boardrooms because it is important all groups within society are represented to help shape the future of their organisations.
“We know there is still work to be done to address imbalances at senior decision-making level but this Pledge is an opportunity to inspire the next generation of board directors and we hope as many businesses and organisations in Coventry and Warwickshire will grasp the opportunity as possible.”
Professor Chris Ennew, Provost at University of Warwick, said: “University of Warwick welcomes the WMCA’s leadership pledge to improve diversity at senior level and we are pleased to be co-hosting the event in Coventry.
“Greater diversity at senior levels brings huge benefits to everyone and we recognise how important that is in our role as an employer in the region. Our pledges reflect our commitment to make this a reality.”
The Inclusive Leadership Pledge was borne out of a hard-hitting report – Leaders Like You – published last summer by the independent West Midlands Leadership Commission, set up by Mayor Andy Street.
One of the report recommendations was for businesses to work together to consider ways to diversify boardrooms: the business working groups set up to consider this made the suggestion to launch the Inclusive Leadership Pledge.
Businesses and organisations can get more information and sign the Pledge online at: www.wmca.org.uk/inclusive-leadership-pledge
To book a space for the Coventry launch event on 25 June, visit https://tinyurl.com/y3jhko8e