Bristol is set to host its first national race equality conference with leaders from across government, public and private sectors gathering to celebrate the progress made in tackling racial inequality and discuss how remaining challenges can be overcome.
Organised by Bristol City Council, Bristol Festival of Ideas, Bristol One City Office and the Cabinet Office’s Race Disparity Unit, tomorrow's conference (Friday, October 18) will showcase many examples of successful cross-sector practices that have been established.
It will also focus on those most persistent challenges that remain - challenges which continue to prevent many people from diverse ethnic or social backgrounds from achieving their full potential.
As part of this focus, delegates will hear about one of the keys that Bristol City Council itself has been using to unlock and release local talent – data and analysis. Inspired by Government’s world-first Race Disparity Audit (RDA), launched two years ago, Bristol is the first city in the country to use its national framework to develop an award-winning tool that collects and analyses local data to diversify the city’s own public sector workforces.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “A city’s greatest assets are its people and one of Bristol's greatest strengths is its diversity. Our melting pot of language, culture, skills and experiences make us a centre for creative thought and action. While that diversity is celebrated, our version of the RDA also highlights the significant inequalities that ethnic minority communities continue to face - inequalities that restrict their education and employment opportunities.
“Tackling this is not only the moral thing to do but it makes good economic sense too. Unlocking the city’s full potential would bring countless benefits to all, but it can only be done by working together, across sectors, and at all levels.
“We’ve laid solid foundations in Bristol upon which to build lasting legacies for all communities to benefit from. From bringing on diverse talents through ‘Stepping Up’ to establishing one clear city commitment to an equality charter, and using data to go back to basics to better understand the challenge we face – we are a city forging ahead and want to work with others to craft concrete ideas to deliver tangible change.”
Minister for the Cabinet Office Oliver Dowden said: “I am delighted that the Race Equality Conference is highlighting the huge steps being taken to balance out racial and social inequalities.
“The Government’s Race Disparity Audit celebrates its second anniversary this week and it is fantastic to see Bristol City Council taking the same methods and applying them successfully at a local level.”
Hosted in a city steeped in the history of Britain’s own civil rights movement, the conference will also reflect on Black History Month and pay tribute to Bristol’s own struggle to secure racial and social justice for all. As part of this, the Race Disparity Audit’s Advisory Group will honour Dr Paul Stephenson OBE with their national Award for Outstanding Contribution to Equalities. Chosen for the decades he has spent dedicated to civil rights - including the Bristol Bus Boycott - the award will be presented to him by the Advisory Group’s chairman, Sir Simon Woolley.
RDA Advisory Group Chairman Sir Simon Woolley said: “Paul Stephenson OBE has been one of the leading lights of Britain’s own civil rights movement. His work has not only been instrumental in securing the UK’s first ever legislation to protect the rights of its ethnic minority citizens – the Race Relations Act 1965 – but in building on that foundation through subsequent laws passed.
“He has been an inspiration for generations since, following in his footsteps in the pursuit of racial and social equality for all. It is vital work which continues to be much needed, as the Race Disparity Audit demonstrates.
“We are delighted to recognise and honour Paul with the RDA Advisory Group’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Equalities, and to be able to celebrate this with him right here in Bristol where he achieved perhaps his greatest victory of all.''