One of the most comprehensive pieces of research into attitudes towards race and inclusion in North East businesses has been launched.
The survey is being carried out on behalf of the Race, Ethnicity and Discrimination (RED) Commission, established by North East England Chamber of Commerce.
It will identify barriers and promote positive examples of good practices to encourage diversity and inclusion with the aim of helping companies achieve increased economic performance and profitability. The introduction of new talent and skills by encouraging diversity is known to have a beneficial overall impact on business and society.
The RED Commission is chaired by Nagma Ebanks-Beni, MBE (Prima Cheese). She said: “If we want our region to succeed within the changing social and economic landscape of our region, then we must encourage everyone to be able to reach their potential, regardless of the colour of their skin or religion. Existing research regularly shows the lack of opportunities available to Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals, as well as a distinct lack of career progression opportunities for people from these communities.
Since it was established in Autumn last year the RED Commission has set out a detailed programme of work to help identify, explore, and encourage inclusive and diverse workforces in the North East.
Its priorities are to gather data through the research, actively promote diversity and encourage more awareness of its benefits and how to tackle workplace discrimination.
The commission’s activities will also culminate in detailed guidance for businesses and organisations. This information will show how to proactively recruit and encourage development of people from different ethnic backgrounds for the combined economic and social benefit of individuals and businesses alike.
Nagma Ebanks-Beni MBE said: “We need our companies to reflect our society, at all levels, and currently that is not the case. There are very few entrepreneurs, board members or senior leaders who are from diverse backgrounds in terms of their race, religion and ethnicity. We are missing out on valuable talent and this commission is determined to ensure everyone can develop and progress in their career, no matter the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs”.
Amanda Adeola, Partner of Chamber member BHP Law said: “I encourage all North East business leaders to fill in this Commission’s survey so we can get a clear picture of what we can do, as a region, to encourage more diversity and inclusion, which will offer genuine opportunity to all.
“It is extremely important we look at our businesses and make sure they are aware of, and prepared to deliver, the support to all members of our society, no matter what their ethnicity or heritage may be. Everyone needs to feel welcome and valued in our business communities to be able to contribute positively.
“The results of the survey will be interesting and if there are challenges identified, we must commit to tackle these collectively for the combined benefit of our region. We see few people from different heritages represented within senior roles in the North East. I hope the findings help to identify why this is the case and what support people of all ethnicities really need to be able to really blaze a trail.”