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Race Equalities Taskforce created

A new regional Race Equalities Taskforce is being set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The Taskforce will be led independent chair Yetunde Dania, who is partner and Birmingham head of office at international law firm Trowers & Hamlins. This marks a significant step forward in the establishment of the Taskforce, with membership applications also launched.

Yetunde said: “I am hugely excited to have been chosen to lead the region’s Race Equalities Taskforce. The principles of equal opportunities and enabling everyone to reach their full potential are incredibly important to me in both my personal and professional life. 

"I am looking forward to driving forward the Taskforce’s vision that in the West Midlands, ethnicity, race, and heritage should never be obstacles to people having a fair start in life, or the opportunity for people to reach their potential and flourish.

“My ambition is to make the West Midlands a national leader in addressing race inequality, and I know I cannot do this alone. That’s why my first priority will be to appoint more members to the Taskforce. Applications are open, and my call is to anyone with the right experience, energy and enthusiasm: if you can genuinely help us to make a difference, please take a look at our weblink.”

Endorsed by the WMCA Board, the Taskforce will take action to improve equality of opportunity for all communities across the West Midlands concentrating on race and the extent to which people from different ethnic groups (including White British people) have different experiences and challenges.  

The Taskforce has been launched on the back of evidence showing that people from ethnic minority backgrounds face disparities across a range of areas, from wellbeing to access to transport and housing.

The WMCA’s own Health of the Region Report (2020) found that unemployment rates among ethnic minority groups were more than double that of white groups, at 11% compared to 5%. And with more than 30% of people in the metropolitan West Midllands coming from ethnic minority backgrounds, the need to address racial disparities is seen as a key priority for the WMCA. 

Action orientated, the Taskforce will focus on the policy areas where the WMCA has the most influence – such as the economy, skills and employment, transport, housing, and wellbeing. Criminal justice issues are also being examined by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and the Local Criminal Justice Board, and the Taskforce will be highlighting and raising the profile of this work.

Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “Establishing a new taskforce to take action to improve equality in the West Midlands was a key commitment in my manifesto, and the new Race Equalities Taskforce now has a vital role to play in improving opportunities across all of our communities to ensure everyone can reach their full potential.

“Only by understanding and addressing the longstanding inequalities faced by some of our communities, will we be able to deliver on our aim that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from and share in the region’s success.

“Yetunde brings a wealth of experience to the role of chair and, equally as importantly, energy and commitment to drive this initiative forward. I look forward to working with her, and all of the Taskforce, to improve people’s opportunities across the West Midlands.”