New Chair calls for applicants as taskforce is launched to tackle race inequality in the West Midlands

07 December 2021

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

The Taskforce will be led by an independent Chair – announced today as 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 launching today (Monday 6 December 2021).

Yetunde Dania 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 opening today, 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 the weblink below.”

Endorsed by the WMCA Board in July, 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 Midlands 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.” 

The work of the Taskforce will be shaped by an independent baseline report into race inequalities in the region. It will also be guided by a Members Advisory Group. Chaired by Cllr Brigid Jones,  the WMCA’s portfolio lead for inclusive communities, the group will help the Taskforce  build on the work already being delivered by local authorities, communities and businesses.

Councillor Brigid Jones, who is also Deputy Leader at Birmingham City Council, said: “The Race Equalities Taskforce is a necessary and bold initiative and I am really glad to have been part of the panel which appointed Yetunde Dania as its Chair. I have every confidence that she will bring the experience and energy needed to drive forward meaningful change.

“The next step will be to appoint more ‘strategic doers’ like Yetunde to join the Taskforce, to bring together a wide range of partners who can learn from each other and find new ways to improve equality of opportunity for all of our communities.”

Anyone aged 18 or above with a strong connection to the West Midlands, and with appropriate experience, can apply to join the Taskforce. The aim is to build a membership that represents different parts of the region and diverse communities, sectors, and areas of expertise.  

Applications will open on Monday 6 December 2021 and at midnight on Sunday 16 January 2022.

Membership of the Taskforce is a purely voluntary role and not paid employment with the Combined Authority. To find out more about the role and apply, please use the following link:!/vacancy/109705