New network to promote diversity in Midlands professional and finance sector

Finance and professional leaders from across the West Midlands have joined forces to create a network to champion diversity and inclusion.

Birmingham has the largest professional and financial services community outside London.

Now the BPFS Black Leaders Network aims to promote and encourage best practice across the sector and show that diverse and inclusive leadership is a true driver for change.

It points to a recent study by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy which shows that “the potential benefit to the UK economy from full representation of race across the labour market, through improved participation and progression, is estimated to be £24bn a year, which represents 1.3% of GDP”.

The network has been founded by Joel Blake OBE, chief executive of GFA Exchange and president of the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce.

Its first event – Diversity Across the West Midlands – will be held on Thursday, May 13. Chaired by Mr Blake, the panel will also include Dr Karl George MBE, founder and managing director at the Governance Forum and founder of The Race Equality Code, and Yetunde Dania, partner and head of office at law firm Trowers and Hamlins.

And there will be more webinars between now and the end of July, covering subjects including Why race diversity matters now more than ever before; The Black Gap: the advantages of black leadership; Commercialising Diversity: Is it Taboo?; Cultivating Difference: How to nurture a diverse talent pipeline; and Colour Culture: Leading by Example.

Mr Blake said: “Having a succinct strategy around how to make racial diversity more effective has huge commercial benefits and can aid innovation within a business.

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“By focusing on practical and actionable solutions, alongside a commitment to diversity across the board, BPFS firms can secure their own future, open up new inclusive talent pipelines, reach out to new customer markets and establish a leadership style and culture that better suits an inclusive and more modern workforce.

“We hope that everyone, from within BPFS firms and beyond, joins us to engage in these important conversations as we create a safe space for people to celebrate best practice and learn how we become more inclusive together.”

The network’s other founder members are:

  • Alex Tross, director, head of office advisory at Lambert Smith Hampton and deputy chairman of Colmore BID

  • Alfred Bartlett, partner, Rapleys

  • Dr Karl George MBE, founder and managing director, The Governance Forum

  • Jonathan Miller, industry engagement leader, Marsh

  • Mac Alonge, founder and chief executive, The Equal Group

  • Matt Burton, director, Barclays Large Corporate Team

  • Rebekah Taitt, relationship director, Barclays Corporate Banking

  • Sharniya Ferdinand, business inclusion manager, NatWest Commercial & Private Banking

  • Tara Tomes, founder and managing director, East Village PR

  • Yetunde Dania, partner and head of office at Trowers and Hamlins

For more information on the seminars, visit the BPFS Black Leaders Network here.

Business Live – West Midlands