By Grahame Anderson

Controversy over the recent withdrawn poster linked to the #TogetherBradfordCan campaign has been re-ignited following a report from leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton.

Asian Sunday earlier reported the Council issued an apology by way of a statement as the focus began to fall on the makeup of Council staff in terms of those officers from a BAME background. They told us: “As at 1 June 2020 we have 8,168 people who work for Bradford Council (this excludes those working in schools). Of those who have given details of their demographics and background 65% are female, 35% are male, 27.7% are from a BAME background, 4.3% are disabled, 0.6% are LGBTQ+.

“Since 2015 BAME diversity in senior management (special grades/equivalent and above) has increased from 14% to 24.5%.”

We discovered an increasing number of people from BAME backgrounds are taking on more senior roles within the Council. But in terms of both middle and senior managers – figures we obtained revealed more than 75 per cent were white.

Austerity Blamed

Austerity measures across the past decade have been cited as having had a huge impact on staff recruitment. It seems posts have been shed making it impossible to create any sort of balance in terms of diversity.

Damming Report

Asian Sunday has learned the As-Is’ Inclusion Maturity Report from the award-winning company, has concluded among other issues the Council does not practice what it preaches around diversity and inclusion.

Our sources have revealed In terms of employing staff the report cites the Council expects higher levels of qualifications and experience than many other such bodies. This can be a barrier to those from an ethnic background in the city. Indeed, the research suggests local residents struggle to find jobs within the BMDC.

They point to the fact non-British Citizens’ earn on average 19% less than white individuals. When it comes to Bradford Council Only 4% of the senior leadership were identified as ‘other ethnic background.’

MP’s Worries

MP For Bradford West, Naz Shah told me: “I agree there are more than a few worrying conclusions. I’m particularly worried about the fact this report highlights very little has changed.

“I wrote to the Council regarding the poster and had a ‘phone’ meeting with both Kersten England and Susan Hinchcliffe. I’ve also written a further email sharing further concerns following the unsatisfactory explanation given.

“I have written to the leader of the Council, the CEO and the portfolio holder for communities sharing my worrying concerns over this report and have asked for a meeting.”

BMDC Pledge

Asian Sunday asked the Council what they proposed to do following those problems highlighted in the report.

Labour councillor, Abdul Jabar, Executive Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, for Bradford Council said: “Of the Council’s 8,200 employees 28% are BAME and, of senior earners, 24% are BAME. Across the Bradford district 33% of our residents are BAME so clearly there is still more work to do.

“We want the Council to be better at reflecting the population we serve. Where other organisations might not ask questions of themselves, we do. That’s why we commissioned the report, in partnership with ‘Bradford for Everyone’ which is overseen by the district’s Stronger Communities Partnership, well before the Black Lives Matter campaign recently achieved such prominence.

“The report is based on survey-gathered responses from about 450 of our staff, of which about 100 were from our 2,295 BAME staff. Some of the employees who participated have, in the course of their work, experienced racism and micro-racial aggressions. This is completely unacceptable and is a reminder that we still have work to do both as an organisation, and as a society, before we enjoy true racial equality.

“We have a long-standing commitment to equality and diversity. We want staff to flourish and excel in their employment with the Council and to reach their full potential. Only by enabling all staff to do that will the council become a high-performing organisation.

“Our ongoing work in this area includes staff engagement sessions for employees to connect with the Chief Executive and the Council Management Team. We are welcoming and inviting staff from different backgrounds to share their lived experience of working within the Council, so the opportunities and barriers groups or individuals face is clearly understood. This will in turn inform ongoing work the council is doing on the talent management programme, recruitment and job design to support our equalities work. We hope the work will inspire other organisations to do likewise.”

Regarding the TogetherBradford Can campaign – the Council have told me the project has ended.

Report Authors

In terms of ground-breaking Grant Thornton, their Ethnicity Network lead Vincent Eugunlae was recognised as a future leader in the empower 2020 ethnic minority role model list. As a group they’ve committed to the Race at Work Charter requiring them to appoint an executive sponsor for race, capture ethnicity data and publicise progress, commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying, and make clear that supporting equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders.

By way of clear leadership David Dunckly, Grant Thornton CEO says: “We are committed to providing opportunities for our people to be themselves. Every person, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or background should be able to fulfil their potential at work.”

Asian Sunday invited Bradford’s other MPs to comment – who are yet to reply.