Call for Diversity and Inclusion at the core of the Northern Powerhouse
One of the UK’s leading Diversity Champions is calling for the Northern Powerhouse to embrace the diversity agenda as the group’s first Business Summit gets underway.
The three-day business summit to celebrate Northern innovation and discuss the future direction of the Powerhouse will take place from Wednesday 4th to Friday 6th July at the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle Gateshead.
The summit will bring together businesses, government ministers, Northern Mayors and business leaders from across the North of England to help shape the next stage of the Northern Powerhouse through panel discussions, presentations, workshops and speeches.
Lawyer and Diversity Magazine founder Garth Dallas is keen to bring together businesses in the North of England to place diversity and inclusion as a cross-cutting theme in all the aims and objectives of the Northern Powerhouse. He has developed the Diversity and Inclusion Business Forum to do just that.
Recently Mr Dallas organised a full-day conference at the International Business Festival in Liverpool which explored best global practise in diversity and inclusion with a focus on Supplier Diversity, particularly in international trading opportunities.
He says the time is now right with Brexit looming for companies and organisations across the north to fully embrace diversity and inclusion in their supply chains for business and ethical reasons.
“We’re calling on the Northern business leaders to look at their supply chains and ask how many of those firms are run by women, black people, people with disabilities or elderly people?
“In the long run it will benefit business – there IS a measurable return on investment”.
At the end of the International Business Festival Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, hailed the strength of the northern economy and the success of its export businesses. He said the country’s business partners are now looking to the northern region for opportunities to invest and trade internationally.
Garth Dallas is taking up Liam Fox’s challenge by calling for the Northern Powerhouse to develop an Inclusive Procurement Standard for the partnership and for the Diversity and Inclusion Forum to become a membership group comprising existing Northern Powerhouse partner companies, along with other organisations who are committed to the Forum’s charter.
He is keen for the Northern Powerhouse to organise annual a Diversity and Inclusion Business Awards to celebrate companies who “practice what they preach with diversity – it’s certainly not about ticking boxes”, Mr Dallas argues, “it’s about making businesses more efficient and getting the best skills base from the best widest possible workforce, and that means including people who have hitherto been excluded”.
Background: Northern Powerhouse
Since the Northern Powerhouse was launched in 2014:
- According to the UK Govt the North’s economy has grown by £21 billion (GVA, ONS 2014/15; 2015/16); almost half a million jobs have been created since 2010 and more power has been transferred from Whitehall to the North than under any government in decades
- The UK Govt says it has also committed to investing more to improve northern transport than any government in history; shaved off 15 minutes on train journey times between Liverpool and Manchester; created and funded Transport for the North, the country’s first sub-national transport body; committed £337 million to upgrade the Tyne and Wear Metro in the North East; and ring-fenced £3 billion to dramatically upgrade the rail route between Manchester and Leeds
- In 2016 the UK Govt published the Northern Powerhouse Strategy, outlining plans to boost economic growth by improving transport connections, strengthening education and skills outcomes, boosting levels of trade and investment, and strengthening private sector growth
- In 2017 the UK Govt launched the £400 million Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and rolled out finance to over 100 northern firms so they can start up, grow, and expand their operations globally
- The UK Govt says it has also undertaken over 50 Northern Powerhouse Trade Missions to promote northern businesses and investment opportunities to the world – from San Francisco to Dubai. Over the past 2 years, the number of foreign investments in the North has increased at double the national average
- The UK Govt says it has invested £3.4 billion in the Northern Powerhouse for projects to boost local economies through Northern Powerhouse Growth Deals since 2014