Minesh Parekh, Sheffield Councillor and Sheffield Labour lead for Economic Development, Culture and Skills, has said that a new inclusive business board will help ensure the city’s economic and business growth strategies reflect the needs of Sheffield’s diverse business base.

The Inclusive Business Board, approved at yesterday’s Economic Development and Skills policy committee meeting, was created from the recommendations of the Council’s Race Equality Commission. Recommendation 7 of the Commission, ‘supporting Black Asian and minoritised ethnic Business and Enterprise‘, spoke to making business development organisations more accessible and available locally for BAME-led businesses.

The new advisory board will be made up of BAME business owners from across the city, representing the city’s SME and social enterprise business base, as well as representatives from the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and an REC commissioner.

In the meeting, Cllr Parekh, Deputy Chair, Economic Development and Skills policy committee, asked for the board to be not just a sounding board for Council policies, but to set targets and missions for politicians to aspire to.

He said: ‘Sheffield’s economic planning must be more representative, and to reflect the needs of, our diverse city.

‘From the Race Equality Commission report, we know there’s a real need for change to ensure our economic strategies enable all of our communities to flourish.

‘Through this Inclusive Business Board, new voices are heard and factored into economic decision making, and that they can challenge the Council and all partners to create a more equal city.’

In 2017, the government-sponsored McGregor-Smith review, ‘Race in the workplace’ found that BAME people still encounter significant disparities in employment and progression. It states that if BAME talent were to be fully utilised, the economy could receive a £24bn boost. Recent gov.uk data shows that in 2018, just 5.4% of small and medium enterprise employers were led by a majority of people from an ethnic minority background.

Cllr Minesh Parekh
Cllr Minesh Parekh
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