Today joined around 200 people at the Bristol M Shed for a standing room only event to launch the Bristol Equality Charter.
The Bristol Equality Charter is unique to our city. Although we have many documents about equality, this one attempts to bring everything together in one place.
Key to the potential of the Charter is the fact that it’s something that has been written by over 20 Bristol based organisations from across the public, voluntary community and private sectors. And more are signing up. Bristol City Council area founding member, but it’s owned by the city.
The development of the charter has led to the formation of a new Bristol Equality Network.
A group of individuals representing the equalities agenda within their organisations. The network will meet regularly to support new organisations that sign up to the charter, and share information and good practice.
I shared a number of reflections on a couple of the challenges facing us in this work. First is to rescue Equalities from being an after thought once all the “serious” work has been done. While many would agree to the importance of equality and inclusion, it actually lands as a check on existing strategy and policy after the fact, rather than a driver and shaper of policy and strategy at its point of origin.
Second, its essential we don’t allow the different equalities “strands” to be played against each other like Top Trumps. It has sometimes been the case that when someone talks about race, someone raises class or vice versa. Or when someone raises gender someone raises disability or vice versa. It has sometimes been the case that equalities has become a race to the bottom for who has the worst story. We need to get to a position of collective respect where we simply realise that they are all true and that many people live at the intersection of multiple equalities stories.
I also shared the considerable opportunities. The 2010 book “The Spirit Level” argued that more equal societies almost always do better on a whole range of indicators a from economy development to health and education. As a result they argue we have reached the end of what growth alone can do for us as a policy tool. The key lever is now delivering equality.
Finally Channel 4 chose Bristol in major part because of our genuine commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. It’s in this sense that its become an asset, profit that values and a commitment to a better society and good growth can win the inward investment we need to take Bristol forward.