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BPS Future Chairs share Birmingham young professionals’ views of ‘Making Leadership our Business’ at University of Birmingham Forum

News Categories: future

The unique diversity profile of the West Midlands is a huge asset but there is a significant leadership diversity gap.

On Wednesday 5th June, the Centre for Women’s Enterprise, Leadership, Economy and Diversity (WE LEAD) at University of Birmingham hosted senior business leaders from across the region to showcase leading edge research on how to develop inclusive organisations for long-term leadership success.

The forum was chaired by Professor Kiran Trehan Director of WE LEAD. She led an interactive discussion with cross-sector senior leaders and industry experts who champion the recent findings of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Leadership Commission.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, gave the opening keynote addressing the inclusivity and leadership gap and an agenda for change. He gave insight into his personal experience, the challenges he is tackling head-on and his hopes for the future.

Speakers Karl Edge, Regional Chairman of KPMG, and Roger Dix, Chief Risk Officer, Wesleyan Assurance Society followed. Both shared the changes implemented in their business’ policy, procedure and culture. The good practice, lessons learnt, and work yet to be done.

Katie Fulcher, Chair of BPS Birmingham Future, gave a passionate, persuasive and mobilising speech about the challenges faced by young professionals and emerging talent in accessing leadership positions. Katie shared hard hitting statistics about the slow pace of change and the impact this will have on the productivity of the region.

Katie outlined the incredible, largely volunteer-led, work BPS Future does to upskill its members, and inspire young talent to reach senior positions in the professional services sector, regardless of their race, background, gender and sexuality.

She called for collaborative action for large-scale change though, the private, public and education sector working openly and ambitiously together. Shining the spotlight on the impact small interventions can make, (BPS Mentoring scheme, the Leadership Development Programme, Professional Services Week), she added:

“Whilst it’s my privilege to chair an organisation like Birmingham Future and be provided with opportunities like this address today, Future or I cannot make the difference working alone. There are so many organisations and initiatives doing brilliant work across our region. That’s our power – collective effort.

We welcome the findings of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Leadership Commission. The economic and business imperative for greater leadership diversity and inclusivity in addition to the clear social imperative is clearer than ever. We agree, a step change is needed.”


Professor Kiran then led a panel discussion on the views of young professionals in the region. She questioned Ria Blagburn, Team Integrator at Vanti and Chair of BPS Future’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Kirn Dibra, Risk and Control Manager at Experian and Chair of the BYPY Committee, and Andy Newnham, Deputy Director of Business Engagement at the University of Birmingham.

Sharing personal stories of their career and membership of BPS Future they confidently conveyed it was time all businesses celebrate, challenge and work with difference.

Ria said; “The greatest thing senior leaders can do to bring more diversity and inclusion to their teams and companies is empower younger colleagues to take action themselves, so everyone has the ability to make a difference. It’s also vital that we all hold our hands up when we don’t know something, and take proactive steps to educate ourselves.”

Professor Kiran concluded that it was time to start breaking down institutional structures. Start doing more and less talking, to drive a collective movement working collaboratively for change. A change where Inclusivity goes beyond diversity, beyond just a focus on recruitment practices, into the fabric of the culture of our organisations. A focus on skills and the differences that make a difference. The blending of different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.

To share your organisation’s interest in increasing leadership diversity join the West Midlands Combined Authority inclusive leadership pledge.