Signing up to improve diversity in local democracy

A pledge to improve diversity in democracy across the city was agreed and signed at Full Council on Thursday 20 July.

By signing up to the Diverse Councils Declaration, we are joining councils across the country to support the call for councillors to reflect the diversity of the community they represent.

National data show us that 96% of councillors describe themselves as white, 88% as heterosexual or straight, 16% have a disability or long-term condition, 36% have caring responsibilities and only 36% are female.

It’s vital that those with protected characteristics, such as age, disability, race, gender, religion, pregnancy and maternity, or sexual orientation, have a fair chance to shape the decisions which affect them and the city they live in.

The pledge to become a diverse council builds upon our continuous work on becoming an anti-racist council, detailed in our first Anti-Racism Strategy published in March.

The Declaration

The Diverse Councils Declaration has been developed by Baroness Debbie Wilcox of Newport, working with the Co-operative Party and local authorities in England.

The cornerstone of the declaration is to provide a clear public commitment to improving diversity in democracy.

To improve representation, the declaration sets ambitious targets for candidates from underrepresented groups and suggests promoting the talent and diversity of colleagues through mentoring and shadowing.

Flexibility, parental support and fair remuneration are also on the forefront of the Declaration, ensuring that the role of member is not limited to those who can afford it.

Additionally, it concerns itself with the duty of care for councillors by providing access to mental health services and taking a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment of members.

Becoming a diverse council

Councillor Leslie Pumm, Chair of the Equalities, Community Safety & Human Rights Committee, said: “By signing the Diverse Council Declaration, we pledge to review and build upon our existing efforts to create a fair city with a leadership that reflects its diversity.

“Becoming a diverse council doesn’t just mean representing our communities to the best of our ability, we must actively remove the cultural, leadership and policy barriers to representation.

“The council elected in May 2023 is the most diverse council in Brighton & Hove’s most diverse and we must protect this achievement at all costs.

“Only by ensuring everyone has the access to decision-making we can reach our full potential as a council and invigorate the efficiency and trust in local democracy.

“I am pleased our council is already undertaking steps to improve its diversity such as delivering events to educate and encourage people from under-represented groups to stand for office and undertaking equality surveys.”