Great Britain

Council leader features on national Colour of Power List

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Mohammed Khan features on a national ‘Power List’.

The Colour of Power List has been unveiled by Operation Black Vote (OBV) and also features Rishi Sunak, Sadiq Khan and Priti Patel.

The list is made up governmental figures, CEO’s and Education leaders and aims to highlight ‘the stark visualisation of what power looked like both in racial and in gender terms’.

Councillor Khan was first elected as a Member in 1992, where he represented the Bank Top Ward, now known as Wensley Fold Ward. From 2010, he served as Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care until he was elected leader in 2015.

Across the North West others featured on the list include: Arooj Shah, Oldham Council leader; Joanne Anderson, Liverpool’s elected Mayor and Dr Ebrahim Adia, Chairman of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

OBV launched The Colour of Power back in 2017 and said in the past 12 -18 months there has been a doubling of the number of British Black, Asian, and minority ethnic faces in very high places. In 2017 there were 36, today it's 73, double.

The greatest shift has been in politics, which has seen significant and positive changes from both Labour and the Conservatives, with the Prime Minister appointing a record number of BAME Cabinet members (6) and Ministers (7) to his Government.

Whilst the Labour boasts a record number of BAME Mayors (4) and Council leaders (11). Other small but significant changes can be seen in areas such as Vice Chancellors (6) NHS trusts (3) Consultancy firms (3) and FTSE 100 firms (6) and Trade Unions (2).

In terms of which ethnic groups have seen the biggest increase it is Asian men. But overall BAME women have jumped from a low base of (7) to a record number of (18) Women in general have moved up, but again not as far as one would expect in a four year period, from 23% to 27%.

Simon Woolley, OBV Director said: “Since the death of George Floyd and the unprecedented Black Lives Matters protests that followed there have been some very deep and at times uncomfortable conversations about race inequality and lived experiences that were almost never heard before. 

“OBV’s ground breaking data would suggest that those conversations are now translating into real change in what power looks like. 

“Our data also painfully highlights those areas where movement is worse than glacial. The challenge and hope is to keep this momentum going: Conversation, acknowledgement, positive action. When we do everyone benefits.”

Ashok Viswanathan, OBV COO and CoP coordinator said: “Black faces in high places are what OBV is about. 

“We’ve seen significant change since the 2017 polling, with the number of minority ethnic leaders across the most powerful organisations in the UK nearly doubling. However, there is still work to be done as this figure is only 50% a reflection of modern society. 

“Regrettably, four years after the 2017 iteration and last year’s of Black Lives Matter protests, several institutions remain overwhelmingly, if not entirely, white and male. The struggle continues.”

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