A funding boost has helped a Birmingham organisation to expand its campaign for more ethnic diversity in the city's professional, financial and business support services sectors.
Birmingham Professional DiverCity provides professional consultancy services to help companies maximise the opportunities presented by Birmingham's rapidly changing population.
Regional development agency Advantage West Midlands is now awarding it just over £200,000 per annum for the next three years.
DiverCity executive director Richard Johnson said he was delighted with the commitment from AWM, which will enable the organisation to appoint new skilled consultants.
The organisation estimates that within the next five years more than 50,000 jobs could be created in the professional, financial and business support service sector in Birmingham and Solihull.
However, despite the fact that the ethnic population of Birmingham is more than 30 per cent and forecast to grow to 50 per cent in the next 15 years, fewer than one in five staff in the sector are from black and minority ethnic groups.
Mr Johnson said the additional funding would enable Birmingham Professional DiverCity to offer an auditing service which will ensure organisations are able to access the best available candidates regardless of their ethnicity.
An extended Birmingham Professional DiverCity board has also been appointed, under the chairmanship of Norman Gasgoine.
The appointees include Birmingham's top professionals, such as Gurjeet Bains, editor of the Sikh Times and president of the Institute of Asian Businesses; Birmingham Future chairman Neil Frankland; Ronnie Bowker, managing partner at Ernst & Young and David Draycott, director of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce & Industry. One of the first companies to sign up to the DiverCity pledge was property consultants Boston Fieldgate.
Managing partner Charles Smith said: "We made the DiverCity pledge in 2003 and our commitment remains strong, reinforced by the enthusiasm and support of the DiverCity team.
"In our view taking full advantage of the opportunity afforded by the city's changing diversity and ethnic mix is a 'no choice' option for any business wishing to thrive.
"The support, encouragement and interest in our business shown by the Diver-City team is at the highest level and spurs us on as they make it easier to create and forge links between likeminded individuals and businesses from across the ethnic groups in the city."
Mr Johnson added: "We are growing momentum in these sectors with new clients taking the diversity business pledge on a weekly basis, as well as actively making tangible changes and improvements to their organisations to reflect the diversity of the region.
"The new board is growing and becoming more representative of the sector and an increase in consultants means that a more comprehensive service is being provided."