Open College Network West Midlands is strengthening its commitment to promoting race equality in its organisation by signing up to the RACE Equality Code – the first awarding organisation (AO) in England and Wales to do so. Launched in October 2020 by Birmingham-based The Governance Forum, the RACE Equality Code 2020 is an accountability framework designed by leading governance experts to assist organisations in tackling boardroom race equality.

It provides one set of standards and an overarching accountability framework based on current laws, codes and best practice, and streamlines existing recommendations into actions for organisations across every sector. The national AO has submitted an application to adopt the RACE Equality Code and has reviewed its current position on how it manages equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the organisation against the 4 main principles of the code: Reporting, Action, Composition and Education.

The process will require the AO to complete a checklist of provisions to determine what they are already implementing in the organisation and how they fare against the principles of The Code. They will also be asked to score the organisation against a benchmark exercise that helps them to identify additional actions that need to be met and whether they will form part of a wider organisational EDI strategy at board level and in the Senior Leadership Team going forward.

Kevern Kerswell, Open College Network West Midlands’ Chief Executive Officer said: “Open College Network West Midlands is committed to eliminating discrimination and encouraging diversity amongst our workforce.

“Our aim is that, where possible, our workforce will be truly representative of all sections of society and each employee feels respected and able to give their best. To that purpose, we are extremely happy to be setting a precedent and leading the way as the first awarding organisation to sign up to the Race Equality Code.”

Managing Director of The Governance Forum Ltd, Karl George MBE, said: “I am pleased to be working with Open College Network West Midlands on their diversity and inclusion journey. Their commitment to adopt the RACE Equality Code and go through the comprehensive diagnostic process demonstrates the type of leadership that is needed to move the dial on equality.”

Open College Network West Midlands is at the forefront of innovative new qualification development in collaboration with delivery partners across the UK and internationally, helping to widen participation and increase life-changing opportunities to learners of all ages, all walks of life and from all communities across a wide range of vocational areas. With a diverse mix of over 350 qualifications, ranging from Entry Level to Level 7, the AO is able to support an extensive network of training provider organisations both nationally and internationally to support skills delivery and learning progression.