Bristol City Council were winners at the Global Equality & Diversity (GED) Awards 2018, and flagship presenters at the 2019 conference, but in recent weeks the city has been heavily featured in the news for it’s historical and current treatment of people of colour.

Black Lives Matter protesters toppled the statue to slave owner Edward Colston before throwing it in the harbour. The city’s mayor, Marvin Rees, calling it an act of ‘historical poetry’ in an interview with the Guardian.

This whole episode has thrown the issue of race relations in the city into the spotlight. On the one hand it has the first directly elected black mayor in Europe, on the other Bristol was considered by the Runnymede Trust in only 2015 to be the seventh worst city for race equality in the UK. Rees’ deputy mayor Cllr Asher Craig told the audience of GED 2019, that the report had ‘shocked the city’. This was a turning point, since this report Rees and Craig have pioneered Bristol’s ‘one city’ approach to tackling racism, “Bristol has been on a journey”.

This approach has been award winning, not just at GED 2018 but many other events. Craig said, “[Bristol City Council] was so proud to win the GED award, it sparked a whole load of other awards for our work too.”

In her tour-de-force presentation at GED 2019 – which you can watch below– Craig told the audience: “The Bristol Equalities Charter sets out what behaviour we expect from the city”.

She was able to list a considerable number of achievements resulting from this approach, they include:

  • First city-wide race data product
  • Race Equality Strategic Leader’s group
  • Council staff equality networks, supporting private sector groups to start
  • Established a HR Leader Group delivering initiatives to improve Diversity & Inclusion

In a moment of candour, Craig admitted “having black leadership made a difference”, referring to Rees and herself in the two highest positions in the council.

She went on to add that not everything has been easy: “Some people don’t like to share how bad things are. You simply have to get over it to make progress”.

The Global Equality & Diversity Conference & Awards 2020 take place on 22 October in London as well as being available fully online. This year’s event will focus on the COVID-19 inequality pandemic and is titled “2020 Vision: Fairness in the Face of a Crisis”. Get your tickets now and do get in touch at if you are interested in being involved in the programme or exhibition.