Wales Race Equality Conference, Swansea, October 2018

Wales Race Equality Conference, Swansea, October 2018

4theRegion was proud to co-host the Wales Race Equality Conference in Swansea in partnership with Race Council Cymru.  2018 marks fifty years since the Race Relations Act of 1968 came into force. And Monday 8th October gave the Swansea community an opportunity to look at, and assess, just how far the country has come, and how much further it must go.

It’s an important event and the first time it’s been held in Swansea. We’re celebrating fifty years of the Race Relations Act, by bringing together all the various, diverse communities from across our city and our region together with business people, activists and students to talk about issues that are relevant to BAME communities across Swansea today.

Racism and division is still very much an issue in Swansea, and increasingly across Europe.  And we’re really keen to ensure, as the leader of the council said earlier, that Swansea is truly a welcoming city for everybody, and that everybody feels safe and included. So events like today just underline our commitment as a city to diversity and to inclusion.

And it’s all the more important at the current time. Racism is on the rise across Europe, and those of us that stand for equality and diversity need to stand up now and stand together to say that we believe in an inclusive and welcoming society.

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This was Swansea’s first race quality conference. So how big a step forward is this conference for South Wales?

Simon Wooley, director of Operation Black Vote, commented, “This is a massive conference for the people of Wales, black minority ethnic communities in Wales. But also, I guess, the UK and internationally, too. Many people will be looking at this conference, here today, in Swansea. And learning about the discussion, the narratives, the call for actions that will be spoken about today.  I’m an activist fighting for social and racial justice. And we travel the length and breadth of the UK, sometimes to an audience of one man and their dog. But this is quite different. It’s rammed. It’s full. And the level of discussion, the level of interaction, is inspiring.”

The Chinese Association, students, and businesses also attended the conference to dive deeper into the topic of racial equality.  We got a real diverse mix of participants at the conference, and that sort of collaboration across silos is really important. We worked hard to get businesses in the room, as well as activists and political campaigners. As well as students and MBA students in particular, learning about business and inclusion on an economic level.

But that kind of collaboration is really vital. There’s no point in us all having conversations with people that already agree with us. So it’s important to ensure as much support and collaboration for these sorts of events as possible.

We’ve had a fantastic response to our speakers and panel discussions, which more interactive and gave people the opportunity to ask and answer questions.  People were really glad to hear from such a big mix of contributors. And there was a real energy in the room.

Fifty years ago, the Race Relations Act helped ethnic minorities overcome some obstacles. Now with conferences such as this, the Swansea community hope to continue to work towards a prosperous, equal, and vibrant culture for all.

(Thank you to That’s TV for covering the Wales Race Equality Conference)

Procuring Transformation – Event Series Exploring Regional Procurement

Procuring Transformation – Event Series Exploring Regional Procurement

4theRegion has held a series of Appreciative Enquiries into Procurement.  With diverse participants from the public and private sector, we’ve had engagement from Carmarthenshire Council, City Deal, Swansea Council, the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner in Welsh Government, and businesses including major contractors and a mix of smaller local businesses.

Immediately apparent are some of the frustrations felt by both small and large businesses about the extent of bureaucracy around procurement. The sheer volume of work involved in any significant tender process was cited repeatedly as a barrier to small businesses.  Larger businesses reported teams of people devoting months of work to complete just the pre-qualification stage of framework agreements, and the frustration of having to repeat that process every four years to re-qualify.

Other frustrations include the apparent disregard for the immeasurable community benefit of using a local supplier.  The recycling of that money in the local economy, the community projects for schools, the elderly and others, the ripple effects of local people having jobs – these were considered to be “invisible values” that regionally-based firms are able to contribute to wider society.  Our participants felt these beneficial impacts aren’t being effectively demanded, revealed, measured, scored or valued during the tender process.

And of course everyone agreed that the focus on price – and in particular on short term cost, over anything else, is the fundamental problem. Procurement must focus on the whole life / long term cost of goods and services, in environmental, economic and social terms. And must recognise that the focus on price tends to favour the huge corporations who can afford to be cheaper, but who generally can’t deliver the lasting social and economic wellbeing that we all want to see. 

All participants have felt it has been useful to hear the honest views of businesses expressed in this forum.  Colleagues from the local authorities also endorsed the collaborative approach of the meeting.  All too often, discussions about procurement pit the large purchasers against the suppliers in a blame game, but everyone agreed that in fact we are all on the same team, and only by working together will we deliver the change we want to see. 

Based on the principle of crowdsourcing wisdom, 4theRegion is on a mission to ensure businesses, as well as third sector organisations and communities, are meaningfully engaged in the transformation process, helping to shape a new way of working together.  So, emerging from the initial discussion, the following questions guided discussion.

How might we change the way major organisations buy goods and services so that all the benefits of that procurement, and the £6bn of public spend, are retained in the region?

How might we make procurement a force for good, and ensure that the “invisible value” and “added value” that comes from regional procurement is recognised and scored as part of the tender process?

Through the process of appreciative enquiry – acknowledging the best of what is and could be, imagining a better future, and capturing opportunities to move forward – a shared vision has emerged during our sessions, of a region transformed by ‘procurement as a force for good’. High quality jobs and academia, flourishing industries, green transportation, clean air and wellbeing – a glimpse of what could be, if we get this right.

The overarching intention of the events is to start to link procurement principles and processes with the aims of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and the 7 well-being goals for Wales. We regard this as a huge opportunity for the region – not just the permission but also the statutory obligation to change the way we work. Local Authorities and others know they must evolve in accordance with the new law, and the question now is how.

An array of themes and practical ideas have emerged from our discussions so far. 

  • Narrative, not checkboxes – give businesses the opportunity to explain why they are the best choice, and their added value, even if they don’t “tick all the boxes”.

  • Human, face to face relationships between buyers and sellers, not the “computer says No approach”

  • Industry involved in shaping upcoming tenders – meet the buyer events much earlier in the process.

  • Simplify!

  • Demand, measure and score tenders based on whole of life value.

  • Embedding ethical standards – fair trade, b-corp, living wage – in procurement as a way of making change possible and affordable in the private sector.

  • Business Not As Usual – Just because something doesn’t currently work the way we wish it did, doesn’t mean it CANT – be prepared to think the unthinkable, rethink and rewrite the rules.

While Local Authority partners are focussed on ‘upskilling regional businesses’ so that we might succeed in winning more tenders, regional businesses wondered whether we are simply being trained to jump hoops in a broken system. More emphasis on engaging and training public sector procurement staff in better ways of measuring “added value”, and on what the Wellbeing Act means for them, was felt to be a good idea, and one that is immediately implementable.

In terms of outputs, groups have discussed the possibility of drafting a new kind of PQQ, and/or a set of procurement principles, which we would expect to feed into policy-making at all levels. 

Participants have agreed that the first priority is INVOLVEMENT. Let’s ensure we continue to have this conversation with more and more of the right people, including communities affected by decisions on Procurement, businesses and third sector organisations with a desire to contribute, procurement staff within public organisations, decision makers and policy makers at all levels.

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, the City Region Growth Deal, and a new era of regional collaboration in South West Wales. All this context makes NOW absolutely the right time to be having these conversations, and 4theRegion is putting together a calendar of further events on this subject, which we hope you will want to be part of.

Empowering Future Generations Conference, Swansea, June 2018

Empowering Future Generations Conference, Swansea, June 2018

South West Wales biggest sustainability conference took place on 14th June 2018, exploring the challenges & opportunities of Implementing the principles of the Circular Economy in line with The Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015.  With a host of great speakers, lots of regional businesses and representatives from all sectors, Empowering Future Generations was an inspiring event and the start of the journey to transform the well-being of South West Wales.

Keynote Speakers

The opening address was given by Dr. Jane Davidson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement and Sustainability at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  Jane has won a number of UK awards for her work. From 2007 – 2011, Jane was Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in Wales where she proposed legislation to make sustainable development its central organising principle – the Well-being of Future Generations Act came into law in April 2015.

 

 

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, closed the event at the end of the day.  Sophie was appointed as the first Future Generations Commissioner for Wales in February 2016. Her role is to act as a guardian for the interests of future generations in Wales, and to support the public bodies listed in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to work towards achieving the well-being goals.

 

Leader of Swansea Council, Cllr. Rob Stewart provided an update about Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, to an audience of business people unanimous in their support for the project.  There was a lot of anticipation in the air about an imminent announcement about this important regional project.  A couple of weeks following the event, the announcement came from Westminster that the UK Government would not be supporting the project.

 

 

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Event Summary

 

Empowering Future Generations was the region’s first major circular economy conference, held on 14th June, and brought a diverse mix of around 250 participants together at the Liberty Stadium.  The day was a cross-sector opportunity to explore how this region might rise to the challenge of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, which requires organisations to embrace the principles of long term thinking, collaboration, prevention, integration and involvement, in pursuit of the 7 well-being goals.  The move towards a circular economy and “zero waste” is a key component of this – changing the way businesses and people think in order to redesign, reuse, recycle and remanufacture, as opposed to the linear make-use-dispose model that we currently operate on. But it’s also about the move towards a “well-being economy”, where we prize more highly the well-being of the planet, ourselves and our communities, than purely economic growth at any cost.

With 20 expert speakers from across industry, all excited about Wales potential to lead the way in this area, it was a jam-packed agenda which was kept on track by expert chairing from Dr Jane Davidson of University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  The Well-being of Future Generations Act is undoubtedly a catalyst for culture change, for transforming our economy and developing differently to the rest of the UK and the rest of the world. But some key barriers were also identified, not least procurement.  Only when public bodies truly embed well-being principles into the way they evaluate and select their suppliers, will businesses be empowered to change.

And at the other extreme, it’s about personal choices and individual behaviour, and our speakers challenged us all to reflect on this.  Do we pick up a single use non-recyclable coffee cup, or a china one? Do we put in the extra effort it takes to find a sustainable mode of travel, or do we jump in our cars?  Do we hand back our plastic waste at the supermarket checkouts, or do we continue to tolerate obscene levels of plastic and non-recyclable packaging across the retail sector? Going further, do we empower ourselves as leaders when we go to work, to make change happen in our workplaces and businesses?  Often, change happens as the result of one passionate and determined individual refusing to accept the status quo, deciding to combine their personal convictions and their professional influence as a force for good.

It was an inspiring day, with numerous examples of businesses and organisations who are pioneering new ways of working and making change happen.  What made our event distinctive was undoubtedly the healthy mix of public and private sector participants, and the involvement of third sector organisations and social enterprises, brought together in a spirit of co-creation.  With council leaders, officers and local councillors from across the region, as well as large businesses and small companies from all sectors, policy makers from Welsh government, experts, novices, advocates and cynics all taking part – not just in the conference but in the collaborative afternoon workshops – it was a very thought-provoking day, rounded off by a call to action from Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.

But it’s only the start of the conversation.  For many of us, the Empowering Future Generations conference was the first time we really considered how much needs to change if we are to create a prosperous, resilient, healthier, more equal, cohesive, vibrant and responsible Wales.  The challenge now is to make that change happen, by continuing to work together around some of the ideas proposed at the conference.

Event Programme

Sponsors & Exhibitors

Development Round Table at The Growth Factor Conference

Development Round Table at The Growth Factor Conference

Development Round Table Report

On Monday 15th May 2017, Swansea Bay Futures held a unique event and exhibition on the potential growth opportunities for the future of the region and for local business. ‘The Growth Factor’ was held at The Liberty Stadium and included a business breakfast – hosted by GWLAD, a business exhibition of Swansea Bay Futures members, key note speakers, business workshops and round table discussions on transport; development; health & wellbeing; tourism & leisure and the City Centre offer.

For a full transcript of the Development Round Table, please click here.