Plans to make Wales an anti-racist country by 2030 are being put at risk by financial constraints and a lack of representation in leadership positions, MSs have heard.
The Senedd’s equality committee began taking evidence as part of an inquiry into the Welsh Government’s anti-racist Wales action plan on Monday, 6 November.
Published in 2022, the plan aims to tackle unconscious racism, structural discrimination and institutional bias in areas such as health, education, housing and criminal justice.
While the ambition has been widely welcomed, concerns have been raised about implementation.
Ceri Harries, of the NHS Confederation, who has been working in the field for 20 years, described how she has had to “beg, steal and borrow” money for equality initiatives.
She told the committee she has paid for some out of her own pocket because it matters so much to her.
“If we want to take this seriously, you need to put your money where your mouth is,” she said. “If we want to achieve an anti-racist Wales by 2030 then we need to have those resources.”
She also called for a red card system whereby patients who racially abuse staff can be refused treatment if they do not require life-saving services.
David Pritchard, a director at Social Care Wales, said 10.9 per cent of people who work in adult care homes define themselves as coming from a black heritage but it’s only 0.7 per cent for managers.
Abyd Quinn-Aziz, of the British Association of Social Workers Cymru, said: “I think, very simply, as someone black you have to be ten times as good to get in the same place.”
Pushpinder Mangat, medical director of Health Education and Improvement Wales, told MSs that doctors from overseas and those with a different skin colour are not represented in top jobs.
He said: “This probably applied to me before someone chose me or asked me to apply for a senior position. I never thought it would be the sort of thing I would be allowed to do – enabling people to take on senior roles is a huge part of this … everybody has to open doors.”
Prof Mangat added that one university is taking action after finding that 50% of its black students did not complete their course.
Dean Prymble, campaign manager for Show Racism the Red Card, told the committee Wales needs to improve the recruitment of black and Asian teachers, saying: “Betty Campbell was the last black headteacher in Wales – that should not still be the case now in 2023.”
Sue James, of BAMEed Wales, which supports black, Asian and minority ethnic educators, said significantly more money is being invested in the 2050 goal of a million Welsh speakers.
She pointed out that it is much more difficult to teach attitude change than to teach a language.
Yusuf Ibrahim, assistant principal at Cardiff and Vale College, recalled how he applied for assistant head at 17 Welsh schools while in the same position in London but got two interviews and two rejections.
He then sent three applications to Bristol, got three interviews and was offered a job.
Mr Ibrahim said: “When you look at ethnic minority communities, they have high levels of innovation, entrepreneurialism, grit, determination drive – want to work harder, want to do well.
“The only obvious solution to me is to ensure that the system demands that that talent is nurtured and recognised.”