Taking action on race equality – Sheffield City Council

The Sheffield Race Equality Commission was established in July 2020 by the Council’s Leader. This was in response to the killing of George Floyd in the United States, the Public Health England report into the impact of COVID 19 on BAME communities, other reports on racial disparities and racism nationally, as well as local knowledge about communities in the city who were under significant pressures and experiencing inequality. 

The Council established The Commission as an independent body to look into the nature, extent, causes and impact of racial inequality in Sheffield and to make recommendations for tackling them. 

The Commission looked at each of the areas below: 

  • Business and Employment
  • Civic life and Communities 
  • Crime and Justice 
  • Education 
  • Health 
  • Sports and Recreation

Over 50 key organisations across Sheffield endorsed the Commission and it received over 150 pieces of evidence, and it spoke with over 165 witnesses through hearings and Focus Groups. 

Many of the themes highlighted below emerging from the evidence were repeated across organisations and communities in the city. They also intersect with other characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010:

  • Austerity, Black Lives Matter, Covid 19
  • Race, Racism, and Inequalities
  • Reporting, Grievance and Disciplinaries
  • Antiracism
  • Data and Research
  • Communities, Consultation and Co-Production
  • Funding and Gatekeepers
  • Workforce Diversity and Leadership
  • Board Membership and Governance
  • Trust and Confidence

The Race Equality Commission Recommendations

The recommendations from the Sheffield Race Equality Commission are a Call to Action emerging from the evidence gathered and analysed in the writing of its report. There are 7 Recommendations, covering 39 Action Points with a considerable number of lower-level points, giving in excess of 100 actions. The report identifies Recommendation 1 as fundamental to everything that follows.

The recommendations are:

  1. Sheffield: An Antiracist City – (Governance, Leadership & Workforce).
  2. Educating Future Generations and Showing Leadership in our Educational Institutions 
  3. Inclusive Healthy Communities: Wellbeing and Longevity for All 
  4. One Sheffield in Community Life: Inclusion, cohesion, and confidence 
  5. Celebrating Sheffield Through Sport and Culture: Past, Present and Future 
  6. Proportionality and Equity in Crime and Justice 
  7. Sheffield Equal and Enterprising: Supporting Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic Business and Enterprise

There is no legal definition of what constitutes an ‘antiracist’ organisation, but the report is seeking for organisations in Sheffield to progress becoming fully antiracist within 36 months by possessing the following qualities:


Zero tolerance policies (with severe sanctions for proven) harassment, bullying and discrimination,


Line managers hold specific responsibilities (and incentivised) to ensure EDI is well managed in their areas,

Debiased Systems

Robust EDI controls and processes in place to ensure that ethnically diverse employees (and prospective applicants via the use of blind CVs and guaranteed interviews) are well supported in their career progression (inc. mentoring, training, ‘deputy’ opportunities, ethnicity pay gap reporting),

Empowered Staff

Have ‘safe spaces’ available for employees to voice ideas, share suggestions and raise concerns informally with specific hubs (chaired by an appropriate race inclusion ally*) for different ethnic groups and other protected characteristics (e.g., LGBTQ+),


A strong diverse membership that includes a designated board member role with specific expertise on EDI and race,

Data Gathering and Reporting

Accurate data and metrics (segmented by grade / pay band / gender / department / location / specific ethnicities) regularly captured and reported to identify EDI performance (inc. benchmarking) and prioritised issues (as early indicators of racism and racial disparities),

Transparency and Accountability

Operates an EDI policy with specific intersectional ‘joined up’ race content (with EDI performance regularly assessed and published, e.g., annual report and accounts) which sets robust standards of good practice that apply across the organisation end-to-end (inc. procurement, funding criteria, customers) and extends throughout the supply chain (with equivalent standards also binding upon any third party which does business for or on behalf of that organisation)

Taking the Race Equality Commission recommendations forward 

The approach to taking forward the REC recommendations for Sheffield City Council has three strands of:

  • Our work with anchor and partner organisations
  • Our staff
  • Our communities and services

Following a report to the Strategy and Resources Committee on 30 August 2022, the Council is currently preparing its detailed response and Action Plan to the Report. A presentation on the REC Report, its key findings and implications for services is being developed.

In the meantime, you can read the full or summary REC report, watch videos of the of the REC Hearings and the view the evidence on the Council’s website.

View the Race Equality Commission webpage