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08/10/2020

New BAME planners network can lead us towards a more equitable profession

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A new network for BAME planners aims to tackle inequaity in the profession. Helen Fadipe MRTPI explains the rationale behind the BAME Planners Network. 

Why have we started a Black, Asian, Minority Ethic (BAME) Planners Network, and why now? The need for a formal network became clear following discussions over the course of a year or more with various planning professionals.

The timing to start it now could not have been better, considering the strong emphasis placed on diversity and inclusion by Sue Manns, the RTPI President, and the unrest following George Floyd’s death in the USA in May.

As evidenced at the Royal Town Planning Institute BAME round table in August, discrimination abounds within the profession. Hearing about the daily experiences of BAME planners further emphasised why the BAME Planners Network was created. 

Ours is a friendly platform for engagement and at its heart is an acceptance that BAME planners are diverse, work in various sectors and represent multicultural, multiracial society. Different minorities experience different levels of success in the profession and although indirect discrimination may not be intentional, it does have a profound and long-lasting effect.

“To see a difference in the profession, we have to work together”

A lot has been written about the implications planning policies and practice have for inequalities in cities. But not much is written about the lack or under-representation of BAME planners within the profession, especially at the top of the planning hierarchy. 

In 2005, the UK Government produced Diversity and Equality in Planning – A Good Practice Guide. Fifteen years on, while there is more diversity within the profession arising from the Positive Action Training Pathway (PATH) Tomorrow’s Planners programme, little has changed in the level of BAME representation in management within the private and public sectors.  

The BAME Planners Network will focus on raising the profile of BAME planners, provide support in achieving career goals, encourage BAME people into the profession and collaborate with other organisations to eliminate discrimination. We have to work together. Every member has a role to play by sharing knowledge, experiences, mentoring, coaching, helping to reach out to their local communities and championing the planning profession. 

The network is free to join and though it is primarily for BAME people in the UK and Ireland who work or would like to work in planning, anyone who seeks to the network’s aims is welcome to join us as we journey towards a more equitable profession.

Helen Fadipe MRTPI is a planning consultant and founder of BAME Planners Network, which launched in August 2020

Image credit | iStock

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