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UK’s first diversity lecture aimed at top BAME schoolkids

INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION: Dame Jocelyn Barrow and Miranda Brawn

ONE OF the country’s leading diversity experts, Barrister and Vice-Chair of the Black Cultural Archives, Miranda Brawn, has launched the UK’s first diversity lecture.

The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Annual Lecture was attended by around one hundred 14-21-year-old Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) future leaders and hosted by the UK’s leading law school, The University of Law last Saturday (Oct 15).

This is the first time that a diversity lecture has taken place in the UK to include the 14 to 18 year old age group and saw some of the best BAME talent from across the UK in attendance.

“I am delighted that history has been made during UK Black History Month 2016 as the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Annual Lecture is the first diversity lecture to be held in the UK for 14-21 year old young leaders from a Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) background," Brawn said. "The young people who attended the event are just so inspiring and committed to their own careers and diversity. My main focus has been to educate and inspire others on the benefits of diversity and help to drive all forms of diversity, especially race and gender to the forefront."

She added: "Diversity is important, not just because it is the right and moral thing to do, but because it makes a good business sense. Companies that champion and promote diversity, in every sense of the word within their organisation, reap very real rewards from their efforts, such as enhanced business performance, reputational strength, a more innovative and collaborative culture and the ability to attract the best talent in the market."

The diversity lecture raised awareness about the importance of incorporating a broader representation of backgrounds in the workplace, both from a moral and business perspective.

Brawn, set up her eponymous foundation to provide the next generation of BAME future leaders with opportunities for success via diversity lectures and scholarships, which include funding, mentoring and work experience.

Brawn was also joined by fellow legal and diversity luminaries, including Dame Jocelyn Barrow DBE, Patron of the Black Cultural Archives and Founder of the Campaign against Racial Discrimination (CARD); who provided a keynote talk on the history of the UK race relations.

L-R Darren Allaway (UBS), Dame Fiona Woolf (Chancellor of the University of Law & Partner at CMS), Miranda Brawn (Barrister, Founder & VC of BCA), Daniel Winterfeldt (Partner at Reed Smith) and Dawn Hill (Chair of the Black Cultural Archives)

Among the diversity experts who led the debate, moderated by Brawn, were Dame Fiona Woolf DBE, JP, DL, Chancellor of The University of Law, partner at CMS Cameron McKenna and was the Lord Mayor of London for the year 2013/14; Daniel Winterfeldt, partner at Reed Smith; Dawn Hill, Chair of the Black Cultural Archives; and Darren Allaway, managing director of UBS Wealth Management.

Each recounted their knowledge and experience of fighting for diversity across the different diversity strands, emphasising to the young audience that they too needed to take positive action to create a diverse workforce.

The diversity experts recognised that while some advances had been made, they were still challenges ahead. In particular, engagement of diversity champions at board level was highlighted as a key measure for tackling the lack of minorities’ representation within organisations.

Dame Jocelyn Barrow, Patron of The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation and Black Cultural Archives applauded the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Annual Lecture & Scholarships said: “It is our responsibility to make sure that we leave our space in a better place than when we found it. Each and every one of us should see ourselves as agents of social change.”

CEOs and senior leaders need to promote diversity in public, in the boardroom, in their day-to-day interactions with their direct reports and with their employees if they want to see the message of a more diverse workforce become a reality. Hiring practices should also be improved, for example by using CV-blind policies for job interviews. Finally, the speakers discussed the importance of educating and raising awareness of the current diversity issues faced by the UK workforce with the next generation of workers while they are still at school.

This year, Brown has also teamed up with Black Cultural Archives (BCA), who aims to preserve and celebrate the heritage of black people in Britain and The Prince’s Trust, a youth charity that helps young people aged 13 to 30 get into jobs, education and training founded by Charles, Prince of Wales.

She also offered insight on how to close the diversity gap, while educating the next generation about the various forms of diversity issues currently facing the UK workforce for race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, faith, age and social mobility, in order for the young leaders to start to think about how they can make a difference taking action now in order to close the diversity gap.

"Engaging in positive dialogue and action are essential steps in creating understanding and progress for diversity within the UK workforce. We need to focus much more on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why’ diversity matters in the 21st Century,” Brawn added.

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