Tackling under-representation – what can we do as a sector?
In the lead-up to the General Election, BBC News reported that in nearly half of London’s constituencies, there was not a single candidate from an ethnic minority background standing for the main political parties, though five of those constituencies have a population of over 50% Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME).
In political and professional spheres alike, it is vital that people can relate to those in leadership positions. To help get there, Future of London is leading a campaign to promote representative voices at events on housing, regeneration, infrastructure, economic development and more.
The campaign includes two initiatives targeted at getting more female, BAME and LGBT talent onto public platforms: the Speaker Diversity Network and Diversity Pledge. We’re spreading the word through our own network of nearly 3,000 professionals, 285 Leaders alumni and 75 organisations, and encourage others to do the same.
The campaign has already inspired a shift in the attitudes and practices of leading organisations, and has brought speaker diversity to the forefront of event hosts’ minds.
Pledge signatory New London Architecture managed to secure 31.5% female speakers at its traditionally heavily male London Real Estate Forum in June. Individual signatories have pledged not to speak on panels that only represent one demographic group, as one told us: “I refused to take part in an event when it emerged that the panel was all-male, and passed it to a BME female colleague. As a result, the organisers included four women in the line-up.”
Reporting back on pledge actions is key. Referring to its commitment to “encourage other organisations to host diverse events,” Centre for London told us “We have made this a condition for our collaborating with other organisations – absolutely no all-male panels, and better representation of minorities in speaking roles.”
To help build a credible pool of speakers for event hosts – and to help knowledgeable practitioners from all backgrounds rise faster – FoL offers quarterly presentation assessment and training workshops to build confidence and skills. Pooja Agrawal, Senior Project Officer at Greater London Authority, was one of the growing number who’s taken advantage of these professional but friendly sessions: “It was a fantastic opportunity to present in front of industry leaders and to receive valuable feedback. It has contributed to building my confidence and remembering what’s important, including breathing!”
FoL is also starting to spread the word more broadly, with Chief Exec Lisa Taylor speaking on diversity at CIH’s Housing 2017 in Manchester (29th June, 9AM) and providing a workshop on ‘The Truth about Networking” to Notting Hill Housing’s BAME Group on 6th July. Let us know what you’re up to and we’ll share the news!
Keen to get involved?
- Sign the Pledge! Pledge statements below and e-form here.
- Contact us to join the Speaker Network!
- Spread the word on Twitter! #DiversityPledgeLDN