Achieving real diversity

Joining the strands at FoL’s All-Network Meetup

If an event’s speaker line-up truly represents the diversity of London, it is more likely to inspire at all levels; by capturing a wealth of life experiences, attitudes and knowledge, a diverse panel also offers a richer debate.

Last September, our All-Network Meet-Up at City Hall celebrated Future of London’s  Speaker Diversity Network, under the theme of ‘London’s Next Leaders’. In 2018, the meet-up will address how the Speaker Diversity Network serves as a critical strand within a wider, cross-sector push for diversity and inclusion.

To achieve maximum impact, speaker diversity must be part of a holistic strategy for equality across the built environment. The sector must be able to recruit, retain AND progress talent, independent of background, race or gender. Systemic, long-term change will need to take a coordinated and concerted strategy – from engaging the education system and overcoming entry-level barriers, through to evolving company policies.

With that goal in mind, our 27 September City Hall event, supported by the Mayor of London, will connect diversity champions across HR efforts, public campaigns, professional development and platforms like the FoL Speaker Bank, and will serve as both strategy session and celebration.

London is rich in diversity; 40% of Londoners are from Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, and the city is home to a million EU citizens and 1.2m disabled people. Over 300 languages are spoken here. Globally recognised for its inclusivity, London hosts an array of cultures and identities, enriching the city fabric. As Altair’s Steve Douglas put it as he launched the BAME Leadership 2025 course, “the talent is there – if it’s not getting through, we should recognise it’s our sector’s problem and address it urgently.” In unpredictable times like these, those fresh perspectives are especially critical.

To date, the campaigns for diversity and inclusion have been fragmented. This shouldn’t be cast in a negative light, as it has facilitated incredible passion and specialism to evolve. From networks, mentoring schemes through to pledge programmes (such as the Speaker Diversity Pledge, supported by the Mayor of London), the various strands are out there – it’s simply time to bring it all together and move forward.

Register your interest for the event here or by emailing diversity@futureoflondon.org.uk.

Future of London’s Speaker Diversity Network:

The Speaker Diversity Network was born from a recognition that frequently, a handful of traditional, established voices lead significant urban debates. Real Estate Women reported this month that on average, just 14% of all speakers at real estate events across a year are women. It’s a similar story within other sectors, and the problem of under-representation is not just a gender issue.

As part of the network, our Speaker Diversity Bank is a growing network of talented practitioners we can recommend for events across the sector. Quarterly training sessions enable people to quickly gain confidence and experience. This matching service also supports event hosts, often on the look-out for talented individuals with a fresh-take but not knowing where to look. The Speaker Bank now hosts more than 150 practitioners, and with a further 200 entities pledging their commitment to speaker diversity, we are changing the landscape of sector events. But, we can’t act alone.