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The UK workforce needs to focus much more on how diversity matters, says leading campaigner

Young people at school must take action now to increase diversity in the workplace, leading diversity campaigners told an audience at the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Lecture hosted by The University of Law on Saturday, 15 October.

The event, organised by Miranda Brawn, barrister and a leading campaigner for diversity in the UK, raised awareness about the importance of incorporating a broader representation of backgrounds in the workplace, both from a moral and business perspective. This was the UK’s first diversity lecture to be held to include 14-21 year olds from a BAME background.

Miranda Brawn, centre, with the panelists
Miranda Brawn, centre, with the panelists

Among the experts who led the debate were Dame Fiona Woolf DBE, JP, DL, Chancellor of The University of Law; Daniel Winterfeldt, U.S. Securities Partner at global law firm Reed Smith and former Head of International Capital Markets Group at CMS Cameron McKenna; Darren Allaway, Managing Director of the UBS Wealth Management family office group; and Dame Jocelyn Barrow DBE, Director for UK Development at Focus Consultancy Ltd.

The experts gathered on Saturday at the event recognised that while some advances had been made, there 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. 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.

Miranda Brawn commented during the event: “Diversity is important, not just because it is the right and moral thing to do, but because it makes 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. It is crucial that we nurture and grow the next generation of talent from an early age while they are still at school, with the objective of diversifying the talent pipeline to close the diversity gap.”

Miranda Brawn and the winners of the scholarships
Miranda Brawn and the winners of the scholarships

Winners of a number of diversity scholarships were also announced at the event. Scholarships supported by The Prince’s Trust, Hogan Lovells LLP, and the Black Cultural Archives, were presented to Leanne Lashley, Owner of the Miswits Comedy Club, who was granted the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Scholarship for The Prince’s Trust; Suffian Hussain from The University of Birmingham, presented with the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Scholarship for Hogan Lovells’ Law; and Jacqueline Gomes-Neves from New College of the Humanities who won the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Scholarship for Multi Sector. They each received £1,000, mentoring and work experience.

Additional Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Scholarships were awarded to Zahra Haque from The Tiffin Girls School, Kingston; Mobeen Salih from the University of Oxford; Imani Jeffers from the University of Cambridge; and Savannah Odeyemi from Walthamstow School for Girls.