To celebrate Black History Month, Venari Partners attended the Reverse Mentoring and Race Equality event in London on the 26th of October. Organised by the EW Group, the session comprised of an open conversation and Q&A between hosts Babita Sharma and Sharla Smith and the audience, who was encouraged to engage with the speakers. The event was the first 'in-person’ EW Group meeting hosted for a long while, and we were delighted to be invited on this special occasion.
The session started with an interesting statement: when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, the priority should be to "keep the conversation free, not flawless”. By encouraging everyone to participate in the debate, sensitive but essential questions can be discussed in an open and honest way more frequently.
As with Women's History Month, 31 days is obviously too short to tackle all issues related to such a crucial concern: from health to professional life and social inequalities, the discussion about race should be continuous and not subject to one month a year.
Babita and Sharla talked about how positive action programmes (such as mentoring) can move the dial on race equality when they actively engage leaders from across the organisation. Amongst other topics, they discussed the importance of finding your authentic voice, embracing vulnerability, representation and the complex notion of tokenism.
At Venari Partners, we are devoted to increasing women's and ethnic minorities' representation at all levels of leadership, internally and across the sectors and clients we represent.
Babita Sharma is a broadcaster, journalist and author. A well-known anchor for BBC News, Babita was the daughter of first-generation immigrant shopkeepers in Reading, Berkshire. Her family’s story was the starting point for her critically acclaimed documentary Booze, Beans & Bhajis: The Story of the Corner Shop which aired on BBC Four in 2016. She has since written the award-winning book The Corner Shop (which was a Between the Covers pick on BBC Two) and will soon publish a picture book series with Hachette Children's Books.
Sharla Smith is a diversity consultant at EW Group. She delivers engaging and effective training around diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias and is delivering EW Group’s own internal EDI review. Sharla has experience in establishing and creating theatre forums and diversity groups in support of inclusivity, where she has delivered live acted performances that create long-lasting discussion around inclusion and unconscious bias. Her clients include the Professional Cricketers’ Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Get in touch with the EW Group for any equality, diversity and inclusion consultancy needs.