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Webinar — 16.10.20

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The Power of Privilege with June Sarpong

A charity fundraiser for Women Supporting Women

June Sarpong MBE has one of these careers that we can all envy for its breadth across many different platforms and covering both light and serious subjects. From T4 presenter to a regular host and interviewer for events such as Mandela's 90th and Tony Blair’s election campaign, committed ambassador of the Prince’s Trust, founder of an influential women's network, author of three award-winning books, and most recently the fascinating job of director of creative diversity at the BBC. None of this came easy but June is a force to be reckoned with, and also a force for good as demonstrated by her most recent role and book titled 'The Power of Privilege', a smart and digestable manual on how white people can challenge racism.

We love this recent quote from June “I didn’t and I don’t have the luxury of being mediocre, or the luxury of people assuming my opinion is valid because of the package I come in. I’ve always been doubted – I didn’t go to university, I’m not Oxbridge-educated, but I never allowed that to bother me, because I’ve never believed that is the only sign of intelligence. What I do know is that if somebody has hired me – even if they consider it the diversity hire – I know when I get there that I can do the job. I’m not doubtful.”

We had such a great chat with June whose enthusiasm and passion on the topic of diversity, and the enormous benefits it brings, permeated through the computer screen. We're excited to see where June's career will go, and the positive impact she will have (if its not obvious, we're huge fans!)

Here are the top ten takeaways:  

  1. June has always been the only one in the room – woman, black, working class and so on. You have to learn to hold your own, and have it clear in your mind who you’re doing it for. It’s not always enough to just do it for yourself, there are too many insecurities and hurdles to overcome, but if you have the bigger picture in mind it can help drive you onwards.  

  2. As women we’ve been conditioned to doubt ourselves. We’ll always have it in some capacity but can confront it. June gave her Imposter Syndrome a name - Agnes!  Be confident enough to do something brave, and that will give you confidence to do the next thing.

  3. We only see one type of success now – the confident extrovert. Not everyone needs to be front facing and selling the vision, you need the support characters too. We need to value the different roles that we have to play, and appreciate the diversity.

  4. It’s not a level playing field and we need to come to terms with that. Every family needs to have conversations to educate their children and engage change. Parents need to have open conversations with their children to make them racially confident, so they stand up for equality rather than shy away from difficult situations.

  5. June knew from a young age that her path was not the same as her female counterparts. What was available to them was not available to her, so she had to do things differently and did so successfully. Negatives can turn into positives, but we all need to understand what we’re dealing with to then come up with mitigating strategies.

  6. Resistance isn’t always what you think, it can be fear. Remember that often people don’t understand, and are so scared of getting it wrong they don’t say anything. We need more education and conversations and should recognize that one of the root causes of racism is ignorance. Allow that vulnerability to come out and solutions will follow.

  7. We have to be ok with disagreeing. This is a democracy and we shouldn’t all agree! But try and see the humanity in people rather than getting entrenched into positions.

  8. The world can move quickly. Look at the Me Too movement and how fast things changed. Once the change starts there is no stopping it. So we will see seismic shifts in the diversity agenda, but we all have our role to play to speed it up.

  9. The next stage of equality needs to be about moving from accusation to conversation. Until we do that, the topic will be seen as a threat and will result in defense or lashing out. We need to bring everyone, particularly men, to the table and start talking.

  10. The good news is that we have moved beyond the ‘why’ to the ‘how.’ It’s a good place to be, and now we need to get to the ‘do’ and get sh*t done!

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Speaker

June Sarpong

Broadcaster, Author 

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Chair

Georgina Parker

Broadminded Director

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Chair

Morag Ofili

Broadminded Director