simply’s Content Creator, Laura Riaz, sat down (virtually) with Priya Bates, President of Inner Strength Communication and Advita Patel, Director of CommsRebel who are Co-Founders of A Leader Like Me.

A Leader Like Me is a support network for underrepresented people in leadership positions, set up to build confidence and provide learning opportunities to empower them to succeed.

Diversity in Action is an initiative developed by Priya and Advita, presented in the form of a global event with speakers from a variety of backgrounds and industries, to bring awareness of the need for organisational change.

Taking place on Tuesday, 23rd of March 2021, the conference features a full day of talks, panels and networking, covering topics such as building an inclusive culture, creating an anti-racist organisation and disability awareness.

Why was A Leader Like Me created?

Although most companies have a Diversity and Inclusion policy, through our conversation, it was clear that this isn’t enough to challenge the systemic racism and discrimination that still exists in our society and workplaces of today.

With many years of communications experience between them, Priya and Advita were working on building their own businesses at opposite sides of the pond before joining forces on A Leader Like Me.

As Priya became Advita’s mentor, the two women realised how their lived experiences were almost identical, regardless of location, with Advita in Manchester and Priya in Canada.

Having both faced the challenge of feeling underrepresented in the boardroom, not just as women, but as women of colour, they decided to create a space where leaders like them could seek support in their career goals. One of those being whether they’d like to stay in corporate life, or set up their own businesses as Priya and Advita are both testament to.

Keeping the conversation alive

Following on from the tragic murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement was born and continues to gain momentum around the world.

A key consideration for Priya and Advita was making sure that the conversation around diversity carries on, in a turn of events that has forced organisations to consider their practices and whether they are supporting and giving their underrepresented employees equal representation.

Priya said: “What we’ve seen is an empowerment of the traditionally underrepresented groups to speak up. What happened to George Floyd not only empowered the anti-black conversation; it also empowered the ability conversation and the LGBTQ+ conversation.”

What do we need to do as internal communicators?

In October 2020, A Leader Like Me hosted their Diversity in PR conference, an online event for leaders to share their stories and strategies for creating inclusivity in the workplace.

Following this, Diversity in Action is going to explore the conversation beyond PR and into other industries – including internal comms – focusing on the following questions:

  • How far have we come?
  • Have we seen progress?
  • What more can we do?

Advita said: “Our conferences are not only for underrepresented people, because they understand what the challenges are. Our conferences were created for allies and sponsors who want to understand more about how they can become a better ally and what changes they can make. In my experience, the feedback we’ve had from many people is that they sympathise with what we’re saying, but don’t know what they could possibly do to help.”

The issue is that people feel the need to do something, but because they’re not necessarily a chief executive or government official, they don’t know if their actions will make enough of an impact.

Advita explains that “every single person has the power to make a difference, regardless of the goals that you have or the work that you do, having the confidence to step into that conversation and say: ‘you can’t use that kind of language’ or asking if there is fair representation can cause a ripple effect across the organisation.”

Influencing industry-wide change

Panel line-ups are being shaken-up as organisations around the world are becoming conscious and aware that they feature majority-white speakers.

In 2020, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), released its Race in PR report – the first of its kind in the PR industry – which revealed that 92% of employees in the communications industry are white.

Priya said: “There are 25 to 30 white speakers and organisations who are considering diversity as a priority don’t think twice about this. If the only people who are qualified to present to others are white people; what perspectives are you missing? What aren’t you learning? And why aren’t we progressing? It’s because we’re not listening to other opinions and people who are different from ourselves.”

A Leader Like Me is breaking down barriers, campaigning for change and providing a positive outlook for underrepresented practitioners who need organisations and their employees to speak out against discrimination and inequality.

If you’d like to support or join A Leader Like Me and attend the Diversity in Action event on the 23rd of March, you can register now.

THE AUTHOR

Laura Riaz

Laura Riaz is simply’s content creator. With a strong background in copywriting and social media management, she thoroughly enjoys writing about the wonders of internal comms.

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