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Society has been reckoning with racial inequalities following Black Lives Matter protests around the world last year.
The business world is no different and renewed energy has gone into tackling the problem of poor ethnic minority representation at the top of the corporate world. Many organisations have announced new initiatives to elevate ethnic minorities internally or pledged funding for organisations that help the cause.
But there is still so much more to do.
Elevating, celebrating, and amplifying the visibility and voices of people of colour from across the globe is more important than ever.
The 2021 EMpower 100 Ethnic Minority Future Leaders lists celebrates inspirational people of colour who are not at the very top of their organisations but are making a significant contribution to ethnic minority people at work.
The 20 highest achieving executives have been ranked while the remaining 80 are celebrated in no particular order, reflecting the achievements of each individual.
The list was created by diversity and inclusion membership organisation INvolve and is supported by Yahoo Finance UK.
All the executives listed were nominated by peers and employees. Nominations were reviewed by EMpower’s judging panel, including former head of Yahoo Finance UK and now director of creative content development for Yahoo, Lianna Brinded.
Each person on the list was scored on the influence of their role, their impact on ethnic minority inclusion inside and outside the workplace, and their business achievements.
Read more from the EMpower lists:
1) Maryse Gordon, business development manager, data & analytics, London Stock Exchange Group
When Maryse worked to launched London Stock Exchange Group's (LSEG.L) Black Employee Inspired Networking Group in the Americas, she drew on her five years’ experience as vice-chair of the Women’s Inspired Network New York, replicating the successful framework used to elevate women while making the necessary changes for addressing ethnicity challenges.
Alongside the rest of the BEING leadership team, Maryse facilitated numerous initiatives to drive the diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda, working with D&I and HR on areas like unconscious bias training, hiring practices and career development. She also drew on her internal and external connections to facilitate events, for example partnering with the Bank of America for a panel discussion on ‘Being a Black Man in Corporate America’.
In six months, BEING has officially signed 100 members, launched 15 events and created a platform where colleagues can talk about race, be educated in a safe space and truly see the challenges facing employees of colour.
2) Teik Tan, supply chain lead, Balfour Beatty
As well as co-chairing Balfour Beatty’s (BBY.L) Multi-Cultural & Allies Network since 2018, Teik is a D&I representative on the working groups for site-culture, procurement, finance, hiring manager capability and the overarching D&I working group.
He has reverse-mentored a managing director and has spoken on D&I at events including a company-wide ‘Let’s Talk about Race’ webinar, which was attended by 440 people, and three workshops aimed at the executive leadership teams.
During COVID-19, Teik created fortnightly cross-Affinity Network calls to bring together the LGBTQ+, female, ethnic-minority and disabled communities across Balfour Beatty, giving them a safe virtual space in which to talk.
As an ethnic minority professional with a disability, Teik also hopes to represent intersectionality, and founded Construct-Ability, an industry-leading collaboration between contractors, consultants and institutions, to focus on creating a positive narrative around disabilities within the construction sector.
3) Ambily Banerjee, director, global regulatory affairs, GSK
Since Ambily became co-lead of GSK’s (GSK.L) EMBRACE Employee Resource Group, the impact of her leadership has been felt in several areas.
Mandatory inclusion training has been implemented for almost 100,000 GSK employees; ethnic minority sponsorship programmes have been developed; aspirational targets have been set for senior levels of the organisation; and accountability from the GSK board has been secured to externally publish the firm’s race commitments in its annual report.
Alongside these achievements Ambily has participated in intersectional events to highlight challenges faced by women of colour, orchestrated several high-profile EMBRACE events that lead to 500% membership growth, and collaborated with HR to implement policy changes that would advantage members.
Her efforts outside of GSK include serving as deputy chair of The Network of Networks and as board member for Slough Council Voluntary Services, where she supported the leadership team to deliver impactful work for a diverse community during COVID.
4) Reena Chawla, framework lead — Public Sector & Co-Chair Cultural Diversity Network, Fujitsu
In 2020, Reena has been unwavering in her determination to seek out lived experiences of ethnic minority colleagues, educating and challenging senior leadership, managers and employees and raising awareness of racial equality within Fujitsu (6702.T).
This has resulted in the company launching safe spaces coaches and initiating "Career Ignition" to support ethnic minority talent to take the next step in their career. Additionally, 100% of the UK Leadership Team have participated in reverse-mentoring by someone from a different ethnicity, of which, 60% are ethnic minority women.
Reena leads the Cultural Diversity Network, representing interests whilst creating an inclusive workplace where everyone’s voice is heard. She works tirelessly for the Mentoring Circle initiative, which supports young people — often from a minority ethnic background — who are currently unemployed and helps them to seek employment.
Reena is also working with schools who have a high proportion of ethnic minority children to encourage them into a career in tech.
5) Monique Malcolm-Hay, global programme manager, PwC
Monique co-chairs PwC’s Multicultural Business Network (MBN), an employee network with 1,600+ members, and leads eight regional teams to drive inclusion initiatives internally and with clients.
In 2020, Monique conducted an MBN survey and liaised with senior leaders across the business to support the firm’s response to Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests. She initiated the 'Black experience around the world' series to hear from colleagues across five continents and educate staff on the experiences of black people globally.
She also advocates for intersectionality and leads collaborations between MBN and PwC’s LGBTQI+ network (Shine), Gender Balance network, and Social Mobility network.
Monique co-founded New Gen Accountants (NGA), a non-profit with 3,000+ followers, providing mentorship to predominantly ethnic minorities.
During the pandemic, she liaised with Kaplan to provide scholarships to NGA members. Monique used PwC’s edtech products to upskill 300+ ethnic minorities and helps drive efforts to recruit more black people into artificial intelligence roles.
6) Jina Haynes, vice-president, global client services – client contracting, BlackRock
Since taking over as the Atlanta Office Lead of BlackRock’s (BLK) Black Professionals Network, Jina has: mobilised a group of internal non-Black senior leaders to ideate and brainstorm on strategies to enhance the Black employee experience; created an ‘Ask Me Anything’ series for Black professionals to get exposure to senior leaders in an intimate setting; and generated a pipeline of Black talent to increase representation in sections of the firm lacking Black professionals.
Jina is also currently piloting a training programme for a group of Black professionals in the US to increase representation in the interviewing process. They will be trained on how to conduct a successful interview with a diverse candidate, in conjunction with HR and talent acquisition.
Outside BlackRock, Jina founded the organisation Junior Attorneys, which aims to equip 10 to 14-year-old children from underrepresented communities with the confidence and tools to navigate physical, mental, emotional and social changes.
7) B Pagels-Minor, senior data product manager, Netflix
B has a significant influence on both the content Netflix (NFLX) produces, specifically purchasing and promoting content about Black lives, as well as on the ways in which Netflix operates as a corporation.
They are one of the leaders of Black@ Netflix, a network with approximately 700 members. Black@ was a key resource and planner in the ‘Black Banks’ initiative as well as in the launch of a new historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) internship programme which will see hundreds of HBCU students have the opportunity to learn the skills needed to work at Netflix. The Black@ network has also lead to a significant increase in Black executives throughout every team at the company.
Alongside their role at Netflix, B is on the board of directors for Howard Brown Health, an organisation selected as a strategic partner of the city of Chicago in getting the COVID-19 vaccine to underserved Black and Latinx communities.
8) Derin Bamgbelu, learning and development advisor, GroupM
Within her role as Learning and Development Advisor at GroupM, Derin has promoted ethnic minority diversity and inclusion by designing and delivering a suite of workshops in areas such as conscious hiring and allyship.
These workshops have been presented to almost 3,000 employees across GroupM and WPP. Derin is also the Vice Chair of GroupM's Roots Employee Resource Group, whose members act as representatives of and advocates for ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity. In this position Derin has been involved in shaping policy changes such as enabling the swapping of religious holidays, improving recruitment practices, and creating cultural change through impactful training.
Outside of GroupM, Derin is the founder of ‘Finesse the System’ and the Co-Founder of 'The Wake-Up Call', a collective with over 500 subscribers which share perspectives on topics such as ‘Microaggressions Towards Black Women’, delivering, in the process, insights and actionable ideas to HR and D&I professionals.
9) Minal Mehta, managing consultant, IBM iX
Minal is a recognised leader in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace through engaging employees and, externally, through actively mentoring university and school students to attract diverse talent into pursuing careers in STEAM.
In recognition of Minal's efforts, she was promoted to co-lead of IBM (IBM) UK's BAME Employee Network Group. The group has since increased both membership and ally numbers and expanded focus areas to represent more ethnically diverse employees to encourage a more inclusive environment.
Outside of IBM, Minal is a manager at Soumik Datta Arts, one of the UK's most innovative music and visual arts charities. Recently, she managed “Silent Spaces” – a six part visual album filmed and recorded in lockdown, inside Royal Albert Hall, British Museum and iconic cultural spaces that were shut off to the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. This series features a diverse community of artists, exploring themes including race, identity and colonisation.
10) Akama Davies, director, global solutions and innovation, Xaxis
Akama sits on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) steering committee at Xaxis alongside participating in WPP’s Ethnic and Cultural Employee Resource Group (ERG), Roots.
Among his contributions are the BAME Insight Days he runs for The Media Trust and City University. These Insight Days bring in colleagues from every team, including the C-Suite, to speak to disadvantaged young people about what they can get out of the industry and how the firm will help them get there.
Akama also provides support to an internal committee to run Black History Month campaigns, which to date have included a Diversity Migration Map, a Cultural Food Festival, and a Migration Museum Trip.
Seven years ago, Akama founded his own DEI consultancy organisation called We Are Stripes, with the mission to address the ethnic imbalance in the creative advertising sector through recruitment, consultancy, and events. The consultancy has impacted the careers of over 1,000 BAME creatives.
11) Javad Mushtaq, CEO, co-founder and deputy managing director, JM Ventures, MAK and EAT Foundation
Javad is the Founder and CEO of JM Ventures, Norway's first advisory and impact investment firm operating with the core thesis that diversity is profitable.
JM Ventures has a particular focus on ethnicity and people of colour, and in the last 12 months has advised and mentored over 100 ethnic minority founders, joined the advisory board of over 10 diversity-founded startups and organisations, invested in multiple startups, and set up one venture studio company.
Javad is also the co-founder and CEO of MAK, a multi-award winning systems change organisation on ethnic D&I in Norway and Nordics. In 2021 he co-launched the Nordic CEO Commitment, a pioneering initiative between two leading organisations to accelerate gender and ethnic minority inclusion and get top leader anchoring in the region.
He also serves as the youngest Deputy Managing Director of the EAT Foundation and is setting up the first diverse led investment fund in Norway.
12) Jennifer Kent, associate, Latham & Watkins LLP
Jennifer Kent is an accomplished finance lawyer in the Washington, DC office of Latham & Watkins and has served as a global chair of the firm’s Black Lawyers Group (BLG) for the last two years.
Her work in that role included: adjusting the strategy for recruiting Black candidates; ensuring that substantive pro bono projects on issues of importance to the Black community are provided to Black lawyers; developing initiatives to retain and promote mid- and senior-level Black associates; co-chairing Latham’s global retreat for BLG members; and moderating firm-wide conversations on racial equity and social justice.
Jennifer is also an original member of, and adviser to, The Black BigLaw Pipeline, a non-profit organisation established to promote positive outcomes for Black attorneys in large law firms. She also co-leads Latham’s 'Law Day' partnership with Thurgood Marshall Academy, a predominately Black public charter school in DC, educating students about law, democracy, and civics.
13) Shruti Bahadur, global programme leader, Dow
Shruti is currently the North America (NA) Chair for Asian Diversity Network (ADN) at Dow. In last 2 years, she established governance structure of ADN leadership across NA sites to execute network’s strategy that impacts 1,600+ regional members.
Under Shruti’s guidance, membership of the network grew by 22% in NA in 2020 and five new chapters were established. Under Shruti’s leadership, ADN championed a new leadership development programme in NA for Asian-heritage employees aimed at accelerating their careers by partnering them with senior leaders who served as sponsors.
Shruti recently organised a listening session to hear racial injustice stories from Asian descent employees. These stories inform Dow's strategy to fight racism against Asian descent employees. Shruti is helping to create the strategy.
Shruti is an active member of cross-company ERG Leadership team of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers where she is helping organise the first ever API Women’s Leadership Conference, scheduled for June 2021.
14) Bre McDermott King, international marketing assistant, Sony Music UK
Bre is the diversity lead for Sony Music UK's international inclusion and equity committee, Helping Unite Everyone (HUE). This role sees Bre driving change within the company and ensuring all staff feel seen, heard and supported in all things related to D&I.
In order to achieve this, Bre manages a forum for constructive dialogue and ensures that all matters raised are taken to the boardroom and addressed by senior management.
Within HUE, Bre has spearheaded the D&I agenda and worked with HR to rollout diversity and unconscious bias training across the company, as well as creating partnerships between HR, managers and employees to improve cultural competency through educational events and communication initiatives.
Bre also co-founded and runs a collective called Women Connect, which specialises in creating a safe space and promoting equal opportunities for women, non-binary people and gender-fluid people working in the creative industries and beyond.
15) Belton Flournoy, director, Protiviti
As a director in Protiviti's technology and digital practice, Belton helped to structure, and find an executive sponsor for, Protiviti UK's ProCulture Employee Networking Group (ENG). The goals of the group are to open a dialogue to better respect people's cultural differences; to provide a safe space for discussion; to educate, and to drive change.
Belton also formally provides input into quarterly UK leadership meetings to ensure that diversity and inclusion issues remain a core focus of the organisation.
Outside of Protiviti, Belton sits on the Advisory Board of The Inclusion Initiative, which was founded by the London School of Economics and Political Science with the aim of using behavioural science insights to help firms achieve their diversity and inclusion goals.
Belton has shared the story of his own personal career journey through TLC Lions. His account reached over 250,000 people and has been translated into multiple languages.
16) Wesley J Lai, vice-president, One Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs & Co
In Wesley’s role as the chief of staff for the Asian Professionals Network (APN), he has been raising awareness of the drastic increase in anti-Asian sentiment throughout the Americas and how it impacts the Asian community internally and externally.
Steps he has taken include hosting a dialogue with senior leaders and bringing about a call to action for allyship. Wesley has also planned and developed several Asian Heritage Month celebrations to showcase the diversity of culture and celebrate the achievements of the Asian community, as well as raising awareness of issues it faces.
During COVID-19 workplace closures, Wesley delivered opportunities for the APN to remain connected and network with different areas of the firm in a fully virtual environment. He is currently developing a mentorship pilot for high potential senior vice-presidents in order to support their continued development and strengthen the pipeline for managing director promotion opportunities.
17) Tiffany Woo, director, translational pharmacology clinical operations, Merck & Co
As the global lead of Merck’s (MRK) Asia Pacific Association, Tiffany developed two major solidarity statements and calls to action addressing issues of racial injustice which were adopted by the firm’s Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs) and communicated across the company.
The first, in response to BLM, was ACT: Acknowledge the situation proactively and don’t stay silent; Connect with a colleague and show your solidarity in supporting them; and Talk with your teams.
In response to anti-Asian racism, Tiffany then came up with SAFE: Support Asians in your community; Accept differences; Find commonality; and Educate those around you.
At the EmERGe Leadership Conferences, Tiffany has spoken on the value of EBRGs in a company, and how EBRGs can handle issues of racial injustice. She joined the departmental D&I Committee to share EBRG insight on how to improve processes to be more inclusive.
18) Kelsey Robb, creator manager, TikTok
As the communications manager of the Black Googler Network, one of Google's (GOOG) largest Employee Resource Groups in EMEA, Kelsey was responsible for creating all internal content for the group.
This included writing monthly newsletters communicating progress; creating and executing the comms strategy for events including Black History Month; coordinating regional chapters of the BGN; maintaining the website; and delivering all quarterly town halls.
Alongside her work for the Black Googler Network, Kelsey mentored individuals through programmes such as Google BOLD and the ERG Buddy Programme, and spoke twice at Google's Top Black Talent EMEA, an award-winning diversity initiative to identify and support the best Black students in the UK and across EMEA.
In 2020, Kelsey was awarded the Google Ireland Inspire Award for building an inclusive culture and championing gender diversity in the workplace and beyond.
Kelsey is now a creator manager at TikTok, focused on managing the relationship and growth of top TikTokers from all walks of life.
19) John Valdivia, national trade incentive manager, Anheuser-Busch
Since joining Anheuser-Busch (BUD) in 2003, John has held various positions across the US leading him to his current role as national trade incentive manager.
He is the co-chair and a founding member of AB Inspira (Anheuser-Busch’s Latinx ERG), where he lead activities for Hispanic Heritage Month, including fireside chats with company executives and external speakers.
John is a champion of diversity, using his influence to not only partner with other ERGs within the company but also support AB’s recruiting programmes. He was instrumental in organising an Afro-Latino panel discussion during Black History Month and Latina Empow(her) discussion for Women’s History Month. As a member of the P3 Taskforce he represents AB at networking events to help recruit multi-cultural talent.
Outside of Anheuser-Busch, John is an active member of the VECINOS ERG Collective and Hispanic Star NYC and sits on the board of TechFIN (Technology for Families in Need).
20) Adrianne Pettiford, Ph.D., director of client analytics and compliance, Pymetrics
Adrianne’s achievements in promoting D&I at Pymetrics include the implementation of employee diversity benchmarking, enabling data-informed development and evaluation of D&I strategies. This has resulted in improvements in employee diversity, including a 46% and 229% increases in Black and Hispanic/Latinx employees respectively.
With the People Team, Adrianne launched Pymetrics' Diversity, Inclusion & Engagement Culture Amp Survey. This led to: the identification of key focus areas and the creation of initiatives targeting internal mobility; transparency in decision making; diversity sourcing resources; an Employee Resource Group programme; and anti-racism training.
As a founding member and chair of the Diversity and Inclusion working group, Adrianne collaboratively builds out structure and process to support the sustainability of successful D&I initiatives.
Beyond Pymetrics, Adrianne speaks regularly on the value of leveraging data and machine learning tools to address D&I challenges in workplaces and on understanding, identifying, preventing, and correcting the ways algorithms may contribute to employment discrimination.
Rachel Welch-Phillips, associate, Bird & Bird LLP
Rachel is the founder and co-chair of Bird & Bird’s multicultural network Embrace, through which she has carried out vital work to drive the charge for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
Embrace was recognised by the UK Diversity Legal Awards 2019 as the Outstanding Multicultural Employee Network of the Year for its work in tackling barriers faced by minority communities within the workplace.
Rachel is also a public speaker at local councils, universities, non-profit organisations and private company events where she has shared her journey to law and advocates for greater awareness of black history in Britain. She is also an active mentor and believes that visibility is key to achieving greater representation of black women in the law.
Rachel has been recognised as the Under 35 Woman of the Year at the Inspirational Women in Law Awards 2018, and as the Future Leader Minority Lawyer at the Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Europe Awards 2019.
Yvonne Kunihira-Davidson, EMEA commercial lead, tax solutions, IHS Markit
Yvonne is co-chair of the IHS Markit CEO's Advisory Board on Diversity & Inclusion. She is a founding member of the EMpower Employee Resource Group (ERG) and sits on the steering committee.
In addition to recruiting colleagues to the ERG, she's hosted several panels discussing difficult topics such as microaggressions and being an active bystander. Yvonne led the company’s partnership with SEO London, resulting in a significant increase in the diversity of graduates from ethnic minorities and low socioeconomic backgrounds.
Yvonne supported the Ubuntu ERG through mentoring, hosting sharing circles, running external events, and piloting inclusive culture training, which is being rolled out globally. Working in partnership with colleagues from the Engage ERG, Yvonne co-designed a collaborative mentoring programme for senior leaders, which is currently being implemented.
Outside of work, Yvonne sits on the steering committee of The Network of Networks (TNON), a community of 100+ organizations including FTSE companies.
Vincent Egunlae, public sector consultant, Grant Thornton UK LLP
As a first-year, Vincent founded and is the head of GT’s first Ethnicity Network, which aims to reduce the ethnicity pay gap and increase representation at the top level.
The network now comprises 550+ members, the firm's largest, and Vincent sits on the Ethnicity Network board, made up of some of the firm’s most senior employees.
In the wake of George Floyd's death, Vincent presented a plan to all partners and directors on what needed to be done within the organisation to create change. Vincent is also on GT’s Inclusion Advisory board, which advises the strategic leadership team on operational and strategic decisions.
Outside work, Vincent is the co-founder of The Open Private School, a charity which provides state-school educated students with some of the intangible benefits of a private education, matching elite mentors with young adults from state-school backgrounds, providing succour through workshops and an alumni network.
Sherita Lee, director, global talent & leadership, Merck & Co
In 2019, Sherita became the global leader of Merck’s League of Employees of African Descent (LEAD). She has positively impacted the membership and fostered a culture of inclusion within Merck.
Under her leadership, several career development initiatives were implemented: the reimagining of LEAD’s mentorship programme, developing special assignments for LEAD members, and launching the first LEADership Development Summit, impacting 150 members.
LEAD has established an HBCU Council and Allyship Program and formed a Diversity in Clinical Trials committee to bring insights regarding black patients to the organisation.
Sherita has held positions across three divisions of Merck and recently expanded the breadth of her experience as the director of Merck’s Key Talent Programs.
In addition to serving on several community boards, she is the founder of Suite Dreams, a non-profit providing students with support as they start their collegiate journey. Sherita is a servant leader and her contributions are motivated by her desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
Omar Ahmed, product transfer and new product introductions manager, GSK
In 2020, Omar engaged GSK’s Chairman of the Board and gained commitment to further diversify the Board, include race and ethnicity targets in the annual report and to implement annual mandatory inclusion training for the Board and the CET.
Omar also drove the progress of GSK’s race and ethnicity agenda as a member of the Global Ethnicity Council, developing objectives with clear tangible actions. His ongoing collaboration with HR shaped and developed global I&D and talent programmes, including introducing new mandatory I&D training, refreshed leadership training and an Inclusion Dialogue toolkit to help teams have impactful and action focussed conversations about inclusion.
Omar also worked with HR to update GSK's Covid-19 guidelines to ensure that ethnically diverse individuals were not facing a greater environmental risk to COVID-19, and partnered with HR, R&D and the Black British Business Awards to run a pilot talent programme for ethnic minority talent within R&D.
Felix Wong, executive assistant to the chief operating officer, Allianz UK
Felix co-founded and now leads the Employee Network for Race and International Cultural Heritage (ENRICH) at Allianz (ALV.DE) UK.
In this role, he led work which drove Allianz and LV= to sign the Race at Work Charter, and, to ensure ongoing momentum, helped establish a Race at Work Group bringing together senior managers with the authority to make structural and policy changes.
Felix’s other achievements include co-authoring a comprehensive ‘Race at Work’ survey to truly understand the working experience of minority colleagues through qualitative and quantitative feedback, as well as ensuring that the ‘Return to Office’ survey specifically took account of employees’ ethnicity, and addressed concerns over COVID mortality rates for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups.
He was also responsible for initiating the collection of employee ethnicity data within Allianz and advising on changes to ethnicity categorisation. In February 2021, Felix cofounded the Global Race and Cultural Ethnicity network (GRACE) for the global Allianz Group.
Uche Monu, project leader, Boston Consulting Group
As a Project Leader at Boston Consulting Group, Uche has been a key member of the Racial Equity Task Force and BCG’s Black and Latinx affinity network. While on BCG’s Racial Equity Task Force, Uche was responsible for supporting process management of racial equity initiatives, such as increasing diverse representation and instituting accountability measures.
Uche played a key role in spearheading the launch of BCG’s first public diversity, equity and inclusion report in March 2021. In this role, she managed the development of the report’s design and structure, including contributing as a writer and editor.
Uche serves as a West Coast Node of BCG’s Black and Latinx Network and helps develop and execute on programming.
A doctoral alumna of Stanford University, Uche continues to support the DARE (Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence) Doctoral Fellowship Program, by serving as an industry resource for current fellows looking to explore opportunities outside of academia.
Dennis Owusu-Sem, oversight relationship manager, BMO Global Asset Management
Dennis founded Success Talks, which has hosted 35 live experiences to support the career progression of ethnic minorities. To date, there have been over 4,500 registrations, 169,000 YouTube views & 130 speakers. Additionally, Success Talks has held bespoke workshops for senior leadership teams across the UK to improve their understanding of racial challenges at work.
In 2020, Dennis spearheaded the BMO GAM Black History month celebration, which was one of company’s best internally attended events. Furthermore, during a series of workshops, Dennis advocated to elicit the barriers to progression for BMO’s ethnic minority employees worldwide. This led to the implementation of BMO’s ‘Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025’ plan.
Following the 2020 BLM protests, Dennis was recognised as a “Top 25 Black British Business Leader to Follow” by Forbes and was invited to speak on BBC World News alongside Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE to discuss tackling racial inequality in the workforce.
Carol Fergus, global travel, events & ground transportation manager, Fidelity International
At Fidelity International, Carol is a core member of the Cultural Diversity Working Group. Carol has been integral to the development of the ‘Talking about Race at Work’ toolkit, which equips employees to have difficult conversations about race.
She lead and participated in focus groups on employees' personal experiences of race at work, which enabled Fidelity to develop its Cultural Diversity Action Plan.
Meanwhile, by pushing for supplier diversity, Carol has contributed to the implementation of programmes which will fundamentally change the way Corporate Property Services work with suppliers, requiring them to share their views and policies regarding ethnic minority owned businesses, and developing a programme to provide a training, learning and mentoring structure for employees and contractors.
In the wider sector, Carol is vice chair for the Global Business Travel Association’s Diversity Equality & Inclusion Committee and is co-lead for the Travel and Meetings Society’s Diversity, Inclusion and Equity group
Nigell Todd, director, global foreign exchange, Fidelity International
The Core Culture group at Fidelity International evolved following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. Nigell is one of the members providing input to senior management to formulate the company's Cultural Diversity Action Plan and plays a lead role in the Ireland Culture group, implementing the global objectives at a local level.
In addition, Nigell has volunteered his time a D&I Champion with The Finance Hive Network and has used his influence to ensure D&I was included at the organisation’s annual members’ conference.
Nigell is currently working with The Finance Hive to create an annual calendar covering all facets of D&I through workshops and roundtables, driving forward an online 'D&I Resource Hub', as well as acting as a D&I Champion to offer support to individuals within The Finance Hives Network of over 500 individuals, representing over 300 asset managers and hedge funds.
Ademola Bamgbose, international arbitration associate, Hogan Lovells, London
Ademola is an international arbitration lawyer in the London office of Hogan Lovells. He is a member of the firm’s Africa practice and admitted to practice in Nigeria, England and Wales.
He is a founding member of the steering committee of the BAME group at Hogan Lovells — this allows him to play a front seat role in driving the firm’s diversity agenda and increase awareness on issues relating to race and ethnicity. Amongst the many initiatives driven by Ademola and his team is a reciprocal mentoring programme where he pairs members of the BAME group with other members of the firm.
Ademola regularly mentors and speaks at events designed to encourage ethnic minority individuals both within and outside London to apply for positions at leading law firms.
Dr Bamgbose is founder and director of a number of external organisations designed to encourage increased participation of ethnic minority lawyers in international arbitration.
Ajay Mistry, head of digital sales & marketing, Clear Insurance Management Ltd
Ajay is co-founder and co-chair of iCAN, the Insurance Cultural Awareness Network, an industry-wide network with over 2,000 members and sponsored by 20 companies across the insurance industry.
Throughout lockdown, Ajay has driven colleagues in his industry to continue to attend events and network – including launching a new virtual forum for staff network leaders in the insurance industry called iCANConnect.
With his committee, he also promoted a series of activities following the BLM protests, and promoted ethnic minority staff onto external panel events. Having recently joined Clear Insurance, Ajay is looking forward to working with the operating board to support people of colour and develop new internal staff networks, taking all his previous D&I knowledge and feeding it into a new business.
Outside of his role with Clear Insurance, Ajay also sits on the Chartered Insurance Institute Board of the Society of Insurance Broking as well as the Shadow Board of Inclusion@Lloyds.
Joseph Ham-Silvestre, strategy and experience manager, SAP Labs California, SAP
Joseph is currently leading the Pride@SAP California group and member of Latinos@SAP and Business Women’s Network. His community engagement and recruitment work has included underrepresented student events for organisations like Code2040 and Students Rising Above.
He’s taken part in Diversity Careers Expositions together with Latinx student organisations, while leading SAP Tech Treks for Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers chapters across the West Coast.
Many efforts undertaken by Joseph emphasise intersectionality within the Latinx experience, considering ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, and class. His work resulted in boosting talent pipelines and systematising networking and mentorship opportunities between SAP colleagues and young BIPOC populations.
Beyond his role at SAP, Joseph has spoken at first-generation conferences, diversity summits, and LGBTQ+ hackathons. He currently serves as a Programming Director for the Out 4 Undergrad Tech Conference, collaborating in conference programming specifically targeting underrepresented groups launching their tech careers.
Reha Kansara, reporter, BBC News
Much of Reha’s work as a journalist focuses on digital human rights and identity. She has presented a BBC Three documentary about British minorities being told to 'go back to where they came from', reported on Black Lives Matter, coronavirus disinformation, and used her own family history to look at the idea of home and identity amongst British diasporas.
Reha was recently appointed to the BBC’s ‘Next Generation’ panel 2021-2022, working with board members to lobby for change and inclusivity amongst younger colleagues within the organisation. She is also a member of the BBC's oldest staff-led network, Embrace, which represents people from ethnic minority backgrounds. She is now working as a correspondent in Nairobi.
Toib Olomowewe, organisational development & learning manager, Royal Dutch Shell
Toib is a committee member of the Shell (RDSB.L) UK African and Caribbean Network. In 2020, he facilitated numerous ‘Let's Talk About Race’ workshops with executive leadership teams, leading to ethnicity action plans in every function where they were delivered.
As the network lead on advocacy and influencing company policy, Toib contributed to the Country Chair's new 10-point Action Plan to address ethnic minority inequality, which included recruitment ambitions specifically for Black talent, and senior leader sponsorship of a development programme for BAME progression.
As a line manager, Toib received top quartile scores for team leadership and D&I, with exceptionally high scores relating to inclusion. Toib is also an advisory board member at the Ramadan Tent Project. There he developed the HR and D&I policies and advised on their engagement approach, which has now reached over 200,000 people from all backgrounds across the UK.
Haafiz Suleman, senior associate, Clifford Chance LLP
Descended from East African exiles following the Idi Amin expulsion, Haafiz is a senior associate member of the Clifford Chance (CC) REACH Network's Steering Committee, leading the firm's Client Engagement pillar.
REACH's influence has been significant, and CC has in the last year adopted its first minority ethnicity targets for the US and UK.
Within his practice, Haafiz has acted in a high profile public inquiry and (with others) fought hard for the evidence of witnesses on BME issues to be heard. He has spoken extensively on D&I issues both to internal audiences and external industry leaders, and sits on an internal working group charged with improving ethnic minority experiences.
In October 2020, Haafiz was a key promoter of CC's South Asian Heritage Month and, using his platform as a member of the London Committee of the CC Foundation, has supported funding for a number of charities promoting BME issues.
Renee Cummins, director, head of compliance risk management, Deutsche Bank
As Co-Chair of Deutsche Bank’s (DBK.DE) Black Leadership Forum employee resource group, Renee has implemented impactful initiatives, like the ‘Real Talk’ open conversation series and the ‘Get To Know You’ programme that connects BLF members with senior executive leaders globally.
She was a key advisor to the Americas CEO during the creation of the US D&I plan in 2020. Renee was instrumental in championing and defining the dbBOLD programme launched in September 2020 for Black Vice Presidents based in the US.
Renee also facilitated the expansion of the D&I ethnic minority strategy by liaising with colleagues in UK&I and Germany and sharing best practices. As the Corporate Bank’s People Strategy Inclusion lead, she drove the implementation of a targeted strategy to successfully improve the recruitment and retention of diverse talent.
Outside of Deutsche Bank, Renee co-leads The Collective, an organisation dedicated to creating opportunities for Black professionals in the finance industry.
Nilesh Solanki, secure data and power platform UK Lead, PwC
In his position as the founder and leader of the PwC Hindu Network, Nilesh positively influences people internally and externally to deliver the firm's strategic priorities.
His dynamic team in the Network benefits from Nilesh’s leadership and mentoring in its delivery of high profile events promoting the firm’s D&I agenda. As well as offering support to members of the community, Nilesh provides events, activities and information on relevant topics, creates opportunities for members to contribute and seeks feedback on what additional offerings they would value.
Events Nilesh has been involved in organising include ‘Diwali Celebrations for All’, ‘Chai with a Leader’ sessions, Yoga Day and International Women’s Day. He has recently joined the PwC UK India Group, helping clients accelerate their growth in both of these two markets.
Outside of PwC, Nilesh has held various responsibilities such as advisory board member for National Hindu Students' Forum UK, the largest Hindu student body in Europe, and the Assistant General Secretary for Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK, which supports 130 youth activity centres across 60 towns, with a weekly attendance of 2,000.
Shreeya Paudel, client relationship manager, Aviva Investors
Throughout her time on the leadership team of Aviva’s gender parity organisation Balance, Shreeya has continued to highlight the role that race plays in gender disparity. Driving a strategic direction that focuses on the intersectionality between gender inequity and systemic racial issues, Shreeya has been pushing for policies like the creation of a diverse talent pipeline for leadership through The RISE Initiative.
She is also part of the Origins Working Group which aims to understand issues affecting minority groups and asks for tangible change at a faster pace. The group has been challenging the leadership team up to the executive level to improve transparency on the data around ethnic minority progression.
Another of Shreeya’s initiatives has been running workshops for heads of departments and directors, imploring them to understand how modesty culture in minorities might lead to a lack of leadership opportunities, and prompting them to explore practical solutions.
Kalyani Martinelango, associate R&D director, core R&D, Dow
Having been an active member of Dow's Asian Diversity Network (ADN) for the last 10 years, Kalyani is currently serving as its Global Chair. In this position, she led ADN through its global expansion, creating a greater impact for European and Asian colleagues.
Over the past two years, she oversaw the launch of six new chapters and increased participation by 70% to over 4,400. She recently championed a sponsorship programme to help with the advancement of Asian employees from mid-level managers to directors and beyond.
Recently, Kalyani worked with the Dow CEO office to issue a statement condemning the increased violence against Asians in the US and led her team’s action plan to address the issue and elevate awareness of the challenges faced by Asian colleagues and to positively highlight contributions made by the Asian community.
Kalyani has served as speaker and panelist for several events, both internal and external.
Monica Michaan, senior manager, brand and corporate marketing, FiscalNote
Since joining FiscalNote, Monica has passionately championed diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in her role. As a Latina working in the tech space, she realised that there is a huge opportunity to shine light on and empower other Latinx community members. Within Monica’s first eight months at FiscalNote, she jumped at the chance to lead a cross-functional initiative to spotlight Hispanic Heritage Month, which included hosting virtual events and penning a personal essay — La Mescolanza.
Born in Costa Rica to a Nicaraguan mother and Egyptian Jewish father, Monica experienced a dynamic and vibrant culture at home. Growing up in the Congo, Angola, Cambodia, Haiti, and Vietnam before moving to the US developed her intense appreciation of multiculturalism, which has fuelled her pursuit of workplace inclusion.
Monica’s other D&I work includes her participation in Women in Government Relations’s (WGR) DEI Taskforce and co-leading marketing for WGR’s DEI Summit.
Justina Omotayo, business development manager, Slaughter and May
As a member of the Steering Committee for Slaughter and May’s ethnicity and social mobility network, DIVERSE, Justina has led on a number of BAME inclusion initiatives. In this capacity she has chaired a peer-to-peer listening group for ethnic minority employees and implemented mandatory supervisor training to improve the experiences of BAME trainee solicitors.
Following the killing of George Floyd, Justina spearheaded the firm’s response, working on its Race Fairness Action Plan to embed and drive racial equality with a focus on recruitment, retention and promotion. Other initiatives included organising an internal event for Black colleagues to share their lived experiences, and delivering a series of unconscious bias trainings.
As well as organising the first firm-wide Race Equality Week campaign, Justina was responsible for 2019-20’s Black History Month activities, which saw record breaking attendance. The ‘Inclusion Allies’ training she designed to raise awareness of micro-behaviours was rolled out to clients in 2020.
Rabya Akhtar, workplace relationship manager, Phoenix Group
As founding co-chair of MOSAIC, Phoenix Group’s BAME network, Rabya leads a diverse UK-wide committee (including senior leaders) to actively drive D&I initiatives, delivering impact for colleagues, her business and local communities.
She’s hosted leading academics and thought leaders to discuss Black Lives Matter and systemic racism, which has directly impacted the company’s response to these issues. She co-led a powerful session for International Women’s Day, where she hosted a conversation with Dr. Kamel Hothi and the Group CEO.
Rabya is instrumental in driving social and cultural awareness by organising a programme of events and communications to encourage colleagues to learn about steps they can take to support BAME colleagues.
Outside of work, Rabya is an active member of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group for Racial Equality and part of YWCA Scotland. Throughout 2020 she worked closely with Parliament to produce the Young Women Lead Report 2019/2020 on the education-employment transition for young BAME women.
Oscar Rodriguez, senior product manager, London Stock Exchange Group
Under Oscar’s leadership, the LSEG Multicultural Network grew from just five members in 2019 to over 100 by the end of 2020. He puts this accomplishment down to the successful coordination of several cultural events.
For the US Hispanic Heritage Month, the network hosted a Latinx lunch. For the Global Hispanic Heritage Month, they spotlighted Latinx employees, ran salsa lessons and hosted panel discussions. And for the US Black History Month, they discussed the critical roles played by African-Americans on Wall Street.
After first getting involved with D&I as a member of JP Morgan’s Latino network, Oscar has since begun exploring external organisations addressing these issues. He recently served as a junior board member for El Museo del Barrio, where he engaged young artists and recruited supporters, and he donates annually to the Hispanic Heritage Fund to ensure kids are able to attend college.
Celia Fraser, Insights and Analytics Lead, Capital Group
Following Celia’s revamp of the Capital Associates of African Descent (CAAD) European network, membership has doubled to 86 associates.
Celia and the core team both provide educational material on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and run events promoting DEI. ‘Racism: A European Lens’, an event she instigated, brought together 250 Europe-based associates to share first-hand their experiences of racism.
For Black History Month 2020, alongside the core team, Celia compiled a programme with guests including Professor David Olusoga, attracting 750 attendees. She also moderated a DEI panel event featuring John Amaechi in December 2020.
Outside Capital Group, Celia is a Corporate Advisor on the Advisory Board for Cowrie Scholarship Foundation, which aims to fund disadvantaged Black British students through UK universities. Separately, alongside a former classmate, she has pioneered a mentoring scheme at her secondary school to provide practical educational support, empowerment and positive representation for African and Caribbean-descent students.
Martin Pong, product manager - payments, Bottomline Technologies
Having noticed a lack of visible gay East and South East Asian role models in his own life, Martin has championed role modelling as a way of raising awareness of intersectional identities, in particular LGBT+ people of colour.
In his previous job roles, Martin acted as Global Chair of the LGBT+ Network, Advisor on the Global Racial and Ethnic Diversity Committee and also worked with various Executive Leadership teams to launch new diversity networks and initiatives.
With this impressive track record, Martin continues to openly speak and write about his intersectional experiences to combat the underrepresentation of LGBT+ East and South East Asian communities.
In the wake of increasing Covid-related anti-Asian hate crimes, Martin has focussed on educating people across industries about the model minority stereotyping and micro-aggressions affecting Asian people both inside and outside of the workplace.
Thevani Ravindran, assistant engineer, Atkins
Atkins’ BAME committee EMBRACE developed a new focus in 2020 following the death of George Floyd.
As the committee’s communications lead, Thevani was involved in holding a live ‘Race & Discrimination’ discussion and setting up a conversation within Atkins to provide an honest and open platform where employees could share stories and educate each other.
This conversation, the first of its kind in the company, was attended by around 800 participants and ended up being replicated by Atkins America. The list of events Thevani has facilitated for Atkins includes ‘Decolonising Our Lives’, ‘Black Heroes of Mathematics!’ and ‘EMBRACE Refugees’ as well as leading a range of events for Black History Month 2020.
She set up a BAME Guiding Group focused on a BAME ally programme and a stakeholder engagement initiative. Thevani is also is a champion for the Rail Industry Association and Women in Rail EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) Charter Working Group.
Steven Asifo, manager, information security risk, Verizon Media
On a monthly basis, Steven meets with the chief technology officer of Verizon (VZ) to talk about creating organisational DEI goals and to call for support in bringing additional opportunities to underrepresented groups.
As a steering committee member on the Human Capital Management team, Steven also works to ensure diversity and inclusion is integrated into the lifecycle of the security team. To this end the team rolled out DE&I training to all 198 employees in the department last year and held ‘Expanding Allyship’ workshops for all 40 people leaders.
In addition, Steven’s team created a ‘Brave Spaces’ series as way of holding intentional conversations about ethnic diversity and inclusion within the organisation and the larger Information Security field. Following the event, feedback was collected and the results were passed on to senior leadership as priority issues needing to be addressed.
Elisha St Hilaire, project Manager, Aon
Elisha has driven the conversation at Aon (AON) around race and ethnicity in the workplace, serving as co-chair of both the Multicultural Network and D&I Data Task Force, as well as participating in the Diversity Council and UK Inclusive Leadership Council.
The listening sessions she arranged following George Floyd's murder will continue throughout 2021 as a platform for Black colleagues to share their lived experiences with senior leaders to improve their cultural competence and awareness.
Another initiative Elisha is supporting this year will be the outreach skills workshops Aon are organising for ethnic minority community leaders seeking to provide necessary skills, training on a variety of topics so we can better understand how to support the Black community.
Elisha has gained recognition both internally and externally for her work in D&I at Aon and the insurance sector, including winning a We Are the City ‘Rising Star in Diversity’ Award in 2016.
Kajal Chhapia, consultant, Oliver Wyman
Kajal recently joined Oliver Wyman as a consultant but prior to that was one of a team of five developing the Bank of England’s ethnicity targets for 2021-2025. The team developed a proposal to increase ethnicity recruitment targets to improve ethnic minority representation, particularly at senior levels.
Kajal was also responsible for organising the most attended in-person event in the BAME network's history for Diwali in 2019, and leading an initiative providing professional headshots to ethnic minority staff to support building their brand both internally and externally.
Outside of the Bank of England, Kajal is the founder and director of 'Divercity', a non-profit organisation committed to championing diversity in finance and consulting.
Taslima Parvin-Kabir, director, talent development, Day One Agency
During Taslima's tenure at Day One Agency, she designed learning programmes and DE&I initiatives that enhanced the agency’s culture of belonging and journey towards creating equitable growth. She curated a Leadership Academy programme for all levels of the organisation which focused on educating teams on DE&I and equipping them with the tools to take action for change. She partnered with leadership in reviewing policies and programmes to ensure that they were in line with Day One’s commitment to being actively anti-racist.
Taslima spearheaded the company’s DE&I action plan which includes ongoing commitments to cultivate diversity, equity, and inclusion across three pillars: Recruit, Advance, and Retain and Engage. As a result of Taslima’s work the diversity of Day One’s team reached 31% ethnic minority representation in 2020, up 4% on the previous year.
Abhishek Kulkarni, product manager, Centrica
After being appointed the chair of VOICE (Centrica’s Ethnicity Network) in 2020, Abhishek now leads a team of 15 employees driving the company's agenda in matters relating to race, culture, and identity. From this position Abhishek launched the first company-wide ethnicity survey, which reached 1,000 colleagues and lead to the implementation of mandatory unconscious bias training.
He also rolled out ‘Listen & Learn’ sessions to gain a deeper understanding of the lived realities of race in the workplace; this blueprint gave rise to independent interviews to develop further awareness of ethnic minority experiences at Centrica (CNA.L).
Following his own experience of attending a graduate assessment centre which lacked diversity, Abhishek has pushed for all employee networks to be represented at every graduate assessment centre. The impact of Abhishek’s work can be seen in the improved BAME representation within the 2021 Commercial Marketing cohort, which went from 0% to 40%.
Jennie Koo, head of operations risk management, Capital One
Intersectionality is a key focus that Jennie has been driving into conversations since joining Capital One (COF) in late 2018. Recognising that a focus on ethnicity alone will not be enough to address the changes that are required, Jennie has been providing a social mobility lens to the organisation’s initiatives.
The ‘Privilege Walk’ exercises she organised raised awareness of the different levels of privilege existing within the firm’s own teams, whilst the community engagement workstream aimed to role model within schools and charities in order to tackle challenges to social mobility.
Another of Jennie’s initiatives and focus was establishing open conversations on Racism towards East Asians to raise awareness this was happening and ensuring that the mental health implications of the increase in anti-Asian racism are built into any return-to-office initiatives.
As a director on the board of Women in Banking & Finance, Jennie brings ethnicity into focus within the gender conversation.
Macky O'Sullivan, senior associate, King & Spalding
As co-chair of the African American Affinity Group at King & Spalding, Macky has spearheaded initiatives that have helped improve diversity and inclusion at the firm.
Macky is responsible for the creation of a firm-wide mentoring programme, through which university students in African Caribbean Student Societies are paired with lawyers in the firm to act as their mentors and help them realise their full potential. The programme has helped mentees successfully secure various internships and training contracts.
Externally, Macky is the founder of Fireside Talks, an organisation which arranges workshops aimed at encouraging ethnic minority students at universities across the UK to pursue a career in law. Macky also serves as the policy and legal adviser of Enact Equality, a not-for-profit focused on promoting legislation to support race equality.
Sonjii Ivey, director, BNY Mellon Pershing
Sonjii is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion and is recognised for her commitment to building an inclusive workforce. She serves in a leadership capacity for the BNY Mellon DiverseTech Employee Resource Group and has presented D&I recommendations to executive management.
She is a lead for Women in Technology New Jersey initiatives. Sonjii has organised and moderated multiple D&I panels such as 'Voices of Innovation – Black Women in Technology for IMPACT', 'Algorithmic Bias and its Impact on Communities', and 'Business for Women in Technology'. In 2021 she moderated a panel on The Black Family in support of Black History Month.
Sonjii leads courageous conversations for the Technology Product Management team and runs D&I workshops to engage associates and raise awareness. She mentors diverse students for the Big Sisters and Brothers programme of Essex, Union and Hudson counties. She supports recruitment efforts that promote BNY Mellon as the employer of choice among technologists of colour.
Jack Van Cooten, senior research specialist (digital), Oliver Wyman
Jack oversees the inclusion and diversity initiatives of more than ten different countries as the EMEA lead of EMPOWERED, Oliver Wyman’s racial and ethnic diversity network. In addition to continually role modelling and advocating for diverse colleagues, Jack has presented to over 1,000 Oliver Wyman employees at a ‘Being Black in 2020’ conference and has spoken on inclusion to 120 CEOs and executives.
As senior research specialist, earlier this year he was also involved in developing the governance and oversight capabilities of the UK's Digital Identity market. His work will contribute towards increasing financial inclusion among the 1.3m unbanked people in the UK and reducing financial crime.
In his spare time, Jack runs music events company and record label Banana Hill, hosting music events and performing in more than ten countries. Jack is also an Independent Visitor for a young person in the care system through the children’s charity, Barnardo’s.
Adobea Atsrefi, third party governance officer, personal insurance, AIG UK
Adobea was recently appointed co-chair of the International General Insurance Talent Diversity Council, a shadow management board, where Adobea aims to help advise and shape the talent strategy. In May 2020, Adobea launched the African and Caribbean Network & Allies (ACN), to address issues faced by AIG’s Afro-Caribbean employees and implement initiatives to improve racial inequalities.
ACN representatives hosted a UK-wide town hall, where Adobea provided a platform to discuss the issues faced by the community and suggest improvements. Through the ACN, Adobea was able to work with the executive team towards AIG signing up to BITC’s Race at Work Charter and partnering with ‘10,000 Black Interns’ to offer internship positions.
For the past two years, Adobea has also been the financial secretary of the London chapter of The Links, Incorporated, a charitable organisation focused on advancing education and relieving unemployment, especially within the Afro-Caribbean community.
Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy, senior digital product manager, Barclays
As co-chair of Barclays’ (BARC.L) Black Professionals Forum, Zainab is responsible for shaping the group’s strategy as well as engaging senior leaders from across the firm to develop Barclays’ wider Race agenda.
In her previous role as deputy chair she oversaw career progression and colleague development initiatives, including an internal colleague mentoring programme and personal development workshops. Zainab also acts as co-lead for the Black Professionals Forum’s Sixth Form mentoring programme, which delivers development workshops to students from South East London, pairing them with a mentor within Barclays and offering them work experience with the aim of creating a diverse talent pipeline.
Outside of Barclays, Zainab is one of eight authors that make up the A Quick Ting On (2021) book series which will explore topics relating to Black British history and culture. In 2020 she won the category of Rising Star in Financial Services at the Black British Business Awards.
Arzu Ozdemir, strategy associate, human resources, AIG
Arzu Ozdemir joined AIG in 2018 and is a strategy associate in the Human Resources Chief Operating Office in New York. At AIG, Arzu also works to raise awareness about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as part of the leadership team for the New York Latino Network Employee Resource Group (ERG), one of more than 130 such groups at AIG worldwide.
As an ERG member, Arzu helps promote inclusive dialogue through panel discussions, most recently speaking about the challenges of being a Middle Eastern woman in Corporate America and how to overcome them.
In addition, Arzu serves on the board of Diverse Influencers, a non-profit professional development organisation for diverse students in the City University of New York system. She teaches participants early on about the career opportunities and resources available to them, along with the soft skills that support a successful career in the corporate world.
Simran Mohnani, operations consulting analyst, Deloitte
Outside of her day job as an Industry4.0 consultant, Simran is the Chair of Codename MAXINE: a community of 90+ people aiming to uplift women and underrepresented groups working with MuleSoft and Technology Integrations.
The ‘Inclusive Tech Terminology’ initiative launched by MAXINE was designed to convert racially charged, gendered and ableist words into more inclusive alternatives. The project is now being rolled out across the Business Operations team of 1,500 consultants, with Deloitte developing a new ‘Inclusivity in Tech’ People & Purpose pillar to sponsor MAXINE's work.
Simran is also a co-founder of Deloitte’s Speak-Up pillar and leads the production of a monthly educational series called ‘Keeping It Real’, which was rolled out across 7,000 employees as a means for colleagues to share lived experiences of discrimination. The D&I blog she co-created and now edits serves to spotlight BAME people and projects, diversifying the team’s feeds and facilitating shared learning.
Deon Pillay, head of marketing operations, Legal and General Investments
Deon’s work on numerous D&I initiatives at Legal and General Investments has increased awareness, improved internal policy and created more opportunities for ethnic minority groups.
Alongside mentoring junior ethnic minority employees and reverse mentoring senior colleagues, Deon has been holding candid conversations with LGIM leadership which have resulted in the development of a Global D&I Council and a commitment from senior leaders to drive change.
Deon also worked with HR to ensure company policies supported all marginalised communities and contained inclusive language, and in 2020 he ran a ‘Racial Equality’ social media campaign.
Another initiative Deon played a key role in developing was ‘Follow the Money’, a scheme designed to give children from ethnic minority or poor socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to explore asset management. This initiative has now been rolled out by LGIM’s Socio-Economic Committee and will continue on an annual basis in the future.
Jasmine Cruz, account strategy supervisor, Praytell
Jasmine is an account strategy supervisor at Praytell by day and head of marketing & brand strategy for InHerShoes Movement by night. She's a champion for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, catalyst of courage, and advocate for dogs at work.
She leads with compassion and curiosity, applying her DE&I expertise to any challenge that comes her way in a client partner, community activist, and mentor capacity.
With over six years of experience in marketing and advertising and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Marketing & Consulting, she’s dedicated her work towards uplifting misrepresented communities within the workplace and is committed to partnering with brands in reflecting the beautiful range of identities in all marketing communications. Her current efforts support the People, Allyship, Culture, and Trust (PACT) team at Praytell and service the InHerShoes Movement community in driving action and dialogue around DE&I.
Bernard Adjei, lead project manager, Lloyds Banking Group
Bernard is part of Lloyds’ (LLOY.L) Black Organisation Leadership Development (BOLD) network and a committee member of the Chartered Banking Institute (CBI). In 2016 he launched the bank’s RISE initiatives, designed to inspire and empower disadvantaged young people, providing them with the employability skills they need to access a career in banking.
Following its initial success, the RISE (Reach Inspire Support Empower) programme has now been rolled out to more than 10 colleges across London, Manchester, Leeds and Wales. It has supported over 350 students over the last two years, and 800 overall, through CV workshops, work experience schemes and internship opportunities. During the pandemic it launched an Online Programme Curriculum to keep providing BAME students with access to key resources, role models and learning opportunities virtually.
For two consecutive years, Bernard has topped the Lloyds Banking Group’s Inspire List in recognition of his achievements within the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Network.
Dipti Kulkarni, vice-president, senior business support manager, Bank of America
Kulkarni is a business support manager for the consumer, small business and wealth management technology team at Bank of America. An advocate for diversity and inclusion for almost a decade, she received Bank of America’s Global Diversity and Inclusion award in 2019.
An active member of the bank’s Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Development (LEAD) for Women group, she recently was a panelist at an event to inspire women to raise their voice and encourage men to be allies. She actively mentors young, diverse female talent from multiple universities to encourage their pursuit of careers in technology.
Her other work to advance ethnic minority diversity and inclusion has included organizing an event called ‘Courageous Conversation: Coming together against racism’ hosted by the Asian Leadership Network, the Black Professional Group, and the Hispanic/Latino Organization for Leadership and Advancement.
As a recognised artist and poet, Kulkarni recently interviewed with ShoutOutLA.
Janet Onyia, project & programme manager, Accenture
Janet specialises in technology delivery and transformation within financial services, successfully leading complex large-scale projects and programmes.
Within a few months of joining Accenture, Janet spearheaded the inaugural Black History Month event in Scotland, as lead for the Accenture African Caribbean Network (AACN) in the region. Her motivation for establishing a role as the AACN regional lead was to create a community for Black colleagues closer to home, so they could feel part of the network when away from its epicentre in the London HQ. Alongside her AACN role, Janet co-leads I&D for the Accenture Scotland office, setting the strategy and empowering her brilliant teams to deliver on disability, ethnicity, gender and pride initiatives.
Outside Accenture Janet runs ONYI (a gifting concierge and lifestyle brand championing female-led independent businesses), and she’s a Board member for the Black Professionals Scotland social enterprise advising on and establishing their technology strategy.
Bryant Krongard, vice-president, IMD Product Controllers, Goldman Sachs & Co
Bryant’s promotion of ethnic diversity and inclusion at Goldman Sachs (GS) has included mentoring Hispanic/Latinx analysts and leading a summer intern panel where former interns shared their best practices for success. He has also developed Hispanic/Latinx celebrations to showcase cultural diversity, celebrate the achievements of the Hispanic/Latinx community and raise awareness of issues it faces.
In response to remote working under COVID-19, Bryant helped lead a variety of initiatives and programming to foster connectivity in a virtual environment, including leading the launch of a quarterly newsletter highlighting local Hispanic/Latinx events. Under Bryant’s leadership, the Hispanic/Latinx network has remained connected, raised broader awareness of the issues affecting the community, and successfully developed membership across four pillars: Recruiting, Personal and Professional Growth, Community Engagement, and Client Engagement.
Bryant’s work outside of Goldman Sachs includes serving as president of the Salt Lake City Chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance.
Mateo Urquijo, head of strategy & commercial, Phoenix Group
In 2020, Mateo led and co-sponsored the delivery of Who We Are, Phoenix Group’s first comprehensive diversity data initiative. The initiative delivered the first true D&I data blueprint for the UK's largest long-term savings and retirement business, achieving a 77% survey completion rate in just two months, which is seen as a model for UK corporates.
Additionally, Mateo serves as a committee member of MOSAIC, the group’s colleague BAME network. He is also the group’s lead for financial inclusion, wellness, and education under the group board’s sustainability agenda.
Mateo works closely with the Phoenix Executive Committee, to educate, challenge, and influence the group’s strategic direction on D&I issues. Hhe also provides support, and inspiration, to his colleagues through mentorship and coaching for young people from diverse backgrounds.
Through MOSAIC, Mateo also sits on the Scottish Parliament's Cross-party Group for Racial Equality, which seeks to identify and address racism across society.
Kholofelo Mothibi, interim head of supplier assurance, Barclays
Kholofelo is the co–lead for Barclays Black Professional Forum (BPF) US, Whippany Campus, where she developed a number of impactful initiatives.
Notably under her leadership, she was responsible for increasing the forum’s membership and developing the first multicultural month at the campus. With BPF, she contributed to research that served as the input to the Barclays Race at Work agenda.
She has contributed to the delivery of Barclays’ mandatory race training, the launch of collaborations with HBCUs, and leveraged BPF’s external network to launch an awareness campaign, with speakers including Dr. Sheila Robinson and Dr. Tony Allen. BPF also collaborated with IHS Markit’s ERG and local non-profit Arête Education to raise funding for meal distributions in support of minority-owned businesses impacted by the pandemic as well as youth and families living below the poverty line.
The collaboration surpassed fundraising goal. $9,000 was raised and used to feed over 200 families in the South Bronx and Harlem. Kholofelo was nominated for Barclays Citizenship and Diversity Awards for her role in the initiative.
Sengova Kailondo, senior associate, Hogan Lovells International LLP
The ‘Junior Lawyer of the Year 2020’ (awarded by the Law Society), Sengova is an integral part of committees and organisations through which he has impacted strategies and organised events focussed on increasing diversity in the legal industry.
As part of the steering committees of the Hogan Lovells Multicultural Network and REAHL (Race and Ethnicity at Hogan Lovells), his work has included reviewing internal policies on recruitment and progression, personally moderating an audience with Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent on the importance of identity, arranging a wealth management event focussed on underrepresented groups and facilitating discussions on racial injustice in the UK and abroad.
He is the acting co-treasurer for NOTICED, the UK’s first inter-firm diversity network aimed at promoting opportunities to integrate, celebrate and educate on diversity across the legal sector.
Furthermore, he currently mentors five students as part of a mentoring programme managed by Rare Recruitment in collaboration with Hogan Lovells.
Lemona Chanda, associate, Financial Conduct Authority
Lemona is the co-chair of BAME Women’s Group, promoting the role of BAME women within the organisation. She co-leads a support group for BAME women that created a safe space for them to share their perspectives and work on areas such as career progression. This has been very successful and currently starting its third cohort.
As a key member of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Lemona proactively advises on addressing BAME inclusion across all levels of business. By challenging behaviours that can prohibit progress, Lemona is a champion of inclusion and committed to driving positive change.
As part of her work in Balance, the FCA’s gender network, she leads the network’s mentoring scheme for aspiring technical specialists, which helps them in preparation for applying specialist roles. There are 16 mentees in the programme. She delivers training to SLT on micro-aggression and bystander intervention.
Yasmine Laurent, director of people & culture, Mobilize/EveryAction
Yasmine heads the diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts at Mobilize/EveryAction. When Yasmine arrived at Mobilize she immediately got to work on implementing new DE&I initiatives, making it part of the company’s ‘People & Culture’ mandate.
Within her first six months Yasmine: designed & implemented a DEI strategy and roadmap; established a DEI board; initiated and facilitated quarterly company-wide DEI trainings; developed an inclusive recruitment strategy and toolkit for managers; started celebrating cultural and heritage events, and launched internal monthly ‘safe space’ conversations.
Establishing a DEI board allowed Yasmine to build internal capacity so her work would have a larger impact across the organisation, putting together a team of individuals across all departments. Yasmine then worked with the team to define the company DEI goals, incorporate DEI as a measured competency in staff performance appraisals, and evaluate client standards and supplier pipelines for accessibility and equity.
Natalie Narh, social content creative, Ogilvy UK
During the resurgence of the BLM movement, Natalie was active in Ogilvy’s efforts in supporting the Black community via workshops and a video series on effective allyship against racism.
She lead Ogilvy’s Black History Month activities with a host of virtual campaigns and events to amplify the outstanding contributions of over 30 Black organisations and artists in the UK. This included: The People Behind the Label campaign for Black Pound Day that highlighted five Black-owned businesses; the ‘Rooted’ Virtual Art Exhibition with Mediacom Roots celebrating the beauty of Black culture; ‘Cut the Stigma’, a three-part series exploring mental health in the Black male community in partnership with TrimIt; and “Cooking with OSU”, a how-to tutorial for Afro-Caribbean delicacies.
The online platform she co-founded, New Comma, is due to launch this year. The tech start-up is a creative ecosystem for local and diaspora African creatives to connect, create, learn and earn.
Ona Odili, lawyer, Clifford Chance LLP
Ona Odili is a lawyer at Clifford Chance LLP and a member of the firm's Racial Equality and Celebrating Heritage (REACH) network, the Breakfast Club, and co-founder of an informal lunch and language group where culture, diversity and language interests are promoted. As part of the firm's initiative to promote diversity in business, Ona mentors at Social Mobility Fund, has contributed on panels such as WCAN Annual Law Conference 2020, and has volunteered at Sisters for Change, a charity that works to combat violence against women and girls in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
Ona is the founder of Q-Leap, a self-funded not-for-profit organisation that promotes the personal, academic and professional development of youth (fondly called Q-Leapers) in London. The success of the Q-Leap programme has led to Q-Leapers winning the UN Affiliate UPF Award, the Commonwealth Award, securing training contracts, apprenticeship and internships.
Siji Onabanjo, chief growth officer, Cyber-Duck
Siji has achieved significant progress in his role as Cyber-Duck's Diversity Lead, including signing the company up to the Creative Equals diversity pledge, through which creative agency leadership commit to improving sector representation. He also vocally champions inclusive recruitment strategies, contributing to a workplace in which 13% of his team are Black, 35% are ethnic minorities and only 42% are white-British.
Last year the article Siji wrote titled ‘Black Lives Matter, Yes Even in the Workplace’ became LinkedIn’s most engaged with article ever, receiving over 135,000 likes and being shared 10,000 times. Siji received hundreds of testimonials from c-level executives and employees in the UK and the US about the role the article had played in changing attitudes towards systemic bias and racism at their companies.
Siji also hosts the popular podcast "The B in BAME", interviewing inspiring Black professionals, and works with 1,000 Black Voices, providing mentorship to Black-owned technology startups.
Lorenna Buck, partner, Boston Consulting Group
As part of the North America Racial Equity Task Force at the Boston Consulting Group, Lorenna works with corporate clients and non-profit partners to identify ways in which they can drive equity and inclusion for marginalised communities, such as by providing access to capital and supporting diverse talent.
She also leads the development of DEI curricula specific to the principal investor and private equity industries. Her role as the Boston Office Black and Latinx Network Lead includes launching programming, fostering community, mentoring diverse talent, and spearheading initiatives in the Boston office and across North America.
Lorenna also founded, and currently leads, BCG Boston's Racial Equity Accelerator. The accelerator has over 150 members of all backgrounds driving four workstreams committed to advancing equity and inclusion: recruiting, supporting co-workers (including career development and mentorship), education (eg, DEI trainings, speaker series), and external partnerships in the Boston area to drive local community impact.
Coleen Mensa, lawyer, EY LLP
Coleen is the Founder of Black Connection, a community for EY’s Black colleagues across all UK offices to meet and grow their networks. The community has over 200 members and over the lockdown periods Coleen held regular virtual events.
At the height of the BLM protests in 2020, Coleen also partnered with the Race and Ethnicity Network (EY REN) to deliver a talk to over 1,000 colleagues called 'Breaking the Silence' (attended by the Chairman), on micro-aggressions, mistaken identity, building authentic allyship and stereotypes.
This was the first time a Black colleague had addressed racism in a direct way to a huge audience within the firm and the impact was massive. Following the talk, leadership committed to making changes like eradicating the use of the term ‘BAME’ when publishing reports. Outside of EY, Coleen founded the Law Masterclass Series: a mentoring programme for aspiring lawyers from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Hope Levy-Shepherd, associate (mainstream corporate), Linklaters LLP
Hope is an active member of the Linklaters Ethnicity and Race Network (LEARN) and was one of the committee members involved in developing the firm’s Race Action Plan. She was a key part of the team which coordinated Linklaters’ first-ever client webinar series on Black identity at work and the most junior lawyer on a panel alongside senior leaders on intergenerational experiences of Black women in law.
Hope used her experiences as a mentor on Linklaters’ pilot reverse mentoring programme to deliver talks to clients on launching their own reverse mentoring schemes.
Outside of Linklaters, Hope is a co-founder of the Black British City Group (“BBCG”), a cross-sector network of Black professionals in the UK empowering Black communities through programmes which leverage members' collective skills and resources. For example, BBCG runs an e-mentoring careers programme for Black university students facing cancelled internships as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shaun Lee, corporate relationship manager, HSBC
Shaun has been active in advocating for more Asian representation across HSBC (HSBA.L) since first joining in 2017. As a result of being vocal on the matter, Shaun was nominated to take responsibility of running the Southern California chapter for an internal ERG: Asians and Pacific Islander Committee (APIC).
In this role, he was able to drive change by organising internal cultural and professional sessions and partnering with external organisations like ASCEND to conduct workshops such as ‘Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling’.
After Shaun’s success in this role was recognised, he was then appointed to be one of the three global co-chairs for the HSBC Embrace Employee Resource Group. This appointment allows Shaun to look at ethnicity issues from different lenses specific to each minority group and to effect change by providing on-the-ground insights to senior leaders.
Claire Sachiko Fourel, pro bono senior associate lawyer, Europe and Middle East, Ashurst LLP
Claire is the lead lawyer on Ashurst’s pro bono Windrush Compensation Assistance scheme, in partnership with the community legal centre United Legal Access. This project, which Claire developed as a response to the Windrush Scandal, the BLM marches, and the death of George Floyd, provides legal help to people who suffered as a result of the UK Home Office's ‘hostile environment’ policy, which saw thousands of British Black Afro-Caribbean people lose their homes, their right to work and their access to social welfare and healthcare, as well as facing deportation in some cases.
Claire worked with ULA to develop legal training for herself and 20 other lawyers at Ashurst, and the team has so far provided over 500 hours of free legal support to ULA and their clients.
Claire is also the co-founder of Sachiko & Shu, a minority-led enterprise focused on activism through storytelling and events, which released a digital anti-racism charity cookbook "Recipes Against Racism" in April 2021.
Malaika Jawed, associate solicitor, BLM
Malaika started out as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) representative. After noticing a lack of representation of BAME causes, and a lack of contributions to CSR events from ethnic minority colleagues, she set about finding ways to improve ED&I at the firm.
As a paralegal with little influence, Malaika started out leading projects with local charities supporting ethnic minority members of the community and raising awareness of diversity. Eventually, BLM, an insurance risk and commercial law firm, set up an EDI group and Malaika was named an ambassador. Malaika created and now leads the Multicultural Network at BLM.
In these roles, Malaika has set up mentoring schemes, attended panel discussions for universities, worked on events and publications, reviewed office policies to ensure they reflect the objectives of the Network, including recommending the use of blind CVs to ensure people are assessed on their key skills and talents. Externally, she is co-head of D&I for the Muslim Lawyers Action Group.
Antonio Xu Liu, senior strategy programme manager, Capital Programs, National Grid USA
As the chair of National Grid USA’s PrideUSA Employee Resource Group, Antonio has increased LGBTQ+ and ethnic minority board member representation by 112%, from 8 to 17 members.
His role makes him accountable for over 300 LGBTQ+ employees, including many allies and employees of colour in the US. In 2020, together with his team, Antonio developed a virtual intersectionality training for employees to learn about allyship for the LGBTQ+, Black and Brown communities. The training received company-wide executive and employee participation, becoming the highest attended virtual D&I event in the company’s history with over 2,000 attendees.
In 2020, the training received the firm’s highest employee recognition award, a National Grid Chairman's Award. And in the same year, Antonio lead an initiative to re-design and implement National Grid’s ‘Inclusion Logo’: a new version of the company's rainbow logo which includes the colours of the Progress Flag and continues to be used across all customer-facing Social Digital Media platforms during Pride Month.
Hannah Chukwu, assistant editor, Penguin Random House
In Hannah’s current job as assistant editor at Hamish Hamilton, she works editorially on the books of Bernardine Evaristo whose novel Girl, Woman, Other made her the first black woman to win the Booker Prize in 2019.
Hannah is also editor for the inaugural BLACK BRITAIN: WRITING BACK Series. Selected and introduced by Bernardine Evaristo, the series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting Black Britain.
Hannah’s vocal championing of those who are underrepresented in the publishing industry led to the Penguin Random House Creative Responsibility Team appointing her as Policy and Campaign Consultant on a joint campaign with Runnymede Trust: 'Lit in Colour'. In this role, Hannah advises on how to meaningfully change the English curriculum throughout the UK to feature more authors of colour.
Her work in the publishing industry over the last two years has led to her recently winning the London Book Fair Trailblazer Award 2021.
Micaela Christophe, vice-president, event management, BNY Mellon
As the lead corporate events advisor to BNY Mellon’s employee and business resource groups (E/BRGs), Micaela plays an integral role in events that drive the company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy, including programmes centred on talent recruitment, employee development and client engagement. As an advocate for E/BRGs and subject matter expert, she developed a self-service model and resources that empower groups to own and execute their DEI programming.
In 2019, Micaela was recognised by BNY Mellon as a Diversity & Inclusion Champion after a record number of nominations for any one individual in the award’s history.
Micaela serves as a Founding Junior Board Member for the nonprofit organisation, Part of the Solution, which helps 30,000+ New Yorkers struggling with poverty each year.
She was also recently appointed to the Steering Committee for the Harlem YMCA bai programme which aims to develop youth into future leaders.
Sangeetha Mahadevan, client director, Dentsu
Sangeetha is the only ethnic minority person at director level or above in her department and is part of the steering committee of Dentsu Represent. Her work includes ensuring that Diversity and Inclusion is implemented across the board in the firm’s culture, people, client work, briefings and media choices.
She has raised awareness of issues such as the lack of ethnic minority leadership at senior levels and advocated changes in processes to enable open sharing of lived experiences. The committee has rolled out D&I training programmes across the organization as well as initiatives that celebrate diverse cultures.
As part of her contributions to the wider industry, Sangeetha mentors young ethnic minority talent through organisations like Bloom UK, CMI, and The Girls Network, and is part of the editorial committee at Media for All, an organisation that was set up to help ethnic minority talent thrive and grow within the media industry.
Frederick Sharp, senior account executive, SAP SuccessFactors
Frederick’s work as part of the SAP (SAP.DE) Diversity Council has included helping to launch HBCU career fairs, initiating a programme to increase D&I ambassadors across SAP, and reallocating marketing dollars towards diverse candidates.
Frederick also sits on the Emerging Talent Advisory Board, a role which has seen him work with SAP leaders to determine how to respond to BLM movement and speak with members of the Future Forum Congressional Caucus to discuss the importance of workplace diversity and the steps lawmakers need to take to address racial disparity.
A third committee Frederick contributes to is the SAP Black Employee Network. He created a voter registration initiative to educate diverse employees on their voting rights, hosted a fireside chat discussing D&I with Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, and set up networking programmes to connect new ethnic minority hires with an ethnic minority mentor inside the organisation.
Amit Chouhan, solution executive, law & order, Fujitsu
Amit is the co-chair of Fujitsu’s Cultural Diversity Network, which accelerated its actions to deliver sustainable change in response to the COVID-19 lockdown and the BLM movement.
Amit himself was instrumental in driving Fujitsu to publish its first-ever public statement on racial justice. After he led roundtables with the senior leadership team and 35 BAME-colleagues, of which 45% were women, a number of BAME-focused initiatives were agreed to by the CEO. These included sending out regular communications on D&I issues, the establishment of an Ethnicity Steering Board reporting to the senior leadership team, and coaches trained to provide BAME Safe Spaces.
Amit was also involved in a campaign to increase ethnic-background disclosure, resulting in a current disclosure rate of over 80%, as well as a BAME focused Career Ignition training which has reached 250 people. 80% of Fujitsu’s roundtable participants have expressed that they feel real change is now happening.
Roselyn Mutongerwa, contract manager, Agilisys Limited
Roselyn is an active member of Agilisys’ D&I committee and networks and is the head of education for the Agilisys BAME and the Women Empowerment networks. Roselyn conducted D&I presentations to business units in Guernsey and the UK, promoting the work of the D&I Committee and the networks, in order to increase employee engagement in D&I activities.
Roselyn was also involved in the development of compulsory D&I training, with modules on ‘Why D&I Matters’, ‘Unconscious Bias’, and ‘Belonging’ being successfully rolled out across Agilisys to over 1000 employees in 2020.
Outside of Agilisys, Roselyn has founded an organisation, WEM Vision, with a mission to change the face of the finance and technology industries by enhancing career opportunities and supporting the social mobility of women and ethnic minorities through employment. The organisation has increased its membership by 80% in 2021 and is continuing to grow.
Annie Xiao, events and partnerships marketing manager, FiscalNote
Since joining FiscalNote, Annie has launched a number of interest groups, such as the Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander interest group and the French Club, to promote diversity and inclusion within the global technology company.
As a founding member of the DEI Task Force, Annie helped publish their inaugural DEI report which was shared throughout the organisation. In addition to her efforts at FiscalNote, Annie is an active member of the Women in Government Relations’ DEI Committee, regularly participating in their meetings and events to highlight DEI issues facing government affairs professionals today.
Annie is also a former vice-chair of the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership and a new member of the 10,000 Degrees Young Professionals Council, a diverse group of young business leaders who support students from low-income backgrounds in pursuit of their higher education and career goals through strategic initiatives.
Jean Kikaya, project surveyor, Clarion Housing Group
Jean’s record of promoting D&I at Clarion Housing Group has involved single-handedly launching the BAME Network (including forming the terms of reference and creating all publicity when Affinity Sutton merged with Circle to form Clarion).
Jean regularly speaks externally on BAME matters. As the network’s co-chair, Jean was approached following the death of George Floyd to discuss issuing a company statement and putting staff support systems in place. As a result, additional funding was granted to the network to run events during Black History Month including unconscious bias training for senior managers, peer-to-peer support groups & Black history study sessions. Jean sits on Clarion’s D&I advisory group. Under Jean’s leadership the network has grown to approx. 200 members.
Outside of Clarion, Jean co-founded the housing sector’s BAME Network, called Unify, which brings together different housing association BAME networks to share insights and explore projects to run throughout the year.
Donna Hill, business planning manager, disputes government investigations legal, Standard Chartered Bank
Donna creates and implements organisational design strategies, oversees budgeting and operations and executes key initiatives for a global team of attorneys and legal professionals. Donna is also a dedicated advocate for equity and inclusion, and serves as one of the founding co-chairs of the Bank’s Origins, Nationality, and Ethnicity (“ONE”) employee resource group and the programme chair for ONE BoLD, the Black and African American colleague programming pillar.
In 2019, she received the Bank’s D&I “Better Together” award in recognition of her efforts. Following the killing of George Floyd, Donna led open discussions and provided specific recommendations to leadership to address racial inequity, inclusivity, and lack of representation. Since then, the bank has publicly committed to targets for increasing Black and Latinx representation in senior management in the US.
Donna also serves as Northeast chair of the Cornell Black Lawyers Alumni Network, planning events and mentors current students and alumni.
Natasha Persad, vice-president, client relationship management, State Street Fund Services Ireland
Since featuring on last year’s EMpower list, Natasha has been using her platform to continue speaking out against racism. As well as speaking engagements with FuSion, her network in conjunction with the PWN interviewed the mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, an advocate of D&I.
Natasha is a proud member of State Street’s Global Inclusion and Diversity Council with involvement in the work stream that aims to encourage a more diverse future workplaces in the asset management industry.
The DDE network that Natasha co-chairs collaborated with the PRIDE and PWN networks on virtual events held last year at State Street.
Natasha’s aim for this year is to work with children and she will be engaging with secondary schools to speak about diversity and third level education. In 2020, Natasha commenced her MBA at Trinity College Dublin, a programme strongly focused on sustainability and social enterprise projects topics that are of great interest to her.
Ahmed Omer, head of marketing, GroupM
Ahmed is the chair of the GroupM Roots network, which champions and drives equity and inclusion for ethnic, religious and cultural minorities. Under Ahmed’s leadership the Employee Resource Group has supported a sponsorship programme which connects high potential ethnic minority talent with senior sponsors across the company, helping them to create clear career paths.
The group has also created an inclusive hiring system for managers, launched a scheme allowing colleagues to swap UK bank holidays for days of significance to them, and brought new suppliers into the firm’s apprenticeship programme to ensure diverse representation. In another effort to promote diversity, the network has added 5,000 additional diverse publishers to the list GroupM works with.
Following the Black History Month panel Ahmed hosted last year, he will be hosting another panel on the importance of D&I at the Programmatic Pioneers summit later this year. Ahmed is also a Mentor at MEFA and has taken on two mentees.
Rutendo Chigora, investment associate, Bridgewater Associates
Rutendo plays a central role as an Investment Associate within Bridgewater’s Investment Engine, conducting and leading investment research projects for Bridgewater’s China-based clients. In addition, Rutendo works to diversify the firm’s investment talent by championing efforts to recruit, advance, and mentor minority talent.
She represented Bridgewater as a panelist at the Harlem Children Zone’s Careers Exposure Panel and Bridgewater Black Network Recruiting Events, where she speaks to minority students about pathways into the financial services industry and shares practical steps for them to pursue similar tracks.
Before joining Bridgewater in 2017, Rutendo graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and was a Rhodes Scholar. While at Oxford, she led efforts to diversify the pool of applicants to the university and expand funding for Rhodes and university-wide scholarships for African students.
She volunteers with a venture firm that is investing in and helping to build businesses in Africa that catalyse economic growth.
Jennifer Alvarado, vice-president, relationship officer, HSBC
The long list of groups and initiatives Jennifer is part of at HSBC includes the Caribbean Employee Resource Group, for which she is COO, the Hispanic Employee Resource Group, of which she is chair, the Private Bank People & Culture Programme, the Wealth and Private Banking D&I Advisory Board and the WPB Customer & Employee Experience Working Group.
Belonging to so many groups has allowed Jennifer to play an important role in creating unity amongst varying networks and business lines, bridging the gaps between them. Through her involvement in each one she has led and coordinated employee events for awareness, education, action and change, driving the business's D&I deliverables.
As a result of her efforts, Jennifer was recognised in 2020 with the HSBC Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador Award.
Outside of HSBC she collaborates with iMentor to support an ethnic minority student from a lower income school district.
Shailyn Tirado, Americas head of research at NextGen, Euromoney Institutional Investor
As co-chair of the Americas Race, Ethnicity & Faith Network at Euromoney, Shailyn felt compelled to write an article following the death of George Floyd about how Black and Brown employees were expected to fight for their human rights one day, and attend morning meetings unaffected the next.
Since first becoming co-chair of the network more than three years ago, Shailyn helped introduce and promote ideas on education, inclusion, mentorship and career development at all stages of the business. She co-curated a detailed programme for Black History Month inviting external speakers to discuss areas such as disability, sexuality, gender and socio-economic status in an effort to practice what was preached and remain intersectional in our group approach.
Outside of Euromoney, Shailyn is a small businesses owner and member of the Justice Committee, a grassroots organisation dedicated to building a movement against police violence and systemic racism in New York City.
Rini Laskar, director, UBS
Rini is the co-chair and founding member of MOSAIC UK, UBS’s largest employee network representing 2,400 members. MOSAIC UK’s successes include pushing the ethnicity disclosure rate up to 75%, driving UBS to set its first race and ethnicity targets at 26% by 2025, and to sign up to the Race at Work charter.
Another victory was gaining sponsorship from the board and CEO for a 19-point action plan to increase Race and Ethnic diversity at UBS. MOSAIC UK has also delivered a mentoring programme for 200 members, an inaugural reverse-mentoring programme with 64 senior leaders, and community initiatives to promote reading and ethnically diverse books for primary schools.
In addition, Rini is a board member of the BritBangla network, which promotes Bangladeshi interests and represents over 1,000 members. She is also identified as one of the UK’s top 100 Muslim Women under Baroness Uddin’s Change the Script Initiative.
Zeeshan Nazar, contract management graduate, BT
Zeeshan’s work to promote D&I at BT includes creating a mentorship function within the BT Muslim Network made up of experienced colleagues, graduates and apprentices.
He has hosted online webinars for graduates in collaboration with ConsortiuM, as well as creating BT’s own three-part apprenticeship series to explore life at the company. The impact of this series has been an increase in diverse talent applying to early career routes with BT, an achievement helping to advance BT’s D&I agenda. As a result of Zeeshan’s work with senior leaders and HR directors to shape the company’s D&I strategy, a new Ethnicity Rapid Action Plan is being rolled out, including a programme of reverse mentoring for senior management and the global leadership team.
Zeeshan also managed to increase signups to employee affinity networks by establishing and running a mandatory session during graduate induction to introduce the networks to new staff.
Jonathan Chen, head of EMEA commercial strategy – equity data and analytics, IHS Markit
In order to improve representation at IHS Markit and provide a forum for ethnic minority colleagues to connect and appreciate each other's cultures, Jonathan joined the steering committees of the EMpower and ASPIRE affinity groups.
Together with the groups’ members, he worked to promote awareness by chairing sharing circles and webinars, moderating speaker panels as well as advancing the partnership with SEO London to encourage the recruitment of students from ethnic minorities and low socio-economic backgrounds.
The result of this partnership has been a shortlist of 43 candidates who applied through the SEO scheme now proceeding to final interviews for positions across the firm. The groups Jonathan steers have also worked to raise awareness and funds to combat anti-Asian sentiment and API violence.
Jonathan is also a volunteer at End the Virus of Racism, a UK ESEA community advocacy group.
Antonio Soler, marketing & strategy PM, University College Dublin
Antonio is a member of UCD LGBT+ Staff Network, the Multicultural Employee Network (MENU) and the EDI network at University College Dublin – Ireland’s largest and most diverse university.
By participating in these committees, he provides ethnic minority representation at meetings where decisions relating to diversity and inclusion are made. The strategies Antonio has developed include building an internal communication plan for the College, with a section dedicated exclusively to showcasing events, news and outstanding contributions relating to DE&I. Antonio has also worked to highlight the importance of celebrating events such as International Women’s Day and Pride within the College.
Alongside his achievements at UCD Dublin, Antonio has been awarded the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Fellowship for his professional achievements and his work highlighting matters related to EDI, in particular, the contributions of LGBT+ staff to the workplace.
Harpreet Cheema, head of digital & promotions, Sodexo
As co-chair of the Culture and Origins network at Sodexo, Harpreet was at the forefront of the firm’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
He started by sending a personal letter to the business and followed this with a firm-wide virtual meeting, attended by around 300 employees, exploring the role we each have to play in tackling racism. Harpreet then supported the design and delivery of Sodexo's first ever listening groups, seeking to understand Black colleagues’ lived experiences within the organisation and how the workplace culture could be improved.
After nearly 100 employee interviews were conducted, Harpreet facilitated feedback sessions with the executive leaders that challenged the organisation on its approach and helped shape the strategy going forward. Harpreet has also been working with colleagues to launch a 'Breaking Bias' webinar series, exploring the subtle biases that occur and how to address them.