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Dear White People

Shaping the business towards Allyship

In the broader context of the Black Lives Matter movement I feel that globally, we are all being challenged to sit up and take notice of our own biases, the systemic racism around us and to make real and lasting change.  As a business leader I’m compelled to ask, “what part can I play in changing institutional racism?”

A first top tip from commentators on developing an anti-racist plan is to get educated. Read up on our history, understand how racism works and what it feels like, start to recognise the unrecognisable privilege white people have.

I started with Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and I highly recommend it.

But I believe that I have two key roles to play: one is the same for all of us – listening, learning, challenging our privilege and standing alongside those who are being treated unfairly. The second one is about my expertise in unconscious bias, through this strength I can make a difference and the business has begun to reshape its focus and energy into this space, moving far beyond interview skills.

What has surprised me in this journey is the reaction of a few predominantly white people.  In the local, everyday conversations, where our friends and family get upset about us raising the topic of racism I have to ask, what else could be going on? When someone we know to be friendly and kind suddenly seems so closed and defensive because we started a conversation about white privilege?

With this in mind, and through the inspiration of Chikere Igbokwe, Abi Adamson and Priyanka Sharma, I was delighted to be able to contribute more on this to the Allyship.co.uk blog

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Totem Talks Episode 13: Unconscious Bias

What exactly is unconscious bias? Put simply, it’s the decisions that we make every day – on an unconscious basis – in relation to other people.

Based on our gender, ethnicity, genetics, upbringing, education and so many other factors, our brains are wired in different ways. And the tricky thing with different brain patterns is that we tend to like our own, because we only know our own ways of thinking and working. Our minds are perfect echo chambers, everyone who thinks differently – more often than not we think of as wrong, misguided or weird.

In the broader context of the recent resurgence is the Black Lives Matter movement we feel that globally, we are all being challenged to sit up and take notice of our own biases, the systemic racism around us and to make real and lasting change.

In this podcast, Mark Smith and Helen Frewin describe their upbringing and the influence of race upon their unconscious biases, their response to recent developments and how they plan to contribute to a future free from racism.

As mentioned in the podcast, Mark has been particularly moved by the work of Dr Laura Morgan Roberts, a consultant and researcher on the science of maximising human potential in diverse organizations and communities.

You can find out more about the workshops Laura runs and the book she helped write below:

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