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Karen Blackett

In January 2018, Karen became the first UK Country Manager for WPP, whilst also retaining her position as Chairwoman of MediaCom in the UK & Ireland. She has spent 7 years focused on changing the diversity of MediaCom in the UK to make it a more inclusive culture via partnerships with specialist talent companies, launching and continuing to evolve an Apprenticeship scheme which has now been running for over 7 years, setting KPI’s for each Managing Director across the UK offices focused on increasing diversity of their teams, and launching a programme of talks and training. In her WPP role, Karen is taking the same systematic approach to ensuring the 14,000 people employed at WPP in the UK truly reflect modern Britain and their clients’ customers. Karen has launched WPP Roots, inspired by Ogilvy Roots, a group-wide cultural inclusion programme. Roots’ mission is to change the way in which case the organisation talks, discusses and approaches ethnicity, race, culture and religion within the industry, and through the work. The goal is to ensure greater representation across the board. In September 2018, Karen was appointed by the UK Prime Minister as the Race Equality Champion for Business, supporting companies to sign up to BITC Race at Work Charter, which is committed to increasing ethnic diversity in the workplace. She has advised the U.K. Governments Civil Service on D&I, and in February 2019 was appointed a Non-Executive to the Cabinet Office. Karen co-chairs The Advertising Industry Diversity Taskforce and judges the Black British Business Awards. As Chancellor of Portsmouth University, she is committed to increasing the number of BAME students and staff.

Geoffrey Williams

As part of his role, Geoffrey designed and implemented training and career development programmes that support the ethnic minority community, but also gives the business the tools to create an inclusive working environment. In addition, he rolled out mandatory micro-aggressions training to all 400 HR staff globally to go deeper into the impacts of bias in the work environment. He has hosted a number of events with external experts to raise awareness of intersectionality, running six global sessions with one focused on the top 300 leaders globally. Under Geoffrey’s remit, budget has been regularly assigned to the support of The Power List and the Black British Business Awards, and the Asian Power List, connecting the brand with the wider ethnic minority community. Externally, Geoffrey co-founded a non-profit organisation that focuses on building aspirations of young people between the age of 13 & 14, called Rocking Ur Teens. Some attendees are at risk of exclusion, as well as being from communities where they don’t have access to role models. He secures speakers who work in diverse industries to give talks and workshops. He has also regularly been featured in internal and external media projects around diversity and inclusion

Kai Exos

As a brand leader and seniormost creative talent within Dentsu Aegis Network Canada, with a longstanding seat on the Isobar Global Creative Council, Kai has introduced Inclusivity Training within his 100-strong team of innovators and creators. This Summer 2018, a three-year integration that Kai co-chaired for 650 of his network teammates will culminate — focused on the power of craft and diversity to achieve positive collective results. Kai is a lifetime member of the NAACP and serves on the board of directors for @Unity_In_Color, a global movement in solidarity for Women’s Rights. Monthly initiatives for his internal project, The Intersectionality Forum, continue to take place at their Toronto headquarters to highlight shared values and encourage representation. In addition to his philanthropic endeavours, Kai’s activism extends further as a Billboard-charting musician alongside his private collection of fine art from the African diaspora.

 

Jacqueline Simmons

Jacqueline is actively involved in recruiting and promoting diverse minority ethnic talent both within and outside the News group. Specifically, she is a member of Bloomberg’s EMEA Diversity Council, promoting and supporting events, leveraging networks and actively participating in and leading diversity initiatives. She was instrumental in Bloomberg’s Race to Action Inclusion Dialogue, which engaged leaders across the organisation, to start an honest dialogue on race and drive the agenda on ethnicity forward. Additionally, she is a global lead for the company’s Black Professional Community, which has a membership exceeding 700 globally, and oversees Bloomberg News’s managing diversity team. Externally, Jacqueline has given her voice to race and diversity issues at high-level events, including the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Women’s Forum in Deauville, and as a speaker at the Women of the World Festival in the U.K. She is also shaping the agenda of Bloomberg’s first Equality Summit in New York, where she will lead discussions around issues involving female and racial empowerment across business lines and society. This year she has appeared on the Powerlist, and currently serves on the jury panel for this year’s One World Media Awards.

Karen Blackett OBE

During the five years Karen was CEO at MediaCom, the agency’s staff evolved from 11% to 20% ethnic minorities. She launched an Apprenticeship Scheme for 18-24 year olds at MediaCom, working with Tim Campbell, MBE and The National Apprenticeship Service. She also started a new initiative called Inclusion@MediaCom, an internal program which has covered Authenticity, The Glass Wall and Mental Health and Wellbeing. As then President of industry charity NABS, Karen helped to organise their Diversity Panel. Karen speaks annually at the Media Business Course in Brighton which is focused on new joiners to the industry, and focuses on the business case for diversity detailing the responsibility of the industry to reflect Modern Britain in communications and content. Karen is co-chair of the Advertising Industry Diversity Taskforce along with Leo Rayman and Sarah Jenkins from Grey Advertising. In 2015 Karen was appointed by Sir Jeremy Heywood as one of four external advisors to help diversify the Civil Service, championing race. Her work in the government has also led to being asked to join the Business Diversity Group by Andrew Griffiths MP, leading Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Karen sits on a variety of committees and boards across the Creative Industry, and speaks at a number of events and conferences championing diversity globally. In 2017 she was invited to be the Guest Editor of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, where she openly talked about diversity. Karen has been a judge for the Black British Business Awards since its conception and hosts the judging at the MediaCom offices. Karen recently appeared on the BBC’s The One Show, where she discussed her journey in the advertising industry where less than 5% of the leaders are from a BAME background.

Naren Patel

At Primesight, Naren ensures that diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of his team’s minds. He regularly monitors the ethnic make-up and recruitment of his workforce to ensure that they truly reflect the society they work in. He also serves as Chair of the Primesight Diversity Group, to ensure that diversity initiatives have the support from the top of the organisation and has implemented a mentoring system to provide career advice to their ethnic minority employees. Naren has also recently put the company through a benchmarking process, to understand where they sit among competitors and how they can improve their inclusion efforts. Primesight has been nominated for a variety of industry awards, and Naren is featured on the Campaign A list. Externally, Naren is a Trustee for NABS (National Advertising Benevolent Society) and sits on their Finance Committee. He also recently set up Media for All, and  is part of the Media Diversity Task Force, and is an advisor to Creative Access. He regularly speaks at industry events on the topic of diversity in the media, and has been involved in Speakers for Schools. Through all of these activities, Naren forms mentoring relationships to pass on his advice and passion for diversity to the next generation.

Vanessa Sanyauke

Vanessa has spent over a decade working with FTSE 100 businesses creating and delivering programmes that give BAME young people aged 16-18 access to careers in the financial services. She has achieved this through through setting up award winning mentoring, internship and work experience programmes for RBS Legal, UBS, Reed Smith and many more businesses. The programmes and workshops she has delivered have impacted thousands of BAME young people in London and many of the young people who have participated in these programmes now work in the City for the financial services. Vanessa also advised the former UK Prime Minister David Cameron on his youth engagement strategy in particular for BAME young people in London and how to ensure that they get access into the workplace as when she was invited to consult; youth unemployment in the UK was at nearly a million. She is also a regular visiting lecturer and speaker on Diversity and Social Mobility for City University London, Kent Business School, Brunel University and Kings College London to educate academics and students on how FTSE 100 businesses can improve diversity and the visibility and experience of BAME People.