I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalms 139:14
On the 24th April, I attended the DoDs Diversity Supporting BAME Colleagues in the Workplace, conference in London. There were delegates from other Government departments and the private sector. The majority of attendees worked in the diversity and inclusion space.
I wanted to deliver the session on intersectionality, as you’ll know from my previous posts and my academic research that this is my area of interest and specialism. I was asked to deliver a presentation that would encourage delegates to consider:
- Does the BAME label help or hinder workplace diversity?
- Are the requirements of each individual group under the BAME umbrella met?
I accepted the opportunity to present at the conference for two reasons:
1) Presenting at the conference would raise my profile and my research interests.
2) It was an opportunity for me to network with others.
I was nervous about presenting at this event because the topic was an area that I had particular views about. I was very conscious that my views were not relevant, as my responsibility was to design a presentation that was factual, balanced, and interesting. Bearing in mind, I have never delivered a presentation on this theme before, I only volunteer in the D&I space, and I have not worked in this field for many years.
Undeterred I welcomed the challenge because I knew it was a chance to broaden my sphere of activity which would allow me to design and research a new area of social interest. I was also given the autonomy to introduce the psychosocial into the debate. Psychosocial is my other area of expertise. This was my opportunity to introduce this theoretical framework, to help delegates explore the psychosocial impact of the BAME label on individuals who are associated with the term. While also encouraging them to explore how it influences the way those who are exempt from the BAME label such as everyone who is white, interact and perceive those categorised by the BAME label consciously and unconsciously.
What was interesting for me was the way the audience engaged with the debate. At first, I was a little apprehensive because I was the last speaker for the day and my presentation was very different from all the other presenters.
Doubt tried to settle in and for a moment I felt the Imposter Syndrome creeping in. But then I said a prayer and remembered I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My style is bound to be different because I am different! And my academic and teaching background will influence the way I present.
My presentation style was interactive because I wanted to change attitudes and behaviours. For me, it was important to bring the audience on a journey which involved connecting with them emotionally as well as logically.
I accept that this may not always be achievable with everyone, but at this event, I witnessed a genuine interest to explore the personal and social effect of the BAME label. And I observed a shift in some delegates’ attitude towards the terminology.
So if I may, I would like to leave you with these few encouraging words. Step out of your comfort zone and try something different, something new, and something challenging. In doing so, you will grow and build your confidence.