Our emerging themes
Since Autumn 2020, we hosted a series of discursive sessions to explore what we felt we needed from our new space and what excited us by coming together.
Below are our list of key themes that emerged from those conversations. Some are intentionally broad in their definition – we believe these will evolve over time and will mean different things to different people. We will continue to build and iterate these themes as we go.
Expertise and leadership
Not having to be ‘the expert’ in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
As a minority in our fields/organisations, we are often turned to as the person ‘best placed’ to answer questions relating to ED&I. We feel we have to be confident with our recommendations and offer support. This network offers a space where we can learn together and where no one individual needs to be the expert.
Being the most senior person of colour at work, but not in a position to drive the change that your colleagues ask for
It can be a lonely (and pressurised) experience to be one of the few, most senior persons of colour in an organisation (and often sector), and yet not be in a senior enough position to drive change. The opportunity to come together with others who have experienced this is invaluable for learning and support.
Leadership is often defined through a white, western capitalist lens e.g. hierarchy, control, ownership. Although there is much talk about the value of collaboration or co-production, there are few examples of how this happens in practice within institutions. Here we can rethink, remodel and redefine what leadership might look and feel like for us. A space, defined by us, for us.
A space to think ahead
Many of the challenges we face (and are asked to tackle) in our day jobs are grounded in the here and now – they often feel most pressing, creating little space or luxury to proactively think about the future. Here we can frame our challenges in the future, as something to strive towards.
A space where we can set the pace
We are often pushed to work at a pace to deliver within specific milestones and deadlines, prioritising other work and driven by a capitalist mindset. Here we can set our own pace, based on our own needs and priorities defined by the collective.
A space where we can have more critical and nuanced conversations about what it means to be a person of colour driving change in our work
As a minority in our workspaces, there’s a feeling that we cannot afford not to be aligned in our interpretations of the challenges to prioritise tackling. Here we can be free to explore and challenge our own thinking without risk.
Setting the agenda
Creating a new table
We are often pressured to improve existing structures, institutions and spaces, to challenge and support them to increase diversity and inclusion of marginalised groups. This network is an opportunity to create a new table, to innovate and create equitable structures away from existing designs.
The continual balancing act
A place where we can explore strategies to balance the energies pulling us into different directions - balancing such as serving collective needs at the same time as individual needs; creating a new table versus influencing existing ones; prioritising the challenges today with the opportunities of the future; cultivating relationships and deepening connection; learning from history as well as trying new things; and finally – being regenerative, focussing on joy and strength with giving energy to trauma and pain.
Spotting and surfacing systemic challenges
We are beginning to see more networks for people of colour within specific sectors. This cross-sector feature reveals synergies across all our work and helps to build greater confidence in our understanding of the challenges and opportunities – that the challenges are not just specific to one sector but are actually systemic.
The potential to be in solidarity and not in competition
The lack of opportunities for people of colour within our individual industries means there is often a sense of competition between us. With this network being cross-sector, the lack of competition or sector heaviness creates space for us to grow and explore without fear.
Unleashing the potential of being relational
We are here as individuals, but our ideas are built on a collective input and on trust. How might we use this group to showcase what collective change looks like?
A collective of experts in our own right
Few spaces exist where you can get objective, critical feedback on your work from persons of colour as experts. This collective feedback offers the potential to add a quality mark to our work. We can share examples of successful projects from other sectors, providing evidence that enables us to shift away from always having to make the case to pilot something first.