My empowering evening at BAME Leaders Speed Mentoring
Written by Jilo Katter, freelance writer
After attending last year’s inaugural BAME ‘Speed Mentoring’ session held at Twitter HQ, I went into overdrive when my best friend, a NABS Ambassador, messaged me two days before this year’s event to say: “See you on Tuesday!”
Cue my horror (but no surprise) when I saw that event was fully booked, followed by my frantic emails to be on the waiting list, then some biting of nails and at last a sigh of relief. The text came through and I was booked to attend.
Why BAME Speed Mentoring?
To anyone who’s been under a rock, over the past couple of years there has been a diversity drive within all industries as one in eight of the working population are from a BAME background but only occupy one in sixteen of the top management positions (CIPD, 2017).
Why this disparity, when so many of us want to further our professional careers without using the ‘R’ word? Or believe that soon we won’t be the token person of colour in the office? Then there’s that invisible ceiling that appears for reasons unbeknown to us, but maybe we just have to work twice as hard to get ahead.
With so many questions, who better to ask than the carefully curated BAME leaders across the advertising and media industry who have navigated their way to the senior levels we so desire. Better still, there was the thought of being in a room full of individuals who were like me. All roads led to Google HQ.
Pearls of wisdom
Wine and cheese went down a treat with the crowd: a bustling room of people of colour, along with our Caucasian counterparts, who I was happy to see, because representation is always important.
Then there they were – a mass curved row in front of us – our BAME mentors, ready to mingle. This year, we had more mentors in our presence, including some returning faces, namely Satin Reid (MediaCom), Dara Nasr (Twitter), and Dino Myers-Lamptey (TBS) amongst others.
The conversations we had with the mentors ranged from how to deal with being the only person of colour in the office, how to create career steps if opportunities are lacking and what to do when offered that poisoned chalice of opportunity.
As always, the mentors were open with their pearls of wisdom and better still, human! It was highly empowering to be able to openly talk about experiences only a fellow BAME individual would understand.
With so many empowered individuals on yet another inspiring Speed Mentoring event, I stood up to exclaim that a BAME network of individuals such as ourselves was long overdue and it should start with us in that room. Hopefully, before the next BAME event I’ll be blogging about it.
My three top takeaways
“Do not be afraid to speak up if you are being overlooked. Cultivate an open communication with your line manager. Believe it or not there is someone in a senior position who will believe in you and fight for you.”Satin Reid, managing director, MediaCom
“What is your superpower? Use that to your advantage because that is your USP.”Mimi Turner, marketing and brand strategy consultant
“Beware the poisoned chalice of opportunity. If you are being offered what seems like a great opportunity with additional tasks that will have you over-juggling, get the extra responsibilities and expectations down on paper (including a salary increase), or kindly decline before it becomes a ‘performance’ issue. Only accept on your terms.”Collette Philip, owner, Brand By Me