Tue,28 Feb 2023

Session Descriptions: Make the Path by Walking it

Our third annual conference – Make the Path by Walking it – takes place on 21st March, and we have some fantastic keynote speakers and panellists joining us. Below, each element of the conference is described in detail. To view and download this as a document, please click here.


Keynote speaker, Nazir Afzal OBE, will talk about structural racism and how to fight it, as described in his new book, The Race to the Top‘, a powerful intervention, debunking the myth of progress in racial equality and offering an ambitious blueprint to fully unlock Britain’s potential.


In Conversation with Nazir: Structural Racism and How to fight it – Action and Reaction

Nazir will be joined by an expert panel of leaders drawn from the key sectors profiled in his book:  Criminal Justice System, Civil Society, Education, Politics, Enterprise or Film/Culture, Religion. The panel will react to the issues raised by Nazir and discuss concrete actions to implement and extend the blueprint for the future outlined in the book.

SESSION TWO: Roundtable discussions

Roundtable One: Anti-racist Wales 2030: a national vision – Marian Jebb

In June 2022, the Welsh Government published its Anti-racist Wales Action Plan. Co-constructed with ethnic minority communities and organisations, the plan sets out actions towards making Wales an anti-racist nation by 2030.

This workshop will explore how the Welsh Government is working with the further education sector, and partners including the Black Leadership Group, to make the vision a reality.  It will aim to identify early lessons that could be transferable to other contexts and sectors.  Participants will discuss progress to date, the challenges involved, and help to shape future priorities and practical steps for establishing an anti-racist culture across all Welsh colleges. 

Roundtable Two: Creating new narratives for Black Leadership in Britain – Yiannis Chrisostomidis

With support from the RSAthe Ubele Initiative and Reos Partners have embarked on a transformative scenario process that uses art and storytelling to stimulate visions and to create new narratives in Britain’s public imagination about the future of Black Leadership. 

– What does the future hold for black leadership in Britain?
– What are the main archetypes of black leadership that are present or are lacking now that we need to activate in the future?
– What role does “making the path by walking it” play in all this?
This session will present some initial findings and artefacts from the work, explore some of the above questions and host an interactive and creative session with participants, outputs from which might also serve as inputs into the broader process. 

Roundtable Three: Using the Employee Life Cycle to make a difference -Grace Haynes

Coventry City Council have a focus on Diversity & Inclusion and have now included more work on Anti-racism. This session will demonstrate how HR professions/organisations can use each of the 6 stages of the Employee Life Circle – Attraction; Recruitment; Onboarding; Development; Retention; Separation to embed this work. The session will also showcase the City Council’s Talent Development programme called ‘Ignite.’

Roundtable Four: Building trust and taking authentic action – Lydia Samuel and Georgina Crean

Jisc colleagues will be outlining their anti-racism approach and work to date, which has been centred around building trust with colleagues and taking authentic actions. Colleague engagement has been key, as well as having defined actions, underpinned by policy and a multifaceted approach to culture change.

Jisc is the first non-education BLG affiliated organisation.

Roundtable Five: Senior leaders and Board Chairs challenging the ‘Black Paradox’ – Pat Carvahlo and Steven Belling

Building on themes  from the BLG Annual Conference in 2022 –Challenging the Black Paradox, the principal and the chair of Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet) will be leading this hot topic exploring the impact of strategic leadership in this space. Birmingham is officially one of the youngest and most diverse cities in the UK. BMet is trying a range of things in line with the Black Leadership Group’s 10 Point Plan to develop its anti-racist approach recognising that it’s on journey that is not a straight path.  The constant challenge is to retain the urgency and focus to do the right thing by all learners and staff particularly when things go wrong which have the potential to reinforce the optics of ‘no change’.   Please join this roundtable to share and explore how as chairs and senior leaders we can positively challenge the Black Paradox to make sustainable change for all our learners and staff.

SESSION THREE: Presentation and Panel Conversation

Ethnic Representation Index: A new annual appraisal of the progress made by universities in England to become Anti-racist institutions- Professor David Mba.

David will present his ground-breaking research which showcases data from every English University and challenges the lack of action to back up public commitments to diversity and the absence of any way of monitoring overall progress. David will then lead a discussion on next steps with a panel of senior leaders and academics in Higher Education.

SESSION FOUR: Showcase presentations

4.1: LEAD Equity by Design  – collaborative innovation to co-create London’s integrated workforce – David Kester

The economic case for designing equity into business is well-made. Diverse organisations perform better,
have higher workforce satisfaction, secure better financial returns, and are more innovative. Despite these
good arguments, systemic barriers to representation and progression in the workforce persist, leaving UK businesses missing out on great talent and drive.

In the US, new company and sectoral intervention models have gained momentum combining aspects of existing D&I, and anti-racism practice with the participative and collaborative features of user-led design. In the UK, the BLG and design company DK&A are working with leading employers to accelerate innovation using this interdisciplinary approach.
During our conference session, David will share the foundations of Equity by Design including new work in progress, such as the Mayor of London’s Design Lab for 30 top London employers. David will be joined by two panellists, leading innovation expert, Coach and Design Director at DK&A, Susana Osorio and Amarjit Basi, coFounder & Director of the BLG.

4.2: Anti-racist Wales leading the way: Crafting an Authentic Anti-racist Curriculum – Yusuf Ibrahim

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’ Nelson Mandela

If education is the weapon, the curriculum is its ammunition.  What we teach, who we learn about, the contextual settings we bring together, all have a profound impact on our understanding of the world and how we fit in.

If we are to agree with the principle that ‘history is written by the winners’, then we must also contend that our curriculum is designed and written by the same authors.

This session will outline Wales’ bold attempt to create an ‘unfiltered’ curriculum for the further education sector.  One which aims to cast light on the histories, contributions and identities of our Black and Minority Ethnic communities.  A curriculum that engages in an enlightening, shared understanding of the world. It will provide an overview of the methodological approach in creating an Anti-racist curriculum and showcase the first of its kind Anti-racist virtual world.

SESSION FIVE: BLG Signature Keynote Presentation

A critique of the Equality Act 2010 – Robin Landman OBE and Amarjit Basi

Why does racism persist? Reflecting on the past and pressing forward towards the future, this Signature Presentation will explore the impact of the Equality Act 2010 and next steps  for racial equity.


Conference Chair, Lesley Shepperson, will summarise and close the conference.

To download the Session Descriptions document, please click here.

To view the full conference programme, please click here.