Celebrate firsts but don’t stop there, take up your space in the room and talk about money! King’s Business School celebrated Black History Month with an evening of ‘Amplified voices: saluting sisterhood’.
Speakers Sonia Brown MBE, Founder & Director of The National Black Women's Network, Dawn Butler, Member of Parliament for Brent Central, Tobi Oredein, Founder of Black Ballad and King’s graduate, Ijeoma Chuku, BSc in Business Management student and Intern at L'Oreal, and Lord Shaun Bailey of Paddington shared their reflections on what sisterhood means as well as advice to inspire the next generation.
We shouldn’t forget how far we have come, we shouldn’t forget the contribution of the people who fought those battles. We shouldn’t forget who opened the door for us, or that we need to open the door for others.Sonia Brown MBE, Founder & Director of The National Black Women's Network
The evening was packed full of insight and inspiration, including practical tips from Sonia Brown on the value of mentors, how to make the most out of networking, and having a plan for your career. She also emphasised the importance of talking about money and understanding financial issues as the foundation for future success.
Tobi Oredein explained the challenges of finding funding for Black Ballad, her online publication for Black British women and why crowd-funding turned out to be the right source for her; ‘investors are pattern matchers and I don’t look like the typical ‘bro’ who is asking you for £50,000. Investors didn’t get the need for my product.’ She also explained that a crucial part of the impact of Black Ballad has been ‘getting Black women writers used to asking for payment for their writing.’
Lord Bailey also took up the theme of asking for financial recognition: ‘there’s no point in being visible if you don’t have money’.
From her perspective of taking her first steps in her career, Ijeoma Chuku encouraged businesses not to stop at having just one senior Black woman represented, pointing out that:
The ‘firsts’ in the UK are often not the first globally, it’s normal elsewhere.Ijeoma Chuku, BSc in Business Management student and Intern at L'Oreal
Ijeoma also highlighted the risk that underrepresentation at senior levels can mean that Black women in the workplace are sometimes expected to be an expert on the needs of all Black women. Tobi Oredein, echoed this point, explaining that giving a voice to multiple voices is one of the guiding principles of Black Ballad:
We have to consider the identities within the community; disabled people, regional communities are a big focus for Black Ballad. One woman can’t be the spokesperson for change – it’s too much for them, but also, it’s only one person’s experienceTobi Oredein, Founder, Black Ballad
Dawn Butler MP discussed her experiences in politics, as well as giving advice to aspiring MPs. She concluded by reminding the audience that:
Black women share the burden of having to work twice as hard (to get in the room) and need to recognise that must mean we are twice as good.Dawn Butler MP