The Leaders Forum is a new initiative developed by Black British Academics that “aims to unite progressive thinkers from the higher education sector” and the University of Westminster will host the first annual event on October 8 at its prestigious Regent Street campus in central London.
Black British Academics Founder and Director, Dr Deborah Gabriel, describes the Leaders Forum as an ongoing mechanism for facilitating collaboration between university leaders and black and minority ethnic staff and students who would otherwise have little opportunity to influence policymaking around race equality:
“It will provide an open and constructive space in which to engage in meaningful dialogue, share best practice and develop new initiatives to improve race equality across the sector. I am delighted that our first ever event will be hosted at the University of Westminster and commend Professor Geoffrey Petts for demonstrating strong leadership on race equality.”
According to Dr Gabriel, the University of Westminster is the “ideal” institution to host its first Leaders Forum because race equality is embedded in its core values and mission and there is clear intent to work towards ethnic diversity within the university that reflects the demographics of London.
“The University of Westminster has a BME staff profile higher than the sector average and we acknowledge its commitment to help more BME staff progress into senior roles,” she says.
Commenting on the upcoming Leaders Forum, University of Westminster’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Geoffrey Petts says:
“The University of Westminster is delighted and honoured that Black British Academics will be holding its inaugural Leaders Forum at our University.
“We are keen to work collaboratively to develop a more open, accessible, higher education sector for the benefit of future generations of highly employable global citizens to shape our futures to 2050 and beyond.”
A number of complimentary places have been reserved for Gold and International members of Black British Academics, made up of staff and students within the higher education sector from all ethnic backgrounds that are keen to participate in various aspects of the organisation’s work.
PhD student Tokie Laotan-Brown, who is based in Italy, says that senior university staff have a crucial role to play in terms of facilitating change:
“We need diversity reflected in our leaders of thought, shaping the realities of today’s discourse.”
The Leaders Forum is an all-day programme of activities including guest speakers, workshops, open discussion, lunch and refreshments. It will be followed by a VIP Evening Reception with entertainment for invited guests from the media, politics and higher education sectors.