Ok where do I actually even begin?
Do I begin in 2003 when our first Chair and I sipped chilled pints of Hoegaarden with a slice of lemon in the Dragon pub in Kemptown in Brighton, plotting to set up a training and consultancy company?
Or do I begin with my return to the south west of England in 2007 and bumping into a commissioner I knew in the 1990’s in Bristol, who was asking what I was doing now and passing over my business card?
Or do I begin in 2012 when two colleagues and I sent the incorporation application to Companies House and opened the bank account.
There have been so many steps to get to where we are today.
There are also so many people and organisations to thank. But a very special “thank you” has to go to my fellow social justice warrior and power house, who has been officially confirmed as my actual professional spouse! I first approached Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI) in the late 1990’s, following the change in criminal justice law, after the Steven Lawrence Enquiry and publication of the McPherson Report. At the time, SARI were primarily focussed on race and religion and I wanted to find a way to work together, collaboratively, on homophobic hate crimes and supporting victims. It took many years, but we got there with the launch of Bristol Hate Crime & Discrimination Services. I’m proud to see that thriving.
Or should I go way, way back to when we set up Freedom Youth Bristol in 1995. Now the longest continuously running LGBT youth project in the country. Twenty-seven years on and now housed with Off the Record and absolutely thriving. An amazing social action project, to be really proud of.
This event today is a celebration of the ten-year anniversary of the Diversity Trust, but this journey didn’t start in 2012. I had been working for almost ten years before that to establish myself in the diversity space and eventually establishing the company.
So why did we incorporate in 2012? I knew that the work was much bigger than just me. And once we had developed the brand it was important to protect the brand, and identity, so incorporation made sense. I’d operated up to 2012 as a sole trader and, whilst that was good, it had limitations.
If we were to achieve our mission of creating a fairer and safer society, I knew I couldn’t work alone. I needed people and organisations to partner and collaborate with.
There have been some amazing highs and some truly awful lows, but on balance this work is incredible and it’s impactful. When people say “but what do you actually do” I sometimes recoil, I sometimes struggle to articulate. In the early days, people didn’t really understand when I said the word “equality”. But the world has changed. Dare I say the world has caught up! In 2010, the Equality Act became statute and this single act really consolidated and legitimised most of our work, our purpose and mission.
I now need to champion the brilliant work of our various teams:
The Race & Bias Team is currently made up of 30 really passionate and dedicated consultants. I personally thank each and every one of them. You are all absolute stars and so, so very appreciated. The Trans & Non Binary Team which has been led by some amazing people and with wonderful support staff. Also, our youth and community work team – three amazing young people who make and keep me both proud and humble. But also the organisation wouldn’t function without the incredible daily and ongoing support of our Admin and Business Support Team. And of course to the keepers of the purse who carefully and calmly watch over our financial well-being. And keep us all calm to carry on!
Thank you to our ever expanding and amazing clients, donors, funders, sponsors and supporters. We have gone from being known as “the Bristol based organisation” to the U.K. based organisation to a globally recognised and respected organisation. We now have clients from as far afield as the Americas (North and South), Asia, Africa, Europe and Australasia. One recent corporate donor put us alongside United Nations Women and the Disaster Emergency Committee.
We now have a social media reach of over 10,000 followers and our client list is quite frankly eye watering! This impact has been made possible by the constant, uber professional, curation of our communications team; take a look at our website, I think you’ll be impressed.
The media… in the last two weeks alone we have featured in People Management, Business Insider, Stylist, Ericsson, Metro, Huffington Post, Yahoo News, the Independent and the Financial Times. We collectively really are making quite an impact.
My heartfelt thanks also go to our Board. Our Chair, whose support, over the last couple of years particularly, has been massively appreciated. I would be on the floor right now if it wasn’t for the support I have received. It’s tough at the top!
We have said farewell to some brilliant people from the Board, over the years; I thank them all for the generosity of their time, support and commitment. A new generation of Board members is joining us this year, at our annual meeting in London in October. I am excited to welcome each of them – literally on board!
And finally thank you to all of you for celebrating with us and supporting this amazing organisation. Here’s to the next ten years and beyond.