Its 2021 and it feels a new dawn in so many ways, life has been reset during the pandemic for almost all of us, and amid all the change, I’m hearing a unique noise which is amplifying every single minute. And unlike most noise, it’s a sound that I don’t want to quiet.
I’ve never it experienced before. Honestly, not in all my lifetime. But its breathtakingly refreshing, and its close – it’s in my inner and outer circle and its growing at exponential speed.
It’s the loud, unapologetic, brutally honest resounding voice of the Black woman. I’m not talking Michelle Obama, Oprah or Beyonce. It’s women I know. Normal, everyday women who are redefining the boundaries of what is considered ‘normal’ who are seizing life & opportunity and manifesting what they desire without compromising who they are.
I think there are several reasons for this but the biggest one is, in the light of global awareness of societal inequity for Black and Ethnically diverse individuals, it is our newly found freedom to be confidently vocal – to loudly speak of what we need and desire and to own the self-belief that changes the way we live and work.
Never have I been so inspired & lifted by knowing & meeting the women in this article. They are shifting and repositioning the ideology and conditioning that makes us believe that success is working for someone else or having one interest, one career route or one goal. This newly found liberty is enabling us to experience the freedom to speak up, achieve, proactively do, and seize opportunities in a way that we have never done before and more importantly that have never been presented to us this way before.
There is no denying that it is harder for women than men in almost every aspect of our lives, and against a myriad of social issues, the one the that is the most impactful is the gender pay gap. Men are at the top of the hierarchical structure of society and particularly white men being at the upper echelons of power, influence, and privilege and most certainly almost from birth are taught that this is their right.
And in terms of intersectionality, we know it is even harder for marginalized Black women. Look at the ethnicity pay gap reporting if you remotely find yourself questioning this. We deserve more opportunities, more money & wealth and more observational credit.
Which is why this ‘noise’ needs to be celebrated and acknowledged on a ‘off the chart’ way. It’s incredible what these women are achieving.
Take Kadie Glenn for example. I met her for the first-time last week. By chance we sat next to each other at ‘team drinks’ (remember those pre-covid? They are still as good btw albeit the hangover is real) and I was immediately drawn to her. Whip smart, eyes that shine vividly and brightly with a warm, funny, and ultimately genuine personality.
But I think it was the power of her voice that struck me, her confidence and ability to hold her narrative on gender and ethnicity so strongly and loudly as a young Black woman. And young is a relative point, only in her early 20’s, she the ‘Head of Digital and Community at GirlDreamer, a Consulting Analyst at ‘The Upside’ an amazing tech start up and the founder and Podcast host of ‘Workthrive’. ‘Workthrive is a movement for a new generation of entrepreneurial women redefining the meaning of work on their own terms. Kadie shares candid conversations with trailblazing women who have redefined their meaning of work and success. From female founders to movement makers and thought leaders, these women share their struggles, celebrate their successes and grace us with their learnings’.
She is one to watch people.
Podcast ‘WorkThrive’. Available to listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music and Spotify.
Then there is Jaspreet Kaur, a phenomenal woman who is trailblazing in ways that will literally blow your mind. Not only is she a spoken word artist from East London and known as ‘Behind the Netra’ for her poetry, but she is also a History and Sociology teacher, writer, and performer. From the minute we started talking I was memorised by her and our conversation on how she is tackling mental health stigma, gender discrimination and telling her story loudly as an Asian woman.
As her LinkedIn states she has won ‘the Asian Women of Achievement Award by Women of the Future in the Arts and Culture category, winning the ‘We Are The City’ Rising Star Award for her work in Education and Academia, being shortlisted for the National Diversity Award for being a Positive Role Model and finally being voted one of the Top 10 Inspirational Sikh Women in the UK’. On a performance level, she has smashed it – performing at Westminster Abbey, London City Hall, the House of Lords with appearances on BBC One Sunday Morning Live and Radio 4, has featured in Stylist Magazine and The Metro and the list goes on. But I didn’t even need to see these accolades to recognise she has a voice that eventually all people will hear globally and need to listen to if they want to further develop their understanding and education particularly on what it means to be a South Asian woman and all the issues that go with that in 2021.
On a personal level, having only spent an hour in her company, we relayed our stories both highs and lows and she gifted me courage. Courage to continue levelling up on with my own journey with ‘Amp up Your Voice’ and my pursuit for equity as a writer, educator, speaker, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Her first book ‘A Brown Girl Like me’ which is due to be released in Autumn this year with publishers Pan Macmillan.
http://www.behindthenetra.com/ | Instagram: @behindthenetra
Serena Wilson AKA known as Bootsy is a friend of mine and we go way back, coming in and out of each other’s lives at amazing touch points and forever connected through other great friends,
I have always looked up to her as someone who knows their own mind and is soft inside but oh so strong. I have the most admiration for her strength of character.
Both of us hit the professional glass ceiling particularly hard in late 2019/2020. I remember sitting on her sofa and us whilst both happy in the moment we sat there and wondered what would become of us. These women who had so much to give and nowhere to direct it, when the rug was horribly pulled from under our feet.
But guess what, she has taken all of her, her experience, her personal values, her amazing creativity, her eye for fashion, her undying love for music and utilised the crap out of it to start her own clothing design business and its incredible.
In her own words ‘Hail the dreamers! Without a penny without a plan’. Her very own Black owned business showcasing handmade beautiful garms. If you know you know!
When people ask me about Amanda Dickens and who she is, it’s difficult to know where to begin because she is such a confident woman, a leader, an inspiration – so I normally say ‘she is a force, that is who she is’. We met after Covid hit and I was at a crossroads in my life. My executive coach at the time, a friend of Amanda’s, suggested we spoke as likeminded women.
From never having spoken a word we hit it off immediately and spent almost 2 hours on zoom, the energy most certainly didn’t lie. Her as a mixed-race Asian woman, myself as a Black woman we have combined our lived experience, professional expertise, knowledge, and competence to work together in the equality, diversity & inclusiveness space. Educating senior leadership boards, we mentor and coach and are currently building a proposition to move the narrative forward.
She has also an experienced board member of Capital City College Group, venture builder and former Big 4 strategy consultant with over 25 years’ experience in building and leading new technology start-ups. Amanda has such a strong commitment to education and lifelong learning.
But alongside these superpowers, for me, her most inspirational impact is her personal journey. At 14 her son came out as transgender. As one of the most supportive of parents I know she has guided, helped, and navigated the journey with him and continues to do so. Her honesty and bravery on their journey are awe inspiring, educational and I have already learnt so much on an area which I had little first-hand experience or real prior knowledge.
Amanda, alongside all the amazingness of who she is and does, is now writing a book to help other parents who are on or embarking on that same journey with their transgender child.
I can’t wait to read it.
And last but by no means least I present Claudia Crawley. Claudia Crawley is an author, anti-racist activist, career coach, and an executive coach for women social work managers.
We haven’t even met in person yet. But two weeks ago, we both sat on the ‘Black British Networks’* round table – if you don’t know about these please check it out! We had a fantastically insightful, honest, and open discussion on moving the narrative forward for real equity for Black people.
But for some reason, amongst 14 other people, we both felt each other’s energy across that Zoom.
You know the one where you just know that person is going to be something to you, with you and for you. I was unsure of which. But we connected offline and chatted for a good hour. We recognised that we both saw something in each other, for me her measured leadership aura which had me listening to her every word, for her, my message on equality, optimism, and drive. She has also created ‘Winning Pathways Coaching’ and she says ‘Despite my focus on women, I’m not exclusive. I frequently work with men and women from other professions. My mission is to change the world one woman at a time. When we can contribute more worldwide, I believe the world will benefit as male and female energy will be much more balanced. I also, develop people to become anti-racist allies as black and white alike need to work collaboratively to make the world more equal’.
She has nailed my ultimate ethos of #womensupportingwomen.
Our personal and professional values align, and our energy is unique. I think we have made lifelong friends. And we are meeting for lunch in a couple of weeks!
Her first 2 books were co-written anthologies: ‘Winning in Life and Work’ and ‘The Power of Being a Woman’; the 3rd, written by solely by is called ‘Ordinary Women doing Extraordinary Things: Five ways to add extra to ordinary.’
Claudia is currently writing her 4th book, ‘Undeterred: The Success Equation of Women of Black and Asian Heritage’.
Instagram: CrawleyClaudia, Twitter: @ClaudiaWPC, www.winningpathwayscoaching.com
*Inspired by Cephas Williams’ ‘Letter to Zion’, this is a safe space for people within the Black community to speak, for leaders and decision makers to listen, be educated and contribute; and for this shared experience to help mobilise efforts towards making a tangible difference across the board. Please do get involved if you authentically want the economic advancement of the Black community and make fundamental change happen! @The Black British Network
@Cephas Williams, #BBNRoundtableConversations, #TheBlackBritishNetwork
*I use Black as a term that encompasses all Black and Ethnically Diverse People.