Let’s Talk About Racism – #BlackLivesMatter

Posted on July 1, 2020

Since our launch in 2017, race has been an important topic on DiverCity Podcast. In light of the death of George Floyd triggering demonstrations and protests in the United States and around the world, raising deep seated concerns about systemic racism and spotlighting the Black Lives Matter Movement, we have interrupted our planned schedule to bring you this Special Extended Episode.

Host Julia Streets is joined by Dr. Funke Abimbola MBE, Chief Executive Officer at the Austen Bronte Consultancy; Paul Monekosso Cleal OBE, Executive Director at Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Kingston University and National Citizen Service Trust and an adviser to Sainsbury’s and FA Premier League; Donna Herdsman, award winning Professional Services Executive, Mentor and Career Coach and Reggie Nelson, Graduate Analyst at Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM). They discuss institutional racism, black representation and retention, what organisations and leaders can do to recognise racism, challenge behaviours and drive change, the language of race, and how best to attract and retain black talent in the financial services industry.

Previous DiverCity Podcast Episodes for reference:

Lets Talk About Race #TalkAboutBlack // Live Recording – We Need To Talk About Race // Leadership, Race and Recruitment // People, Policy and Progress: The Importance of Gender // Equality and Ethnic Minority Representation // Recruitment Through The Lens of Social Mobility and Returners


Donna Herdsman

Donna Herdsman is an award winning Professional Services Executive & Mentor and Career Coach.

She has over 30 years experience as a management consultant and as an Executive having worked for and with both UK and overseas Public and Private Sector organisations. She specialises in helping clients realise the business benefits from transforming their business and their technologies. The major roles of her career have been at London the Borough of Lambeth, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, IBM and Hewlett Packard Enterprise and has acquired strategic, operational and change management expertise following my senior roles in consultancies and IT organisations.

Donna has an Advanced Diploma in Strategy and Innovation from Said Business School, Oxford, a Business Studies Degree, from London South Bank University and is a qualified accountant (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy). 

In 2016, Donna was included in the inaugural EMpower (US, UK and Ireland) 100 BAME executive list.  She was also one of the 100 Senior BAME executives in 2019/20, by EMpower and Yahoo Finance. She is passionate about developing other people by mentoring and coaching (TechUPWomen winners of an Impact Award in June 2020 employment and digital skills category), and she won the First Woman Mentor of the Year award in 2017. Donna believes in supporting the development of our young talent of the future via her role as a School Governor and now as a new judge for the Aleto Foundation Leadership Programme. Donna has been a Judge for the Black British Business Awards for seven years and one of the co-founders highlighted that her experience of ‘helping her find her voice’ when they worked together had been one of inspirations contributing to her establishing the BBBA awards.

Donna also presented at the EU, House of Commons and for Inclusive Companies on STEM, on the role for proactive leadership for driving diversity and inclusion in IT. Donna has been featured over the years in a number of publications: CIPFA; Business in the Community; Empower, Computer Weekly; Precious Online by way of example.

You can follow Donna on Twitter @dmsenterprise

Funke Abimbola

Dr. Funke Abimbola MBE is the Chief Executive Officer at the Austen Bronte Consultancy.

Funke is a performance driven, C-suite leader and healthcare executive with twenty years’ professional experience. Most notably, she has worked as a senior, C-suite leader for Roche, the world’s largest biotech company.

A passionate and committed strategic and operational business leader, Funke leads by example and firmly believes in putting people at the heart of decision-making, driving higher productivity and engagement, performance and delivery. Her first career in law has ensured high standards of governance, compliance and risk management, steering organisations through uncertain times. Funke has successfully leveraged this foundation to develop as a commercial, business leader.

Outside her day job, Funke is a recognised equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) leader with a strong track record in the field. In March 2019, she was appointed as a Champion for Action as part of Grant Thornton International’s global diversity campaign, challenging gender-based barriers to career progression including recruitment bias. As part of the Law Society’s Women in Law Group, she contributed to the success of the largest ever international survey of its kind, resulting in the Law Society’s ‘Influencing for impact’ report with practical recommendations for increasing gender diversity across the global legal profession.

Funke provides mentoring and sponsorship to support a pipeline of diverse talent and holds a number of non-exec roles within the diversity space. She has a grassroots approach to driving change and provides talks to approximately 2,000 school children annually.

A regular media contributor for the BBC, Funke has been filmed for the First 100 Years Project celebrating 100 years of achievements by prominent women in law. She is also a notable alumnus of her alma mater, Newcastle University. Her leadership and influence have also been recognised by the Financial Times who listed her as being one of the top 15 ethnic minority leaders globally. The Prime Minister awarded her ‘Point of Light’ status in 2016 due to the positive impact of her EDI work. In 2017, she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for services to diversity and young people. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Hertfordshire in 2019 for contributions to social and corporate diversity.

Funke is currently completing MBA studies with the Wharton Business School. Alongside this, she is embedding her MBA learning whilst leveraging her experience to date by providing board advisory services through her consultancy, the Austen Bronte Consultancy.

She will be resuming her full-time career later this year.

You can follow Funke on Twitter @Champ1Diversity

Paul Monekosso Cleal

Paul Monekosso Cleal OBE, is currently a non executive director at Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Kingston University and National Citizen Service Trust and an adviser to Sainsbury’s and FA Premier League. Until 2017 for 16 years he was a partner at PwC, the global professional services firm, where he served on the Management Boards of the firm in both the UK and in Africa. He also provided corporate finance and consulting advice to clients across various industries including the public sector and financial services. Paul has worked in both local and central government, been a board member of the Government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission and still works with a number of London schools. These roles reflect his interest in public services and issues of inequality. He has for many years been involved in diversity and inclusion in business and was recognised for his work in that area in the most recent New Year’s Honours List.

You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulMCleal

Reggie Nelson

Reggie Nelson is most recognised by the media as the young man who went ‘from East London to the City’. He graduated with an economics degree while studying Mandarin alongside his degree. On his journey, Reggie completed five internships including a spring and two summer internships at BlackRock, Aberdeen Standard Investments and Armstrong Investment Managers.

Reggie is a Graduate Analyst, rotating across Client Business and Investments at Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM), Chair of the ACCA Emerging Talent Advisory Group, youth mentor for one of the largest youth networks in the UK, and is described by the Theresa May the former Prime Minister as a “persistent and inspiring young person”.

You can follow Reggie on Twitter @ReggieNelson_10