On Thursday the 17th of October, the University of Nottingham welcomed back alumni Obianuju C Amamgbo, Lubna Essa, Michael Abiodun Olatokun and Charlotte Williams to discuss the BME experience and career success.
There were fears from the organisers that this would be a controversial topic. This did not turn out to be the case.
The panel of four guests introduced themselves by talking about their careers and how their life experiences had led them to that point. Obianuju C Amamgbo is a career coach trying to get people back into work for the Department for Work and Pensions; Lubna Essa recently moved to Google from Amazon, where she is a software developer; Michael Abiodun Olatokun leads senior law academics in piloting, testing and applying methods for assessing quality in higher education programmes; and Charlotte Williams champions diversity and equality at SevenSix, the marketing agency she founded.
Michael Abiodun Olatokun’s story earned applause from the room. He spoke of his experiences in school, specifically the moment that formed his path towards exploring the connection between rights, citizenship and education.
“Black people don’t earn as much because they don’t work as hard” is what a boy in his class has said.
Small group discussions covered the topics of the university’s pilot of blind shortlisting system when selecting candidates for interview, how many in the BME community feel they need to be overqualified for the jobs they apply for in order to combat affirmation bias, and working out ways to get conversations like these further out into the university community.
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