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March 22nd, 2018 : The Royal Geographical Society, London

Sir Lenny Henry

Comedian & Diversity Campaigner

Time: TBC

We need real inclusion not fake diversity in the workplace

Sir Lenny Henry has risen from cult star on children's television to one of Britain's best-loved comedians, and is also an actor, writer, blues singer and co-creator of Comic Relief. He was awarded a knighthood for services to drama and charity in 2015, and in 2016, added the BAFTA Television: Special Award to a raft of other plaudits.

Lenny made his West End acting debut in Othello at the Trafalgar Studios, winning the London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Newcomer; in 2017, he starred in an adaptation of Brecht's The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui. His acting credentials also include a key role in the third series of hit ITV show Broadchurch.

Alongside his work, Lenny is currently studying for a PhD in screenwriting at Royal Holloway. He is an active campaigner on workforce diversity and social mobility agendas.

Session Overview

We need real inclusion not fake diversity in the workplace

In today's chaotic world, with racist attacks on the rise and social media frenzies fuelling extreme world views, the need for all voices to be heard is more important than ever. Diversity isn't a luxury, it is essential. But in order to make this a reality and promote meaningful change around perceptions of race, gender, disability and social background, a new kind of leadership is needed.

If leaders don't take it seriously, diversity falls by the wayside. It's so much easier to go with what you know, rather than seek out someone new, different and challenging.

Sir Lenny Henry will draw on his personal experiences of representation in the media industry, which he argues is at 'crisis level', to call on employers to change the way they promote diversity and inclusion in business. If we cannot create meaningful inclusion in our workplaces, there is little chance of this becoming a reality across wider society.

While we are living in times of great change, there are always opportunities, and the time is ripe for leaders to re-invent themselves too. Sir Lenny will also discuss his own evolution from a firebrand comedian to a serious actor, highlighting the importance of continuous education, and why transforming skills and inclusion for the world ahead is the responsibility of us all.

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