This is a diversity conversation for everyone. Each fortnight, guests from the world of business, culture and the arts drop in to discuss how we make diversity everyone's business. The podcast series explores how being different has shaped our guests, and how they believe difference can be embraced to drive positive cultural and commercial returns rather than division. The Speakeasier is inclusive by design.
With more than two decades of experience reporting on media and marketing, Sonoo Singh is one of the most well-known voices in advertising. Formerly editor at Marketing Week and The Drum, she is known for agenda-setting exclusives and high-profile interviews with industry figures from across the world. Today, Sonoo is the co-founder and editor of Creative Salon, a platform to showcase the power of commercial creativity and help nurture the next generation of diverse talent in advertising and marketing.Sonoo joins us to talk about the power of advertising to influence culture, and how content can be progressive and creative enough to cut through in a world where people pay to skip ads. She also gives her thoughts on how the industry can better position itself as a career option for underrepresented communities, and how the current class of advertising chiefs are creating a ‘new template of leadership’. Timestamps(01:31) - Sonoo’s Origin Story(06:46) - Creative Salon(11:57) - Advertising’s role in culture(15:30) - How to turn adverts into art(20:09) - Leaders perspective on ED&I(23:11) - Educating communities about advertising(27.05) - Advertising’s shame about selling(29.27) - AI and commercial creativity(35:27) - Rethinking leadership This episode was hosted by The Unmistakables’ Founder and CEO, Asad Dhunna, and Managing Director, Simone Marquis.This episode is available to watch along with full subtitles on YouTube.
In the third episode of The Speakeasier, we speak to one of the advertising industry's most acclaimed creative leaders, Chaka Sobhani.Chaka Sobhani is the Global Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett. Before joining the ad industry, Chaka spent over a decade as an award-winning filmmaker and in television. She set up ITV’s first in-house creative agency, during which time the network regained the no.1 position in the UK, before spending a number of years leading the independent agency Mother. Earlier this year, under her tenure Leo Burnett London won Campaign’s Agency of the Year and Chaka was named Creative Leader of the Year.In our conversation, Chaka explains why she believes that businesses need to prioritise ED&I as much as new business development, and how leaders can reckon with the time it takes to create meaningful inclusion. Chaka also reveals how her personal origin story drove her to want to tell stories to make others feel represented and connected. Timestamps(01:57) - Chaka’s origin story(07:34) - Finding connection through storytelling(14:38) - Leading with heart(18:58) - ED&I is as important as new business(21:31) - Are we talking less about diversity?(24:35) - Career growth and self-advocacy(30:53) - How to reflect as a creative leader(36:27) - Inclusive leadership post-pandemic(40:12) - What is the nirvana for ED&I? This episode was hosted by The Unmistakables’ Founder and CEO, Asad Dhunna, and Managing Director, Simone Marquis.This episode is available to watch along with full subtitles on YouTube.
From Bud Light to Costa Coffee, trans+ representation has consistently hit the headlines this year following several cases of backlash. In the second episode of our new season of The Speakeasier, we speak to campaigner and industry thought leader Marty Davies about the state of trans+ inclusion in advertising.Marty is the Joint CEO of Outvertising, the advertising industry’s LGBTQIA+ advocacy group and is co-founder of the grassroots community Trans+ Adland. Witnessing a coordinated backlash against trans+ talent in ads, Marty led Outvertising’s call for brands to stand their ground during Pride Month 2023. More than 120 organisations (The Unmistakables included) endorsed the intervention and the top 10 media agencies committed to divesting ad spend from disinformation in the media. Marty is also Campaign’s first transgender columnist and writes extensively about LGBTQIA+ experiences in advertising in her column, A Queer View.In our conversation, Marty gives her take on what businesses and advertisers can do to support trans+ communities and how organisations must become allies without putting the burden on trans+ colleagues. She also shares how an industry-wide fear of getting things wrong holds back inclusion and the importance of getting comfortable with the reality of our ignorance. Time stamps(03:42) - Marty and Outvertising’s origin story(07:12) - Advocacy and community exhaustion(12:12) - Bud Light backlash reaction(15:49) - What is allyship in advertising?(20:26) - Learning from ignorance(24:08) - Trans+ representation in advertising(30:06) - Retention and mental health(32:12) - Ad spend funding trans hate(38:27) - How to respectfully support trans+ talent This episode was hosted by The Unmistakables’ Founder and CEO, Asad Dhunna, and Managing Director, Simone Marquis.This episode is available to watch along with full subtitles on YouTube.
As the CEO behind Cannes Lions, Simon Cook has a viewpoint of the global creative community that gives him unique insight into the state of marketing today. Considered the largest gathering in the creative marketing space, Cannes Lions sets the global benchmark for creative excellence, especially through its prestigious and sought-after awards. The Unmistakables has worked with Lions as a strategic partner to embed equity, diversity and inclusion into the organisation and its initiatives. In the episode, we speak to Simon to discuss how Lions has gone beyond commitments to put ED&I into the heart of everything it does, and how recent inclusion efforts shaped this year’s festival and awards process.Simon is deeply passionate about creativity and is a tireless advocate for creative marketing excellence that drives business performance. In the conversation, Simon gives his thoughts on the changing nature of what is considered creative, the role of advertising in culture today, and whether advertisers and marketers should go back to the basics. Simon also explains how businesses are still stuck in a period of ‘unfreezing’ after the pandemic, and why business leaders need to think about ED&I in terms of relevancy. This episode was hosted by The Unmistakables’ Founder and CEO, Asad Dhunna, and Managing Director, Simone Marquis.To find out more about The Unmistakables and our work with Cannes Lions click here. This episode is available to watch along with full subtitles on YouTube. Timestamps:(01:30) - Simon’s origin story(06:00) - Innovating as a legacy brand(09:30) - Embedding ED&I in the heart of Cannes Lions(14:17) - Building the business case for creativity(19:02) - Does creative marketing matter in today’s culture?(22:35) - AI and the future of creativity(26:07) - Rethinking skills and definitions(29:15) - Being an introverted CEO(30:30) - Global fatigue and ‘unfreezing’ after the pandemic(34:40) - How to recharge
Journalist and Author Poorna Bell has been on a fascinating journey of strength. While dealing with the grief of losing her husband, she realised that she had always relied on him for physical strength, and wasn't able to flip her own mattress. She was inspired to get strong, and powerlifting became her medium.As a 5ft 3 South Asian woman, she talks us through adapting, growing and changing what her idea of strength is.Poorna's new book 'STRONGER: Changing Everything I Knew About Women's Strength' is a brilliant read for anyone looking for inspiration.Poorna's powerful stories of the importance of unlearning what we were told as a kid will inspire anyone; how we need to forget what we were once told we couldn't do. She also thinks we need to change how we as a society view strength. As part of that, she says that fitness has a huge lack of diversity and that physical strength should be more accessible to women.A big part of Poorna's journey started when she turned 40 - something she had been dreading. She had to reframe the experience of getting older and discover that potential doesn't stop when you age. She believes we need to identify places and communities that will help us on our journey. Now a competitive amateur power-lifter who can lift over twice her body weight, Poorna strongly believes that people are stronger than they realise. She says we rarely give ourselves credit for what we've overcome, to get to where we are.
Explorer and Entrepreneur Amar Latif lost 95% of his sight by the age of 18, but he didn't want that to stop him seeing the world. But he found that travel companies wouldn't cater to him, and most airline websites were inaccessible.
His refusal to be stopped by his sight led to him launching Travel Eyes, the world’s leading commercial tour operator offering independent group travel for both blind and sighted travelers.
His life now as an Entrepreneur, TV Presenter and world traveller has led to him meeting some incredibly interesting people and being humbled by humanity.
He talks us through his career from his first business venture aged 12, through to working on the "sexy side' of accounting and becoming a successful business owner.
He also teaches us about the language around visual impairment and why it's always best just to ask, and how we can be better allies to the visually impaired.
Our chat with Amar was funny, inspiring, energising and incredibly heartwarming.
This week on The Speakeasier we’re joined by author, academic and broadcaster, Emma Dabiri. Through years of research and interrogation of narratives around race and class, Emma has positioned herself as an essential point of reference on the subject, which is why we were so excited to bring her into our conversation.
In the episode, Emma gives us possibly one of the most condensed but fascinating history lessons we’ve ever had. Drawing on ideas from her debut book ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ (2019) and her most recent release ‘What White People Can Do Next’ (2021), her incredible research delves into our history and how we look at racism. Rather than creating constructive conversations, she believes a lot of the narrative around race actually adds to division. For example, we’re reminded that ‘race’ itself is merely a fictional construct, invented in 1661 through a set of slave laws in colonial Barbados. Understanding where this construct originates helps us to visualise a world without it.
In fact, Emma says there is no truth in racial categories, and that in order to really change we need to unpack the idea of 'whiteness'. She suggests that instead of focusing on anti-racism as an action, the spotlight should be placed on liberation.
Towards the end of the episode, we ask Emma what changes she would like to see in order for us to create liberation, closing a fascinating conversation which is sure to spark many, many more.
This week we’re joined by former Chief Prosecutor for the North West of England, Nazir Afzal OBE.
Nazir was the first practising Muslim to be appointed as Chief Prosecutor, putting him at the forefront of some of the UK’s most violent and harrowing legal cases. He was instrumental in getting justice for victims of grooming, sexual violence and child abuse, in cases including the Rochdale grooming gang and the earliest prosecution for so-called honour killing and modern slavery.
In the episode, Nazir talks to us about learned hate - the notion that racism, misogyny, homophobia etc are all learned and can therefore be prevented. Learnings which can lead to what he calls 'gender terrorism' - violence against women and girls as the result of the slow radicalisation of men. Misogyny and toxic masculinity being the learned thought-cycles which allow and encourage violence. Nazir explains how we can use our experience in tackling radicalisation to effectively fight gender violence.
He also talks more personally about his career, telling us about how he has had to battle with other people's attempts to pigeon hole him, how he navigates the pressure of being the voice for an entire community and why that makes it even more important that more people of colour are seen in high profile roles.
Nazir also mentions being on an Al-Qaeda death list, and keeping a panic alarm in his house. This is not your ordinary diversity conversation, that's for sure.
In this episode of The Speakeasier we're joined by Marcus Ryder MBE. Formerly Chair of the Royal Television Society’s Diversity Committee, Marcus has over twenty-five years’ experience working in television and journalism and is a leader on the issue of diversity in the media, making him a more-than-credible Speakeasier guest. We say this even before acknowledging his impressive portfolio of awards to date, including multiple BAFTAs and an MBE for services to diversity in the media. As if all that wasn’t enough, he was recently named Head of External Consultancies at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity at Birmingham City University.
While we can expect plenty more from Marcus in the future, already this year he has released a new book, Access All Areas - The Diversity Manifesto for TV and Beyond with Sir Lenny Henry. Combining the expertise and experience of the two, it has been considered a revolutionary manifesto, revealing why diversity in the media has such significance and how we can set about strengthening it.
We chatted to Marcus about what he thinks about terms such as ‘BAME’ and ‘diversity'. In fact, despite including the word 'diversity' in the title of his recent book, he actually thinks it's overused and that it often covers up much deeper issues, with a direct correlation between the uptake of the word 'diversity' and the downplaying of racism.
We also talk about the history of language, where Marcus helps us understand why small adaptations are often representative of a much bigger historical narrative.
Moving from language to the physical representation, we discuss the importance of representing an authentic picture of Britain, which Marcus reminds us is typically shown as white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cisgender and male, despite that making up only 3% of the nation’s capital.
Kicking off season two of The Speakeasier, we were thrilled to be joined by the original man of lycra, Mr Motivator AKA Derrick Evans MBE.
The man known as much for his bright unitards and impossibly enthusiastic personality as he is for his exercise routines, talks about the fitness industry and how it can leave people feeling left out; how it's become too expensive, too exclusive and too impersonal.
From the very beginning of the episode, Mr Motivator’s passion is obvious and his energy infectious. He explains why exercise needs to become part of our everyday lives in order for us to become the best possible versions of ourselves, and the inclusive environment this can create.
He talks us through the very start of his career; where he got his name and energy from and the secrets for his longevity. He is also open about the racism he faced early on in his career, some more blatant than others. We hear about how he converts this into an opportunity for positive change and success. With the obstacles he was up against, including being told a black man doing fitness on TV would never work, it took Mr Motivator ten years to get into television.
Looking ahead we ask if anything has changed and what he hopes to see for future generations. Among his answer, he doesn't want to be compared to Joe Wicks and has one thing to thank former US President Donald Trump for...
Our first episode of 2021 welcomes the author and broadcaster, Sathnam Sanghera. With the recent release of his new book, Empireland: How Modern Britain is Shaped by its Imperial Past, we look to Sathnam to help us understand how the things we aren’t taught about Britain are holding us back from a more inclusive future.
Sathnam talks unapologetically about our right to criticise the country we live in order to learn, accept and progress, and how to reach this point, our education systems must make radical changes to the way they approach British history.
We also discuss the perceptions of Britain from the outside, which aren’t as starry-eyed as they used to be. With major shifts in prosperity, Sathnam points out that - although it may come as a shock - people in India are not obsessed with the UK. A past notion which we are yet to shake.
Building on this, we discuss the right-wing’s war on wokeness, the role of business in picking up where government fails and how criticism of language can distract from what actually matters. Plus a lot more which it just wouldn’t be fair to condense into one paragraph.
Throughout the episode, Sathnam shows why an inclusive Britain can only be built by uncovering the multicultural foundations which are already there. We just haven’t been taught about it yet.
During a year that many businesses and individuals have been forced to reevaluate the way they think and act, how can we carve out a more diverse, purpose-driven design industry? On this episode of The Speakeasier we’re joined by award winning graphic designer and consultant, Greg Bunbury, to discuss the intersections of diversity, design and activism. We look back at some of the most active moments of 2020; the momentum of Black Lives Matter, the amplification of Black History Month and the shared experience of a national lockdown, to find out what lessons we can learn about the power of design activism, and how to carry them forward next year.
In this week’s episode of The Speakeasier we’re joined by actor, columnist, public speaker and disability campaigner Samantha Renke, to talk about why brands should stop holding back when it comes to the representation of disability in comms and campaigns. Throughout the episode, Sam injects endless humour and passion, drawing on her personal and professional experience to explain how optimised accessibility can benefit everyone. We also discuss the role that ego has in preventing true inclusion, and how a little bit of bravery can take business a long way.
In this episode of The Speakeasier, we chat with the glorious Asma Shah, founder and CEO of empowerment organisation You Make It, and advisor on the Mayor of London's Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion board. Asma is open about her experience of the negative effects of gentrification, solitude within her industry and first-hand racism. Now, she’s empowering young women to thrive in the working environment and showing others how to push back against racism, whatever form it takes. If you’re wondering how to put action against racism, this one is definitely worth a listen.
In episode 12 we talk to Sulaiman Khan, founder and Chief Purpose Officer at ThisAbility, a disability-led equity business that aims to change workplace culture by destabilising the accepted narratives of creativity and disability. We discuss how disabled people are inherently creative given they “hack” life everyday to overcome physical, social and attitudinal barriers. Sulaiman also offers practical advice to non-disabled people to facilitate creating connections with those with disabilities both in business and in life.
In episode 11 of The Speakeasier, we talk to Mursal Saiq, Founder and Director of Cue Point London, an inclusive barbecue catering company influenced by her Afghan background and her experiences growing up in London. Mursal discusses the power of food in creating spaces that can be shared by everyone, regardless of their identity, and the positive impact these shared spaces can create in society.
We talk to Jasvir Singh, co-founder of South Asian Heritage Month. From July 18th to August 17th, ‘SAHM’ is about celebration, commemoration and education of all things South Asian. 2020 marks its first year, and we speak to Jasvir about how the month came to be, and what he hopes it will do for South Asians both in South Asia, and the diaspora.
Jasvir is a qualified barrister in his day job, and sits on the leadership teams of a number of community organisations such as the Faiths Forum and City Sikhs.
In this week’s episode of The Speakeasier we talk to comedienne, BBC radio presenter and TV host, Judi Love. We discuss comedy’s place in the serious global troubles we face today, whether it can help heal cultural divides, examine the role it can play in helping tackle challenging societal issues, and how it can put a different spotlight on political debate.
With a current body of work that includes Celebrity Masterchef, Quarantine Date Night, Loose Women and BBC Radio London, Judi discusses the diversity of her audiences and together we discuss how she is fast becoming the embodiment of inclusivity for her fans.
In this episode of The Speakeasier we talk to Sheldon Mills, Interim Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at FCA and chair of Stonewall UK. Sheldon charts his journey from school to the boardroom, explaining the roles both family members and senior colleagues played in shaping and preparing him for leadership.
The conversations compares the progress of LGBT and Black communities in the workplace, explores whether businesses are looking hard enough to find Black talent, and explains the importance of nurturing leaders based on their own specific cultural needs.
In this week’s episode of The Speakeasier we speak to Elliott Rae about navigating race in the workplace. Elliott is the the founder of musicfootballfatherhood.com and the head of ‘Project Race’ - a UK government initiative that has been setup to improve the representation, performance outcomes and engagement of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) colleagues.
Elliott discusses the professional and personal impact of George Floyd’s murder and the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has led to him hosting 101 'Let's Talk Race: inclusion workshops' within his workplace. He also addresses the stereotyping Black fathers face and talks to us about why he set up a website that has been dubbed “the dads’ version of Mumsnet” by the BBC.
‘What is unconscious bias?’ - there’s been a spike in people Googling this question. We think the answer lies with our latest guest, Pragya Agarwal, author of Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias. As the Black Lives Matter movement has changed how we see ourselves and others, she helps us understand what bias is, and how it plays out in business, society…and ice cream choices.
Less than a month ago, a Black man in Minneapolis spoke his last words as he was murdered: “I can’t breathe.”
Since that day, many of us have begun to question whose voices we should really be listening to right now.
Two weeks ago, we were struck by a compelling new voice on the radio - a caller speaking out about racial issues during talk show host Iain Dale’s show on LBC. Denise Headley challenged the white, male prism of British media, gave her views on the industry’s lack of diversity, and offered herself up as its new voice.
We got straight on the case and invited her to come and be heard on The Speakeasier. Determined to continue to make diversity everyone’s business, we also asked Iain to rejoin the conversation.
In this episode, we bring together icons of the airwaves, old and new, in a lively discussion about race, politics, history and identity. Oh, and let’s not forget about the statues.
This episode takes us deep into the world of diversity and inclusion with a guest who has way more experience than most. Jan Gooding was formerly chair at Stonewall and held the position of Director of Inclusion at insurance brand Aviva before most people knew their D from their I.
Jan talks to us about the role of brands in Pride, how Black Lives Matters rallies have given the physical manifestations of Pride protests a temporary home during lockdown, and how focusing on inclusion rather than diversity may help to keep some people more engaged in the conversation.
In this episode we talk to TV presenter, author, campaigner, and director of creative diversity at the BBC, June Sarpong. The recording takes place against a backdrop of BAME communities around the world being disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, and Black Lives Matter rallies being held in response to the police killing of George Floyd.
With so much global inequality, unrest and uncertainty, we ask: Where does diversity and inclusion go from here?
Mohamed Mohamed, a British-Somali poet and football coach from south London, moved to London when he was a child to flee civil war in Somalia. In December 2019, he was commissioned by the Museum of London to make a film capturing the capital at the only time it ever fell silent - on Christmas morning. That was, of course, until the Covid-19 crisis struck just weeks later.
This episode explores what life has been like for a practicing Muslim man living through a Ramadan like no other, in lockdown away from family and friends. Mohamed shares his reflections of the religious holiday, explains what it’s all about, and puts his words into the poetry that he writes and performs so well.
Asma - who owns Darjeeling Express restaurant in London's Soho and was profiled on the sixth season of the Netflix documentary series Chef's Table - talks to us everything from all-female kitchens to allyship, Brexit to biryani, Covid-19 to curry.
We learn about using business as a social enterprise, how equal pay across all employees can drive inclusion, and how shouty chefs who berate women on primetime television need therapy. Asma shares her views on avoiding allowing culture to become narrow and nationalistic, the harmful jingoism of the Brexit campaign, and how the coronavirus crisis should help us all recognise that important role immigrants play in British society.
Business Insider named Asma “The Coolest Person in Food and Drink” in June 2019. If they hadn’t got there first, we would definitely have suggested that very same moniker.