In the 1700 – 1800’s, Bristol was a city renowned for profiting from the Transatlantic Slave Trade, an industry credited with fuelling the industrial revolution. As a result of this unwanted legacy in May 2020 its residents decided to controversially dump the statue of ‘Bristol’s ‘revered’ Founding Father’ Edward Colston into the docks. This echoed both across the city with many buildings removing the Colston name, as well as across the country and world as more statues fell and FTSE 250 companies apologised for their links to slavery.
In 1964, Sir Roy Hackett, Sir Paul Stephenson, Owen Henry, Audley Evans and Prince Brown marshalled Bristol’s 3,000-strong Caribbean community to boycott the cities buses. They marched to battle for jobs, fairness, representation and to defeat the colour bar. As a result of their victory, it inspired a monumental legacy in the form of the first ever Race Relations Act 1965, now better known as the Equalities Act 2010. It’s worth noting that on the same day that the Bristol Bus Boycott battle was won some 3,563 miles away, under the Abraham Lincoln statue, Martin Luther King addressed the world with his “I Have A Dream” speech.
In 2016 – Bristol became the first city to disrupt the leadership status quo by boldly electing a working class lad who grew up on a council estate in a single-parent home. More than that, Marvin Rees became Europe’s first-ever elected Black Mayor at his second attempt.
The common thread that underpins all of these amazing stories is the individual and collective audacity to step-up to be heard, to be seen, to be understood and to resiliently lead on the change that they wanted to see.
Undoubtedly we all stand on the shoulders of giants and Bristol is a city blessed with change-makers, trailblazers and creators who have contributed to a better world than the one they inherited. However, before we get complacent about our many advancements, as the Runnymede, Parker Review, Charities So White and the Governments Race Disparity Reports all point out, widespread inequalities and injustices remain in many of our civic, charitable and commercial organisations.
So with the need being as great if not greater than ever, the big question for you as aspiring leaders is, what’s your leadership legacy?
This answer deserves meaningful consideration as it needs to be aligned with your values, passions, availability and appetite for ambition. However one oven-ready solution for serious consideration should be to sign-up as a BeOnBoard candidate.
Help change the face of Bristol’s board’s by applying for some of the great boardroom vacancies.
By joining a board you bring invaluable cultural intelligence, insights and ideas that will help shape the decisions, strategies and allocation of resources that make a difference to people’s everyday lives. You will also strengthen and stretch your leadership muscles, widen your networks of influence, whilst gaining invaluable hard and soft skills to help advance your career. Importantly, every step of the way BeOnBoard will support you through your leadership journey.
Together we can disrupt to deliver on diversity.