Resources Article

How it all starts, is with a journey

Inclusive Cultures is part of Clore Leadership's Inclusive Leadership delivery for Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership programme, which prioritises activities to address existing gaps in diversity in the leadership of culture.

How it all starts, is with a journey, a need to go from where you are to where you want to be.

For me it was the Midlands, it was being the oldest in a Jamaican family. Being brought up by my mother. The expectation was that of any other first female Jamaican child: cook, clean, look after siblings, look after the house, work…. Etc etc.

So it didn’t matter that at the age of 13 I decided to stop wearing a false arm. Or that I was obsessed with theatre and acting, or that I was trying to be a world class athlete, or even that I was in the church choir. Family care came first, and was THE priority.

Skipping forwards; I didn’t make it as an athlete, didn’t win the Oscar, the TONY or the Emmy. No Eastenders for me. Not for want of trying or quality in my outputs. Just pure and simply because I look the way I look. I sound the way I sound. I am the size I am.

I couldn’t stop and procrastinate though. I needed to earn money to live, to contribute. I had family. If the path I wanted was not to be, a new one was to be made. And thus it was, me laying down the track as I was designing and creating it. Managing mainstream theatres, touring in disability theatre, being the FIRST in so much of what was happening.

This approach got me to where I am now, the day job. CEO of a business that leads the UK broadcasters, production community and training providers in diversity, immersed in creating a new thing and bringing people along. Which sometimes is actually fun! I got used to the idea that if that was the end of my journey then so be it.

But the last 15 months have taught me things are never done.

That’s because the very last meeting I had before COVID locked us down was March 2020 with Sarah Pickthall. She had come to ask me if I was interested in being involved in Coaching Conversations – an initiative that she was plotting with Clore Leadership.

Now, I had been a coach for a long time and I had never really used my coaching, not one to one anyway, as I was more a group coach. That was where I thrived, at least so I had convinced myself. So this invitation was really quite interesting. I was intrigued as to where it would go. Despite all of what happened last year, Sarah and Jamie encouraged and convinced me to take part in inclusive conversations and it opened up so much more of me. It was like getting back on my original journey track.

I had never thought about being a disabled person and a coach – the two hadn’t really ever come together for me. I’d never thought about the implications of that either for me or for other people and my clients. It was a genuine revelation to me, and there isn’t much that I’m surprised by in life now at the grand old age of 950!

What resonated about it was I got the chance to present the world that I know, that I live in and experience. So that’s why I’m here – when I was asked if I wanted to join Inclusive Cultures, if I wanted to make this opportunity available to other people, I could only say yes, absolutely! It’s critical that debates and discussions about others include real life experiences that centre human beings. It is also crucial that coaching is seen as collaborative, and as part of us, something that can deeply empower us. 

I hope that the journey you go on is as revelatory as the journey I am on, and that this brings you closer to what makes you feel unstoppable in your mission in life.

Welcome to Inclusive Cultures!

Themes Coaching & Mentoring Inclusive Leadership Practice