From education to employment

Creating new narratives for Black Leadership in Britain

Yiannis Chrisostomidis leads the discussion

At the Black Leadership Group’s annual conference on 21 March, Make the Path by Walking It, Yiannis Chrysostomidis, Principal and Head of London Office, Reos Partners, will lead a roundtable discussion called Creating new narratives for Black Leadership in Britain. As Yiannis explains here, we need to tell a different and compelling story.

There is no quick fix to tackling systemic problems in the world. Systemic change takes time, energy, resources and skill. It certainly requires collaboration, and very often the way forward needs a degree of experimentation.

On 21 March at the BLG’s annual conference, I will share how we, at Reos Partners, have taken these ingredients and, through collaboration, design processes and platforms on which people can meet to work on complex tough challenges. 

More widely, our work at Reos Partners is particularly suited to those situations in which no single actor can solve the problem on their own. There’s an element of complexity and there isn’t a history of solutions. The situation is unprecedented in its nature.

We address issues for which the status quo needs to change, yet there’s a level of discomfort when people attempt to come together to solve the problem. These are matters where there is conflict and tension, and the stakes are high. Often there is a low level of trust, but a degree of polarisation.

The stakes are high

The challenge to eradicate systemic racism has all these characteristics, in my view. It is a situation in which, in many ways, we are stuck. The stakes are high but the level of trust in and across communities, and in and with organisations to have the capacity to move towards becoming more racially equitable, has been low.

The challenge to eradicate racism is a really complex one but it is not insurmountable, and a key part of the solution is leadership. More than that, it is about representative leadership and seeing more leaders from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

I will speak at the conference about our work in bringing people together from these communities to reimagine the future of black leadership. We are approaching this in an experimental way by having a dialogue through art. 

With support from the RSAthe Ubele Initiative and Reos Partners embarked on a transformative scenario process that uses art and storytelling to stimulate visions and to create new narratives in Britain’s public imagination about the future of black leadership. This is Phase 1 of a bigger project that is underway.

For Phase 2 we are planning to develop and write up these scenarios and hold Town Hall-style meetings in 100 cities across the UK to facilitate a conversation about black leadership and what it means to those taking part. These are some of the questions we pose:

  • What does the future hold for black leadership in Britain?
  • What are the main archetypes of black leadership that are present or are lacking now that we need to activate in the future?
  • What role does “making the path by walking it” play in all this?

My session will present some initial findings and artefacts from the work, explore some of the above questions and host an interactive and creative session with participants, outputs from which might also serve as inputs into the broader process. I hope you can join us on 21 March.

By Yiannis Chrysostomidis, Principal and Head of London Office, Reos Partners

Related Articles