Karen Blackett Inspires BT Audience


Women of power, women of agency deserve to be championed for their hard-work and accomplishments. Karen Blackett is one of these women, her life time achievements inviting praise and celebration as her story serves as a shining example of what is possible when raw talent meets passion and hard-work. Even more so, because her success as a black woman means she has had to break through countless glass ceilings and barriers to get to where she is today.

Blackett was recently announced WPP’s first-ever UK country manager following an impressive career in the advertising realm. As part of her job, Blackett now oversees the company’s £2 billion-a-year UK operation, her oversight spanning numerous agencies including branding and design, to data and public relations.

Her career marks an impressive journey that offers inspiration to all those aspiring to reach the top. Aware of her influence, Blackett never fails to make time to come and speak to those starting out where she began years ago.

22 March 2018, Blackett spoke candidly about her professional experience as a woman of colour at BT’s multiculturalism event. The event kick started the launch of the company’s initiative to diversify its workforce, accompanied by tangible benchmarks and a promising plan.

Greeting a room of predominantly young BAME professionals, Blackett’s speech was fuelled by inspiration and powerful insight and advice geared at her ambitious audience.

Blackett, whose parents moved to the UK from Barbados, emphasized the importance of acknowledging one’s roots and celebrating one’s differences. Her speech focused on the importance of authenticity and identity, and how these attributes contribute to stronger workforces. Her major concern? The prevalence of masking, or the tendency of someone to alter themselves into the mainstream in order to be accepted.

Blackett, backed by research, believes that diverse workplaces, where people are comfortable being themselves, make for more productive and successful businesses. Aware of the challenges this poses to BAME employees, she offers a bit of advice. Blackett suggests finding mentors and establishing a support system early on as well as tackling difficult conversations when possible.

Blackett’s presence at an event such as BT’s reinforces the strong push for diversity in the workforce, demonstrating the willingness of individuals to prioritize the agenda and champion the cause. Blackett was followed by OBV’s director Simon Woolley, who joined suit in pushing the top company to do more in its initiative to create change.

Karen Blackett remains an inspiration to women and BAME leaders everywhere, demonstrating what true success can look like while simultaneously taking part in a greater call for change.

Cameron de Matteis