OBV Profile: David Weaver

Currently Weaver is chairman and senior partner of Freeman Oliver, a recruitment specialist firm which places talented individuals into positions, ranging from senior management level to board members.

One of the particular focuses of the company is the recruitment of people from minority ethnic groups, something which Weaver initiated when he entered into the firm. He says: “As far as I’m concerned it is important to change the complexion of the leadership in this country. In a diverse society organisations and businesses will do better with diverse leadership. It’s necessary that if organisations want to survive and thrive they are able to understand their customer base be that in the public sector or private sector.”

He is the former UK government representative on the 'European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia' and is presently vice president of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

In the late 1980s he worked as a local authority senior manager in Tower Hamlets’ Head of Policy and was tipped to becoming one of the youngest chief executives in the borough.

However, his departure from the authority came just before Derek Beacon of the far-right British National Party (BNP) was elected as a councillor. He regards his departure as a time when, “I wanted to give more time to the politics that were important to me. The prospect of the BNP being elected showed me that the local authority wasn’t doing enough to tackle racism,” he says.

In the early 1990s he founded the business, Progress Consultants, which specialised in management consultancy, recruitment and training. The consultancy worked on issues related to race, discrimination, and established links with organisations tackling racism.

He says: “All the way through my work there has always been a strong element of work on anti-racism, discrimination and representation.”

His political career moved in parallel with his recruitment career. From the mid 1980s he became co-founder of the National Black Caucus (NBC) which came into operation as a result of a conference in Liverpool in 1985, a conference which he says failed to pay attention to the Black voluntary sector. The organisation brought mass appeal to African, Caribbean and Asians, resulting in the formulation of The 1990 Trust in 1990 and later Operation Black Vote.

Weaver says: “The 1990 Trust came about because we felt that we needed to start making an impact in government and to work with organisations to build strong campaigning strategies.”

One of the Trust’s projects included the Bandung Parliamentary Institute (BPI), where Weaver helped lead on the negotiation of communication methods between Black organisations in Britain and the government.

He became a political adviser to Labour’s Deputy Home Secretary in 1996 where he advised the secretary on issues such as race and the voluntary sector.

Weaver, whose parents are from Antigua, was born in Nottingham. His father, a minister, is someone he regards as “a political man of faith”. Weaver says that his father always made clear to him that it was important to fight discrimination and defend those who are most disadvantaged.

At the age of eight he was racially attacked and believed from that point on that he did not want to be a victim again. His politicisation continued through both his parents with their shared knowledge and books on activists like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

He went on to further education by attaining a degree in Social Work and then completed a Masters at Nottingham University in Human Resources Development.

Weaver actually began working in the social work field but left the profession because he wanted to do something more direct in communities. He says: “Being a social worker made me more aware of the real oppression that Black communities face and made me aware of the need for social workers and social managers to make change.”

The forming of the NBC is where Weaver has a lot of fond memories. He recalls the time when the organisation brought Nelson Mandela to the UK not too soon after Mandela’s release from prison in South Africa. Weaver says of him: “He is symbolic that nothing is impossible.”

The need for more ethnic minority members in Parliament is a priority for Weaver, he supports the call for all-Black shortlists. He says: “The political establishment here is reluctant to get Black people in the inner circle of decision making and very few Black people are senior ministers. It’s the responsibility of government to demonstrate to parties that unless they get proper advice from Black people they are always going to fail in representing the needs of us all.”

Weaver believes that the movement (Organisations like The 1990 Trust, OBV and others) will continue to grow from strength to strength. He argues that there are so many talented individuals in the UK who are dedicated to the fight for justice, that the movement will go onwards and upwards.

He also sees mass scale economic opportunities in Black communities. He says: “We have a great opportunity to create economic wealth globally. I see us working across the world in our commitment for economic wealth and making a positive difference in society.”