An interview with Let’s Talk about Race in the Workplace author Maggie Semple OBE

21st September 2020

With the launch of our new e-learning course ‘Let’s Talk About Race In The Workplace’ which focuses on opening up discussions about race in the workplace, we grabbed ten minutes with entrepreneur and course author Maggie Semple OBE to find out more about her passion for equality and what excites her about the release of this course.

Hi Maggie, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and your equal rights work.

I have a variety of interests and work in a number of sectors. I have always had a strong commitment to learning and began my career as a teacher. I became a deputy head of a large London secondary school, a local education authority inspector, served on a number of university governing bodies and sat, during the 1990s and early 2000s, on government education policy working groups and also European task groups. In 2001-08, I was a Civil Service Commissioner responsible for upholding the values of appointment on merit.

Today, through my consultancy business, I work with global companies and large organisations designing and delivering development programmes for senior leaders and board members. I am a thought-leader on agile approaches within a diversity and inclusion framework. I am often described as ‘gently formidable’ – a voice of reason.

I currently serve on a range of boards in a non-executive/advisory role for organisations such as the Jamaica National Bank UK and Cambridge University, and I am a member of the Queen’s Counsel Appointments Panel.

I am passionate and driven by fairness and equality and work boldly in areas concerned with race from a black female perspective.

Could you tell us why you chose to write this course now and how it is different from general diversity and inclusion training?

Not only does the course specifically look at race in the workplace, but it is also very topical. In my experience, not many companies or organisations have had the courage to explore issues openly around their black employees. their black students, their black customers, their black clients and their black supply chains.

The word here is ‘black’. The issue of race has always been uncomfortable for many, but given recent campaigns and protests, including Black Lives Matter, the zeitgeist is all about how unjust society is for people who are black and what can be done about this. The course tackles the issue of race head on and talks about white privilege, micro-aggressions and unconscious bias in a connected and informative way. I think that this makes this resource stand out from other offerings. We are clear that this is not a general D&I programme.

How is the Let’s Talk about Race in the Workplace course being made available?

The great thing about this training resource is that the online aspect is a good introduction to race in the workplace. The content is dynamic, interactive with some talking heads offering thoughts, advice and action points based on experience. I would be happy for customers to contact me via the Marshall website to discuss their particular situation and I will also provide webinars and visit customers wherever possible.

How did you find working with the Marshall team – our writers and filmmakers?

Marshall has an amazing team of gifted individuals. Every person was thoughtful and had done their homework, which made each stage of the process of creating the resource so enjoyable, smooth and easy. I think the final product shows that there was great respect for each other and that we were a great team living the values of diversity and inclusion. I’m secretly hoping that we will be able to work with each other again soon!

The Let’s Talk about Race in the Workplace course is designed to support organisations in talking about race and racism with their teams. Available late September 2020,  you can watch a video preview of this brand-new course here:

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