Date range
3 November 2021, 11:00am to 3 November 2021, 12:00pm
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Join us for our next Dialogue & Debate webinar, at 11am on Wednesday 3 November, exploring ways of addressing the practice of ‘tokenism’, to achieve more meaningful diversity and inclusion, in the media, politics and the workplace.

Our guest panellists include:

  • Dr Jason Arday – Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Durham University 
  • Dr Dayo Eseonu – Principal Researcher, The Young Foundation; Trustee, Involve
  • Tamanna Miah – Campaigner, media spokesperson and Champion for the Young Trustees Movement
  • Rachael Wilson – Managing Director, EW Group 

What will we be discussing?

Tokenism: ‘the practice of doing something (such as hiring a person who belongs to a minority group) only to prevent criticism and give the appearance that people are being treated fairly’ (via Merriam Webster).

Tackling inequality and promoting diversity and inclusion is a hot topic in the UK, from schools to corporates, public services, the media and the arts. It is widely recognised that diversity leads to improved innovation, fresh thinking and better decision-making. And yet, simply increasing diversity does not always result in greater inclusion opportunity or empowerment for underrepresented groups, such as women, people with Black, Asian and minority-ethnic backgrounds, younger people, disabled people, or transgender people.

Tokenism is often the barrier to meaningful engagement, and its application is pervasive, particularly in recruitment. In 2020, 18 boards within the FTSE 250 (the UK’s largest companies) remain ‘one and done’ boards, where companies appoint a single woman board member and go no further. Nearly a third of FTSE companies (32%) reported largely relying on the personal networks of current and recent board members to identify new candidates, which is not conducive to increasing diversity.

In this webinar, we explore ways of tackling tokenism to give minority groups a more equal share of voice, and the agency to affect change, rather than being the subjects of a ‘box-ticking’ exercise. We ask:

  • What is tokenism?
  • What is diversity?
  • What shifts need to occur for us to achieve sustainable representation of diverse groups?
  • Should the focus be on hiring and involving people as unique individuals, rather than as members of distinct socio-demographic groups?
  • Are quotas for representation useful for achieving real inclusion?
  • Is positive discrimination the way forward? And what examples of good practice might we learn from?
  • What is imposter syndrome and how might this affect people who are experiencing tokenism?

How to register

Please register in advance to receive joining details for this webinar, using this link:

You will be sent a link to join us live on Zoom (as a non-video participant) and interact with our panel by submitting questions using the Q&A function. All you need is an internet connection, a screen to watch it on - on PC or mobile device - and your speakers switched on.

If you prefer, you can watch the webinar live on this webpage or via Facebook Live, and submit your questions by tweeting us @CumberlandLodge or commenting on our Facebook livestream.

Dialogue & Debate with Cumberland Lodge is a series of interactive webinars on pressing issues affecting social cohesion in the UK, which is supported by our charitable funds.

On demand

A video recording of this webinar will be shared after the event on the Read, Watch, Listen section of this website. You will also find an audio-only version on all the major podcasting channels and on our SoundCloud channel here, shortly after the live-stream.

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