On the last day of Black History Month 2020, it’s an honour to pay tribute to the extraordinary achievements of Dr Miranda Brawn. Her portfolio career includes Lawyer, Diversity Leader Pioneer, Board Advisor, Finance, Technology and Regulatory Expert, Success Coach, Mentor, Media Contributor, Author, Executive Producer and as well as International Motivational Speaker. She is the Founder and CEO of The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation which is a leading award-winning charity empowering thousands of young lives.
Dr Miranda Brawn has come to exemplify the best of Black British attainment. So to conclude Black History Month, we present an interview celebrating Dr Brawn’s significant contribution and dedication to improving the lives of others.
Dr Miranda Brawn, you have an impressive career and have won many accolades. You have worked as a board advisor and senior executive in high flying jobs in banking, finance and law where you have negotiated deals worth trillions of dollars over the years. What is it like working in those environments when there were few women and even fewer women of colour at that level?
Making History While Learning the Ropes
I started my banking and finance career as a teenager and initially I never looked at my age, gender or even race as a factor. In fact, I did not realise at the time that I was making history when I initially joined banking as the youngest and one of the first women of colour on the trading floor. The reality is that I just wanted to learn the ropes very quickly and perform my role well.
Banking especially when I was working in operations and on the trading floor as a sales trader had numerous moments of constant laughter and banter. There were many days when I loved going to work as it suited my personality. I had always loved networking and making new friends during my full-time studies. Hence, I have ended up making some great friends across many industries not just within finance over the years.
I have had the pleasure to work with some of the smartest and funniest people. That said, there have also been some very interesting challenges along the way which were dealt with successfully. However, I am pleased to say that I have also had some great bosses who have been very supportive of my career and are good friends of mine to this day!
The legal industry has a more serious tone and my roles as a senior banking lawyer differed greatly in comparison to my earlier roles. After a few years in the industry, it became apparent to me that there were diversity and inclusion gaps in the workplace including banking, finance and law at all levels, especially at the senior levels.
Making Diversity more than a 2020 Moment!
I wanted to play my part to help address the issue with solutions and actions rather than talking about the problem. Gender diversity has improved over the years including at senior levels. Race still has a long way to go. In fact, according to the Spencer Stuart Index Report, race diversity is nearly 20 years behind gender! This led to my work in diversity for over 20 years to the current day. I wanted to play my part to eliminate the gaps for all diversity strands including race and gender.
My recent advisory work during 2020 includes working with top global organisations, universities, schools, the Cabinet Office and 10 Downing Street as well as sharing my business and diversity views with the BBC, Bloomberg, Brummell Magazine and other media platforms.
Diversity, equity and inclusion has to start from the top and be represented throughout the industry and organisations. Not just at the graduate level roles. The challenge is to ensure that diversity is not just a trend! We need to make this a movement leading to real change and not just a 2020 moment.
Your desire to give back led to motivational speaking, becoming an author and success coach. Interesting quotes describe you as the ‘ female version of Toby Robbins and Les Brown’ and ‘one of the best women of colour speakers on the planet’. What recognition. It speaks of your ability to inspire and touch lives?
I am very blessed to get invited to talk across the world to inspire and motivate audiences at some of the best universities and organisations. This is also with top global leaders and speakers. For example, I shared the same platform with the best global motivational speakers such as Les Brown and Jack Canfield, recently in Los Angeles during Summer 2020.
My portfolio career roles have organically grown. Many wanted to hear my story to help inspire them and their children. Due to public demand, I have also penned my story and key success tips in my first published book, due in 2021. This will enable my message to have further global reach. There will be great insights and surprises in there!
In my international talks, I teach the audience to dare to make their dreams come true following my 20 years plus studies, on the laws of success. It includes recent wealth talks on how to inspire current and next generations through smart investing and making savvy financial decisions to have the option to retire early. My life purpose is “to educate, inspire and empower people to live their full potential while helping to eliminate the diversity, inclusion, equity and equality gaps.” I just love to help, inspire and touch lives for the better through my success coaching and mentoring work too. It is greatly rewarding.
You have made an impact as a fashion diversity advisor and brand ambassador to various fashion brands. How did you instigate changes and come to design the dress that carries your name, ‘The Miranda Dress?’
My diversity, equity and inclusion work spans across all industries including fashion and technology. I have worked with some of the world-renowned companies such as Jimmy Choo, Dior, Piaget and female brands like The Fold London, FashTech Company, Flair Atelier and more recently Libby London. I am their newest woman of influence brand ambassador. In fact, I wanted to be a fashion journalist for a short period of time when I was at school. Fashion has always been a passion of mine.
Sharing a Passion for Fashion with Vogue Editor Edward Enninful
I like to instigate changes in all industries by using my voice and providing advice on how to take action to make real change. I am the diversity advisor for Flair Atelier and loved the experience of using their personal tailoring service to design my own dress called “The Miranda Dress”. This is a fantastic brand which uses the best Italian fabrics similar to designer Valentino.
I can recall meeting Edward Enninful OBE, the Editor of British Vogue, a few years ago at 10 Downing Street during an International Women’s Day reception. Edward and I had follow-up meetings at the British Vogue Headquarters in Mayfair to discuss our shared passion and actions to diversify the fashion industry. I truly believe that together we can change the world and create change! In fact, in 2019 The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation launched a creative (fashion) scholarship to play our part to help eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion gaps in the fashion industry.
Founding the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation has brought together all your talents, experience and mission to improve inequality in UK. You have initiated a diversity scholarship and work in education. What does the scholarship programme entail?
The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation was launched in January 2016. It is a multi-award-winning Charity focused on education, self-confidence building, career development and networking opportunities to uncover diverse talent with the potential for leadership success in the workplace.
Our annual diversity leadership scholarship programme has led the way in terms of innovative scholarships to include funding, mentoring and work experience for future diversity leaders. There is a separate mentoring programme, diversity leadership lecture events, talks and access to diverse talent. We also design and deliver innovative educational, diversity leadership programmes and skills-building workshops to empower young people across the board.
We cater for young people from all ethnicities and diverse backgrounds taking their first step towards their chosen career. There are many ways to support our work. A few examples include volunteering https://www.tmbdlf.com/volunteer and/or making a cash donation https://www.tmbdlf.com/how-you-can-donate via our website www.tmbdlf.com.
The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation has teamed up with international law firm, Hogan Lovells for your 5th Diversity Leadership Annual Lecture on inclusion and Black Lives Matter. What are the messages you wanted the audience to receive?
The fifth Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Annual Lecture event was kindly hosted and sponsored by Hogan Lovells in 2020. This year was our first global and virtual lecture called “Black Lives Matter: Drive Change Through Everyday Inclusion.” In fact, it was also our biggest and best to date! The lecture was open to everyone wanting to learn how to make a difference with racial equity and overall inclusion. We always aim to educate, empower and inspire. The Power of Inclusion is key to the workplace today. Inclusive workplaces are more productive, commercially successful and have a happier and more engaged workforce.
‘Each One Reach One and Teach One’
It was a pleasure to celebrate our fifth anniversary on 1st October 2020 with National Inclusion Week and the first day of UK Black History Month and Global Diversity Awareness Month with our audience.
Yet, I had pointed out for numerous years that every day should be a celebration of the contributions of Black people to society and inclusion in all its form. This year’s theme for National Inclusion Week was Each One, Reach One and I added Teach One as education plays a key role in our Charity’s work. It is about individuals and organisations connecting with either someone else, or another organisation, to help understand the opportunity of inclusion and connecting.
First, I explained the differences between diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity and equality. Then I discussed where we are with the Black Lives Matter movement for racial equity in and out of the workplace. This included the impact of COVID-19 on the BAME communities and the fact that the term “BAME” needs to be changed. The lecture was closed by sharing how each of us can help to move the needle with everyday inclusion from an organisational and individual perspective.
The lecture event also included top leaders, a panel discussion by Hogan Lovells and announcement of our scholarship winners who shared their experiences with us. The recorded diversity leadership lecture can be viewed via The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation’s recently launched You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56x5J_9j4Ds&t=17s
We have awarded nearly two hundred scholarships for 2020/21 to help support our diverse future leaders especially those who have been affected by COVID-19.
Out of the many awards you have won and the power lists in which you have been featured. Which of these stand out for you?
All of my awards and power list placements are important to me as a special recognition and reward of my hard work. I would say, the last major award was “Woman of the Year 2019” at Europe’s largest finance and diversity awards called ‘Women in Finance Awards.’
I was also part of the twelve impactful women personally chosen for the “Celebrating Women in the City” photography exhibition by Hannah Starkley. This was for International Women’s Day 2020 at the Guildhall Art Gallery. My photograph will be a permanent fixture for many centuries to come at the gallery in the heart of the City of London. This was important to me as a proud mixed-race lady to have the privilege to represent the fastest growing ethnic group in the UK.
Finally, as an exclusive, I am listed in the Top 10 Inspirational Women 2020 for a special publication’s anniversary which will be revealed late November 2020. This will be a wonderful honour, to have been selected for the amazing power list celebrating ten highly inspirational women from the past decade.
Who were the leaders who encouraged you to dream big when you were young?
My parents and world-famous boxing heavy weight champion Muhammad Ali. His famous quote “If Your Dreams Don’t Scare You They Aren’t Big Enough” says it all!
You have accomplished so much at a young age. Do you still have goals on the horizon?
I feel like I am just getting started. 2020 has been a great year for me. I cannot wait for the 2021 magic to commence! Watch this space for a special innovative project which will be launched in H1 2021, my book launch in H2 2021 and follow me on social media for so much more on the horizon.
For more about Dr Miranda K. Brawn Esq visit:
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