BE@R UK to host webinar raising awareness and promoting social justice.
- Stephen Lawrence Day commemorates life & legacy of murdered UK teen
- BE@R UK Employee Resource Group hosts webinar to raise our collective voice
- Join the Webinar on April 21, 2021 9:30 AM PST/04:30 PM GMT
Stephen Lawrence was a Black teenager who was murdered in an unprovoked, racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus in Eltham, a district of London, on the evening of April 22 1993. After the initial investigation, five suspects were arrested but not charged. It was suggested during the investigation that Lawrence was killed because he was Black, and that the case was woefully mishandled by the police and Crown Prosecution Service.
The subsequent Macpherson Report found the investigation of Stephen’s murder had been deeply marred by institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police. It wasn’t until 2011 that a retrial began, ending in murder convictions – but only for two of the six attackers involved.
The fallout from the trial has literally rewritten British law – causing the double jeopardy rule to be repealed in murder cases and allowing retrials when new and compelling evidence is discovered. A national day of commemoration is now held in Stephen’s honor every spring — 2021 marks the third Stephen Lawrence Day.
A national day of reckoning
Stephen Lawrence Day was officially recognized by Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018.
In a Guardian article marking the first Stephen Lawrence day, Doreen Lawrence wrote: “I hope that the first National Stephen Lawrence Day will help to drive forward an important national conversation about how we can all build a fairer and more inclusive Britain. But more importantly, I want this day to inspire our country’s future generation into living their best life – in the same spirit as Stephen.”
BE@R UK brings it home
The Black Employees @ RingCentral (BE@R) UK Employee Resource Group is hosting a webinar on April 21, 2021 honoring the legacy of Stephen Lawrence and opening discussions about Black life in the UK and in the workplace. In particular, the discussion will focus on addressing the types of representation of (or lack thereof) Black people in leadership positions across different sectors in UK society e.g. corporate executives, media roles, sports, the arts and beyond.
Progress begins in the mirror
BE@R UK member Kitson Locke thinks it’s a positive that the idea for honoring Stephen Lawrence Day actually came from the top down – RingCentral HR made the suggestion. But he also thinks RingCentral UK is emblematic of the issues the webinar is trying to raise:
“On a local scale, we should aim for more diversity in local leadership. We don’t have any Black leaders in the UK team. Globally, we would like to see more Black executives at the C-level; not so we can just say we’re “diverse,” but ultimately to create an environment where every employee — of any color, gender or orientation— can see themselves advancing, growing and succeeding.”
Diversity-centric events worldwide often employ the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted, which asks participants to engage in three different kinds of challenges – do good (a simple act of kindness to help others in your community); get creative (express what living your best life looks like for you through your chosen art form); or share the learning (find out about a particular issue (like Stephen’s story) and share it). BE@R is making #ChallengeAccepted a key part of the webinar and encourages everyone to carry out a meaningful act of kindness in opposition to racism — whether you post it on social media or not.
Honoring a legacy; moving forward intentionally
A single webinar doesn’t solve racism. A single Black executive doesn’t make a company diverse. But the grassroots efforts of groups like BE@R UK do make a difference. Inch by inch, heart by heart, issue by issue, on Stephen Lawrence Day and every day, everyone who raises their voices to honor all the differences and diversity of humanity helps to bring the change we all want to see. BE@R UK exemplifies RingCentral’s ideals, and reminds us that for us, progress only happens one way—together.
Originally published Apr 19, 2021