Campaigner, social entrepreneur and broadcaster June Sarpong says division in UK society makes it easy for a demagogue to ‘fuel the flames of fear’ and cause serious problems.
Well-known for her TV career as well as her outspoken views on diversity in the media industry, June was Michael’s guest on last night’s Capital Conversation.
A fixture on British TV since the launch of T4’s Popworld in 2001, June has leveraged her platform to try and level the playing field when it comes to who makes it in media. When asked for the source of her campaigning spirit, she says, “I’m able to speak to power. I have access to people that a lot of people who come from my background do not.”
She cites her upbringing as her inspiration for challenging the lack of diversity in the industry where she made her name: “I come from a very working class community and we had little money when I was growing up. I know what it feels like to lose everything, and this is where my drive comes from. What makes me excited is the idea of a framework where everyone has a shot. I know what it feels like to be told ‘no’ because of issues that have nothing to do with you as a person’”
Conversation turned to her book Diversify: Six Degrees of Integration, which examines the discrimination and diversity – grounding scientific research in personal narratives. “The workplace can be the lab where we experiment with this stuff and get it right. If we’re able to get diversity and inclusion right in the workplace, this will filter down into our social lives and have a positive effect on politics too,” she says.
She went on to question popular reluctance to diversity targets. “A lot of people are really against targets and goals. But it’s funny how no one minds targets and goals when it comes to money…”, says June. “If we know that setting targets and goals works financially, then why wouldn’t it work where people are concerned? We have a long way to go, but I’m optimistic.”
You can watch the full interview, here.