BGP's Leadership Development Programme: An interview with Seyi Falodun-Liburd
We are bleeding delighted to introduce you to Seyi Falodun-Liburd, who recently joined BGP as our Leadership Development Lead. Seyi is responsible for our Leadership Development Programme which focuses on mentoring and skills development for Black people and people of colour on the team.
Hi Seyi, can you start by telling me a bit about your work background?
My career has mostly been in the women’s sector, particularly in the funding space.
I worked at Rosa for four-years, a grant making charity that funds grassroots women’s organisations working to make the UK a fairer, safer place for women and girls. I lead the launch of the high-profile Time’s Up Justice and Equality Fund in 2018, a fundraising campaign kickstarted with a £1m donation from Emma Watson, raising an additional £1.7m for sexual harassment and sexual violence organisations across the UK.
I am also Director and Co-founder of TRiBE, an organisation providing mentoring and career and personal development to Black women. We aim to encourage and empower Black women by arming them with the skills and experience they need in order to gain access to opportunities that sometimes seem out of their reach. We do this by offering mentoring and events. For example, if you are interested in journalism, we would pair you with a Black woman journalist who will mentor you and help build your network. We also produce online workshops, such as how to navigate careers in financial management, code and law. We aim to guide these women in developing a sense of confidence in themselves and what they bring to the table, because we all bring something to the table.
Since 2018, I have also worked as a charity and women’s sector consultant, focusing on corporate partnerships and special projects within the women’s sector.
Wow – you must be very busy! What do you do when you’re not working?
I have lots of plant babies, who I speak to on a regular basis. I also love drawing and am currently learning how to sew on the sewing machine!
I enjoy watching the kids' cartoon 'Steven Universe' with my husband. It includes a lot of LGBTQ themes, and I think it’s so interesting that children get to watch this. I often wonder how it will affect them differently as children compared to older generations.
So how did you get involved with Bloody Good Period?
I met Gabby (CEO and Founder of BGP) at a dinner and we decided to follow up with each other after. We connected and realised that we had things in common, including both wanting to promote the development of people of colour in the charity sector due to the lack of inclusion and the resistance to moving people of colour forward.
When I started working in the charity sector eight years ago, after working in PR, I found myself at a charity communications event of 180 people - and there were only 3 other people of colour. That’s why I started TRiBE in 2015.
Gabby asked if I was interested in devising a Leadership Development Programme for BGP staff members and here I am!
Can you tell me about the Leadership Development Programme you devised for BGP?
The Leadership Development Programme focuses on mentoring and skills development for Black people and people of colour on the BGP team. I developed this programme based on my own lived experiences and my expertise in the field. The programme seeks to develop their skills and interests both in work and outside of work.
Through the programme, we are working with team members on setting their goals and then matching them with the appropriate mentor, like we do at TRiBE. My job is to ensure the programme is moulded to each person in order to best support their personal and professional development.
I want this to be a valuable experience for people involved, providing another voice in the room which looks and sounds like theirs, which is so important. I’m hoping the programme will be a space for Black women and women of colour to bring their whole selves to, even if they can’t do this all the time while they’re at work. This means not having to chip away at themselves or even silence themselves to be in the workplace.
How does this programme relate to other work in the charity sector?
There are lots of Development and Leadership Programmes in the third sector, but there is something different about an organisation who wants to invest in this type of programme and consider: How can we do this better? How do we move forward? How do we have more intersecting identities on the team? This is really refreshing. The fact that BGP were able to recognise and invest in this programme speaks volumes. BGP are not just appearing to be better but really trying to be better from the inside out and living their anti-racist values out loud - trying to shift the change, not just put a band-aid over it.
The mentoring aspect is new in the sector. This is because it takes time to find mentors and curate mentor relationships that are valuable. Lots of organisations, especially grassroots organisations, are not in a place to invest in this type of Leadership Development for their employees. There are also organisations who struggle to see how this work is valuable full stop.
Before the recent Black Lives Matter movement, discussing race in the workplace was a no no, and then it switched on a dime. We moved from ‘we don’t see colour’ to ‘tell us all your traumatic experiences’.
Organisations are currently moving through this shift and transition, and we need to hold onto that momentum. The Leadership Development Programme aims to provide a model for other organisations beyond BGP.
Do you have advice to other smaller organisations who maybe don’t have the provisions for their own Leadership Development Programme?
Start by asking, ‘who isn’t in the room?’. These are the voices who need to feed into the conversation to start creating a safe space for intersecting identities in the workplace. Then, you need to consider how we get these people into the room and importantly, how do we make this safe.
Seyi, thank you.