Barrister, Philanthropist, Diversity Advocate, Founder/CEO of The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation and Director of Legal and Transaction Management at Daiwa, Dr Miranda Brawn is making diversity money moves for her clients and the next generation.
In this third instalment of Spotlight on Diversity Champions, Dr. Miranda Brawn explains the key benefits of diversity for business, her leadership style, inspiration and the reality of diversity in the banking and finance industry.
What is the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation?
The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation helps to increase diversity across the Globe while supporting young leaders from a range of social backgrounds. My Foundation was initially set up following a race diversity gap in the workplace which was not being prioritised in 2015.
We strive to improve the positions of minority groups (including girls and women) at all levels of society, through education, enablement and empowerment. We do this through raising awareness, advocacy, diversity lectures, scholarships, funding, work experience, mentoring and positive action.
This has resulted in empowering our next generation of leaders with the skills and networks to affect positive change in marginalised communities, while closing the diversity gap and setting the foundation to have successful careers.
"Our mission is to highlight next generation leaders, encourage and support future careers while closing the diversity gap."
Each year we launch The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Scholarships across a range of sectors to award the best next generation leaders funding, mentoring and work experience while providing them with the tools to help us close the diversity gap. These scholarships are awarded at The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Annual Lecture, which made UK history in 2016 by launching the first diversity lecture aimed at school children in the UK. This won an award from the UK Prime Minister and personal praise from HRH Prince Charles of Wales.
Why do you think diversity should be on everyone’s agenda?
Diversity comes in many forms: gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, culture, disability, socioeconomic background, etc. All of these contribute to an individual’s unique experience of the world.
Sometimes we need to take a step back and examine the presence of diversity in our own life. How diverse is your organisation? Group of friends? Is diversity something we should strive for in all aspects of our lives? The evidence speaks for itself – and so does the everyday experience of businesses across the world.
"Diversity and inclusion leads to more innovation, more opportunities for all, better access to talent, and better business performance."
Why is diversity an imperative for any business?
There are five reasons why diversity and inclusion are an absolute imperative for any business.
- It is good for business. Companies that embrace diversity gain higher market share and a competitive edge in accessing new markets. Business leaders increasingly recognise this and that it can improve the bottom line.
- Diversity and inclusion are quite simply the right thing to do. It is about creating equal opportunities for everyone – and we can all see signs of progress. But the statistics make it equally clear that there is still a long way to go. Take gender equality.
"Women account for 60% of college graduates but only 3% of leaders worldwide. Women and girls also represent two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population."
This is why I support HeForShe – a movement led by UN Women, which aims to mobilise 1 billion men and boys in support of gender equality.
- If organisations do not manage diversity properly, they will get left behind. Today, workplace equality is front-of-mind for businesses, governments, regulators, society, and – most important of all – the vital talent that will drive their future success. So, companies that do not focus on this are not just at risk of being out of date, they already are.
- Diversity plugs the talent gap for businesses - and is also good for society. Today, one of the biggest concerns for CEOs worldwide is not having the right people to run and grow their businesses. So, they are starting to look to diversity as a way to address this issue.
Good workplace diversity does not just benefit the businesses themselves, but also the economies they operate in – a fact underlined by research from the non-profit organisation Catalyst.
"This shows that increasing the level of female employment could help raise GDP by 5% in the US, 11% in Italy, and 27% in India."
This is before you start to quantify the positive social impacts that would also arise.
- Diversity and inclusion bring us all opportunities to learn from others and grow. By working with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences and working styles, we learn and get another view. Diverse views make for better decisions, and thus drive a high-performance culture.
In my mind, the benefits of diversity are clear and unarguable. But this does not mean that embracing diversity is always easy. That’s why we all need to show leadership and hold ourselves to account.
There has been a lot of focus on making banking and finance more gender inclusive. What do you think?
Many companies who are trying to increase inclusion and diversity, will start with addressing gender as a key element of their inclusion strategies because it crosses all racial and ethnic categories.
The companies believe that this approach will trickle-down throughout the organization and address other pertinent issues such as the obvious lack of racial inclusion and equity across the industry. Unfortunately, this approach lacks efficacy and continually fails to produce the desired outcomes.
A thorough analysis and approach based on intersectionality is the missing link in these strategic initiatives around increasing diversity. There are “unique” biases and obstacles that women of colour and other marginalized identities experience which require more targeted and specialised approaches to addressing inequities.
Unfortunately, I do not think most companies have embraced this concept yet and we see the results in the diversity numbers which show a slight improvement around gender and yet a continued decline in racial and ethnic demographic representation.
"A lot more “work” is required to make banking and finance more inclusive of gender, race, age, disability, LGBT, social background and so on."
How did you get to where you are today?
In a nutshell, it is a combination of hard work and determination with bags of drive and passion. I was fortunate enough to get into banking after my first interview following an introduction via my mother’s friend who owned a recruitment agency in the City. My roles have progressed from starting out in operations as a teenager, to middle office risk management, project management, senior client relationship management and becoming derivatives sales trader on the trading floor. My background also includes managing legal risk, investments & operations for the world's biggest financial companies.
Today, my day job is where I am responsible for the legal risk in derivatives & financial regulations at investment bank Daiwa Capital Markets Europe Limited who are very supportive of my diversity initiatives.
Outside of my day job, I am involved in board advisory roles, media contributions and public speaking to help raise the awareness about diversity and inclusion.
Describe your leadership style and personal mission statement.
I am a very passionate and strategic leader. I lead by example, by understanding what a situation or a problem requires, and delivering a solution. The people that I work with and who work for me, therefore, are empowered to do the same.
"My personal mission statement is to be a wise and inspiring leader bringing wealth and value to those around me."
Helping the young leaders of the world while sharing my blessings with others, ensuring to give back as much as I possibly can in this lifetime. I want to help influence the future development of people and organisations while teaching the next generation to grow beyond their current bounds.
Name three business or political leaders who inspire you.
Mellody Hobson, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates. I have had the pleasure of meeting two out of these three leaders which just leaves Oprah Winfrey now. They are all highly inspirational due to their extremely successful careers while exercising high levels of philanthropy to help others.
Dr Miranda Brawn is a power player whose humble nature belies her impressive accomplishments. Dr. Brawn has negotiated contracts estimated around £5 trillion during the course of her career thus far while working for the world’s best investment banks.
As Founder and CEO of The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation, she develops the next generation of leaders for global companies while helping to close the diversity gap at the same time.
Miranda has achieved global recognition for her work on diversity and inclusion, being listed on numerous power lists including Top 100 Women in European Finance and the go-to person for race diversity in the City by the Financial News.
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