Goodie Okekchukwu is a dedicated and result-driven Diversity professional. She holds a Masters degree in Diversity Management and has made valuable contributions to this field over the years. Consistent, compassionate, focused, and intentional, Goodie specialises in helping organisations to empower and engage employees to lead change, implement and foster positive team behaviour, create enabling and inclusive work environment. Goodie is obsessed about the inclusion of accent diversity in the workspace, she is the founder of the #ProtectAccent campaign. The campaign is dedicated to highlighting the issues of accent bias and discrimination in organisations and broader society, fostering and promoting accent inclusion in the workspace. Best known for her informed approach to work, she finds the most rewarding aspect of her career is participating in activities that eliminate negative work systems and cultures, enhance team dynamics, enable mindset shifts towards modelling positive values and behaviours from the board level.
Goodie is an author, her first book – “Navigating the Problems and Solutions of Work-Life -Balance” is available for sale on Amazon in hard copy and Amazon’s kindle formats. Goodie’s books are also available in major bookstores in The UK, New York, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
Adrian Whelan is a Senior Vice President and Head of Regulatory Intelligence for Investor Services at Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), based in Dublin. In this role, he is responsible for articulating the impact of regulatory change on asset managers and the industry in which they operate. Adrian Whelan is the lead contributor to BBH’s On The Regs blog, where he regularly shares insights on global regulatory topics. He joined the firm in 2011. Additionally, he has a degree in Business Studies from Dublin City University.
Adrian Whelan is active in the Investment Company Institute, the International Securities Lending Association, Irish Funds and Investment Association, and other global industry bodies and working groups focused on education and advocacy for regulatory and policy changes impacting the asset management and banking industries. Furthermore, he is a champion of the Dublin chapter of BBH’s Young Professionals Network and is active in the firm’s Asia Link Network and Pride Network.
Paul McKeon is a Strategic Engagement Higher Executive Officer in the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in the Irish Civil Service. He is a Socio-Economic, Equality and Diversity Specialist with demonstrable experience of driving change through a Legal, Policy and Civil Society context across a range of issues relating to Housing, Education, Sport, Disability, Employment & Decent Work. Paul is also an Emerging Voices member in the Institute of International & European Affairs where his work on making the case for adding Socio-Economic Status as a 10th Ground to Irish Equality Legislation is featured in the IIEA Emerging Voices – A Future of Europe Anthology, launched by Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee in 2019. At a European level, Paul has also represented Ireland.
Furthering on from his work around Socio-Economic Status, Paul was selected for the German Foreign Offices Young Leaders Programme. This was a unique opportunity for a select group of Emerging Leaders to meet and share their ideas and work with high profile relevant German public figures and authorities relating to Foreign Affairs, Equality, Housing, Climate, Brexit and the Economy.
Before entering into the Civil Service, he worked in a Policing context in An Garda Siochana. He also spent time working in Child Protection as a social care worker within a number of Residential Units for young adults and youth in care. Within a Sporting context, Paul has competed recently at European level in Boxing and also in the past at professional level in the Scottish Premier League for Hamilton FC and Northern Ireland National Football Team at underage level. In other work, Paul is passionate about empowering people to turn negatives into positive. In 2018 he shared his story to a wide audience on the Marian Finucane Show on how he grew up and overcame many of the barriers and obstacles facing himself and other young adults in Dublin’s Inner City. Relating to this work in 2017, Paul was invited by the Taoiseach of the time Enda Kenny to offer his contributions into the Government lead Mulvey report into the social rejuvenation of the North East Inner City. Based on his lived experience of overcoming poverty and social exclusion, Paul also at times provides motivational talks to employers along with young graduates, the unemployed and individuals with convictions.
Valéria has over 15 years’ experience working for organisations in the private, public and non-profit sector, such as Department of Social Protection, Robert Bosch Institute, GAIA Social. She currently works for the Immigrant Council of Ireland, as Integration Officer, working on anti-racism and diversity management projects. Her areas of expertise include community development, corporate social responsibility and integration. Valéria holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas, and also a Postgraduate Diploma in Economics (Management & Strategy) and a diploma in Special Studies in Education and Human Rights, both from the University of Campinas. She is also the Director of Institutional Relations at AMBI (Association of Brazilian Families in Ireland) a 10-year-old organisation that works on promoting Brazilian culture and language, and promote the integration of migrants in Ireland.
After graduating in International & Political Studies, Reg began his career working for a high profile government department but after experiencing accent discrimination decided to change career direction in favour of developing social inclusion initiatives for charities and housing associations to help disadvantaged communities. Having been raised in a diverse, working-class area of East London, Reg brings some insight on the accentism people who sound “foreign” and people from working-class backgrounds face when seeking to become socially mobile. A keen historian, Reg also brings some insight into the origins of this particular type of discrimination. Reg currently works for a City Law firm as a Diversity & Inclusion Advisor helping to increase the diversity of the talent within the firm, and foster a sense of belonging regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or social background. In addition to his role, Reg also visits secondary schools to help students recognise the value in their own diversity whether that be an accent, identity or lived experience.
Sandra Ruiz Moriana
Sandra is a highly motivated, qualified specialist in Education, Gender Equality, Diversity and Social Justice issues. Over her professional career, Sandra has gained relevant experience working with people from diverse backgrounds, nationalities, life experiences and ages. This includes providing the necessary support to assist them to achieve their personal, educational and professional goals. As a result, she has developed a genuine passion for working and advocating for the rights of people through mobilising the communities and empowering individuals. She truly believes education and employment play essential roles in empowering, strengthening and restoring human dignity. Sandra is currently working in the New Community Partnership (NCP), managing a National Project called MiWOW (Migrant Women Opportunities for work)
I grew up in Cambridge as one of four sisters and went to the state comprehensive my Dad had gone to. My Dad left school at 14 to work in a factory, and then IT, and my mother stayed at home to look after all of us whilst working a myriad of jobs in the evenings, across the night and at the weekends. Whilst I didn’t really know it at the time, we were not that well off and I started doing part time jobs from the age of 12.
My parents were very keen for us all to get a great education and I was the first person in my family to go to University. I narrowly missed a place at Oxford and went instead to the University of Sheffield. I think this was the first place I became aware of my “accent” as all the Sheffield people thought I was from London, even when I told them I was from Cambridge. I think the logic behind it was that everyone from Cambridge was “posh”. I graduated with a 2.1. in History and Politics in 1995. Since then the four of us have gone on to get 8 degrees and my youngest sister did get into Oxford and is now nearly at the end of her PhD (whilst working full time as a Detective in the Met).
Once I graduated I moved to London with a friend and we both slept on the floor of one of her friend’s front rooms whilst we looked for jobs. I had a number of jobs before landing a role in IT in a Japanese bank in the City in 1997. It was here that I was told to stop dropping my “t’s and h’s” – i.e. I was too common. It was really was that direct. By this time I had settled in the East End, in Bow, where my Grandfather was from.
Later on that year I applied to the Operations graduate scheme at UBS. I sat a maths test and was called in for an interview after being told that I had scored 100% in the test which was very rare. As soon as I was in the interview though I knew that I was not going to get the job. I was asked about my parents, why they didn’t give me any money and why I didn’t have a credit card along with other quite random questions. The interview was cut short and needless to say I didn’t get a place. In the letter they sent me it said something along the lines of not being “the type of person they were looking for”; I am pretty sure that this was due to my accent/class.
I joined the Insurance Industry in 2002 with Aon and since then have held numerous roles in IT, Operations, Diversity & Inclusion, and now Change Programme Management with Catlin, XL Catlin, AXA XL and now Aspen. I also took a part-time Masters in International Political Economy and Globalisation at Birkbeck and became a mother to two children – now 7 and 10.
In 2018 I founded the Insurance Families Network as part of the drive to create greater inclusion in the insurance industry. I also sit on the steering committee of LINK and on the Insurance Institute of London Inclusion & Diversity Committee.
Charlyne is an In-House Recruiter within the private and not for profit sectors. She is dedicated to the hire and promotion of an individual, solely based on their skills and ability. With a HR and Business degree, Charlyne began her career supporting young and disadvantaged candidates into sustainable work before moving into the recruitment field to support businesses with fair recruitment. As a champion of diverse senior leadership teams and progression planning available for all regardless of background, Charlyne has provided consultancy to address these issues to a range of businesses.
Other areas of focus include early talent recruitment from diverse backgrounds, business partnerships with schools to mentor and develop future talent, employability training enabling access to work and assisting businesses with attracting and retaining diverse talent.
Charlyne believes that as with all protected characteristics, your accent should not be a barrier to progression or achievement.
Faith Ruto (MBA, BSc) is the Founding Director of Transformation21st. Transformation21st Ltd is an innovative personal development and change consultancy with a global client reach. Faith is a Transformational Coach who has designed and delivered 100s of bespoke 1-2-1 and group coaching programmes for leaders and businesses in the UK and beyond. Faith is a sought after keynote speaker and a published author of Transform Within – 7 Strategies for Professional Growth and Resilience. Transform Within is a powerful self-coaching book for busy professionals. It provides strategies to help you discover your purpose, confidence and resilience.
Prior to setting up Transformation21st, Faith worked for Shell and British Airways, where she led global IT projects to bring about business transformation and innovation.
Faith is passionate about championing equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace and schools. She’s a Student Ambassador and Start-Up Mentor. Originally from Uganda, Faith is married with 2 children and loves running and playing golf.
"What I hope to bring to ProtectAccent, industry and corporate experience, passion to make a difference, innovative thinking to support vision and mission of the #ProtectAccent campaign."
Paul has been a HR professional for over 30 years. He has worked in local government, the voluntary sector and the health service – with particular experience in the fields of recruitment, employee relations, employment law and diversity. When working for Barnardo’s he took on the role of national equality and diversity manager. After a short spell as a HR lead in an NHS trust, he was seconded into the Department of Health and Social Care’s Equality and Diversity Team to help them develop the first national strategy in this area. Paul currently works for NHS Employers – which represents and supports NHS trusts across England – and is helping NHS organisations to embed diversity and inclusion good practice across the NHS. He also works on various diversity working groups and initiatives – with bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists and the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative – and writes frequently about all aspects of diversity through various social media channels.
Dumi Senda, widely known as Coach Dumi, is an Oxford MSc Graduate, global Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Expert and Career Coach with an extensive record of designing and delivering high-impact programs at top firms and organisations such as the UN, Houses of Commons, Commonwealth Office, Bank of England, Google, Goldman Sachs, Baker McKenzie, Morgan Stanley, UK Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), Black British Business Awards (BBBAs), among others. He is internationally renowned for inspiring individuals and groups from underserved backgrounds to aspire for greater career and life outcomes by drawing on his story of going from a life of menial labour with no prospects to a global leader.
Dumi has shared the stage with world leaders such as the Members of European Parliament, King Letsie 111 of Lesotho, Pravin Gordhan Minister of Finance South Africa, among others. In 2017, he opened the world-renowned Oxford Africa Business Conference ahead of the keynote address delivered by African Billionaire and Democracy Advocate Mo Ibrahim. He was recently invited to No. 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in recognition of his impact in promoting workplace equality, diversity and inclusion.
Dumi is also an internationally renowned motivational speaker and multi-published author and poet. His debut children’s book entitled The Day the Sun Promised to Smile FOREVER! was published by Ariel Foundation International in German, English, and French to raise funds for a UNICEF initiated international Foundation called Innocence in Danger. He has also contributed to a book entitled Everyday Ubuntu published by Penguin and forwarded by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
I am a Project Manager in the UK Change function at Aon. I tick a few intersectionality boxes and epitomise ‘other’ minority voices. I am an active ally, forever in the search of new ways of learning language, tools and resources. I am currently serving as Co-Chair for the Gender Inclusion Network. Aiming for equality in an industry that was once notorious for being known as an ‘old boys club’ will not be easy. I am honoured to be part of a network that represents men and women and is a driving force for progression, development and change.
Being a #ProtectAccent Ambassador is an opportunity to raise awareness on accent bias and discrimination in our organisations.
Siobhan Corria has been Head of Inclusion at Action for Children since March 2014. Siobhan leads on diversity and inclusion across the organisation, focusing on the benefits of an inclusive culture and ensuring children and young people’s voices are at the heart of the organisation.
Siobhan’s background is in youth justice, social work and politics. She was a Councillor in Cardiff between 2012 and 2014 during which time Siobhan was Chair of the Children’s Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services. Siobhan was an Executive Director (Safeguarding an Equalities) for Welsh Amateur Boxing Association and is a Trustee for Youth participation charity Pro Mo Cymru. Siobhan founded ‘well-being walks’ for people who have been affected by sepsis in 2017.
Siobhan lives in Cardiff with her two teenage children, her partner and her sausage dog, Archie.