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RBS Multicultural Network and SEMLA invite Sir Geoff Palmer to speak at inspiring event

Sir Geoff Palmer, addressed an audience of black and ethnic minority professionals at an event hosted by the RBS Multicultural Network in conjunction with SEMLA.

Scotland’s first black professor, a Windrush generation Jamaican who grew up in the racist Britain of the fifties and sixties, told an audience of lawyers and other professionals in Edinburgh that they must have a “sense of belonging” in order to succeed.

Sir Geoff explained how he grew up in a Britain where racial tensions were high and fuelled for political gain. “They, in fact, made my life very frightening,” recalled Sir Geoff, who found he had to develop a way to cope and spur himself on. He explained: “I didn’t want to get up in the morning in the sixties because I would see a newspaper headline – ‘Five hundred more people arrive’ – and I feared that would encourage somebody to try and kill me. Therefore one of the things I had to develop, which my mother gave me, is a sense of belonging and you need that to succeed.”

SEMLA's Usman Tariq also addressed the event held at the RBS headquarters in Dundas House. Usman spoke about the problems ethnic minorities face with career advancement. “We know that in some professions like law, it is acknowledged that ethnic minorities are not progressing to senior roles because of issues such as unconscious bias and the perception that traditional networks and routes to promotion often exclude ethnic minorities. Each and every one of us has the capacity to make a difference and to improve the opportunities and outcomes for others”.


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