The AudaCITY – Talent Rising conference was held at Guildhall on July 7th as a key part of the Lord Mayor's Diversity and Inclusion programme.

Lord Mayor, Fiona Woolf CBE, is only the second female Lord Mayor in nearly a thousand years of City history and she has chosen as her theme "The energy to transform lives".  At AudaCITY – Talent Rising, over 150 attendees met and debated the barriers which stop women, ethnic minorities, LGBT and physically disabled employees from attaining their full potential.

Chaired by the BBC's Evan Davis, the conference split into two halves – a Fishbowl and a Hackathon.

AudaCity Evan Davis

The Fishbowl provided delegates with the opportunity to network and debate with some of the City's most powerful role models:

• Black businessman and philanthropist, Ken Olisa OBE of Restoration Partners (Chair of the organizing committee);

• Former Attorney General, Baroness Scotland;

• Diversity thought leader, Rachel Short of YSC;

• Transgender pioneer, Antonia Belcher of MHBC;

• Paralympian and ex-FSA head of Corporate Responsibility, Claire Harvey; and

• Hedge fund manager and broadcaster Alpesh Patel.

The spirited debate examined issues as far ranging as the imposition of quotas to the naming and shaming of organisations with a poor record for inclusion and diversity.

The AudaCITY – Talent Rising conference

Then, using leading edge techniques including a tech-centred Hackathon, attendees developed a Talent Rising Manifesto to present to the Lord Mayor for her use in driving change in the City.

Commenting on AudaCITY – Talent Rising, Fiona Woolf said:

"This approach marks a radical change from the City's usual approach to topics like this.  I believe that this is the first time in history that the City has seen a gathering of Affinity Groups across the diversity spectrum. The creation of an Affinity Group of Affinity Groups represents one of the high spots of my Mayoralty.  The energy displayed and the willingness to think audaciously promises well for the Talent Rising Manifesto."

Panellist and Chair of the organizing committee, Ken Olisa OBE, added:

"The City of London is one of the most vibrant places in the 21st century, but it becomes progressively 19th century the higher up its constituent organisations you care to look.  AudaCity – Talent Rising gave an opportunity for the talented individual contributors and middle managers to explore the common issues which impede their contribution to the common wealth. And we raised over £200,000 in cash and in-kind donations for the Lord Mayor's Appeal! Further proof of the power of diverse talent!"

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