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Mastering Diversity conference debut marks historic milestone for inclusion in Wales

Wales First Minister, Mark Drakeford, with Bernie Davies, organiser of the Mastering Diversity conference. Photo credit: Behind the Lens Media

The inaugural ‘Mastering Diversity’ conference, held on September 18, 2023, at Cardiff City Hall, has been hailed as a resounding success by all attendees, marking a historic moment in the pursuit of diversity, equality, and inclusion within Wales.

The event, organised by Bernie Davies, an esteemed black entrepreneur, multiple award-winning bestselling author, TEDx speaker, business strategist, and diversity and inclusion thought leader, brought together a diverse assembly of individuals from both public and commercial spheres to deliberate on the pivotal issues of diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging within Welsh communities.

The full-day conference ran from 9 am to 5 pm and featured several prominent keynote speakers who added their voices to this crucial conversation. The event commenced with an inspiring address by First Minister of Wales, Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, who set the tone for the day. The morning’s keynote speakers also included Michelle Morris, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales; Gus Williams, CEO Bevan Buckland LLP; and Professor Meena Upadhyaya OBE, Emeritus Professor at Cardiff University.

Unfortunately, due to illness, Welsh Government Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt MS, was unable to attend in person but sent a heartfelt video message to the conference attendees, emphasising the Welsh Government’s commitment to the Anti-Racism Action Plan and its broader diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda.

The event’s afternoon speeches began with a pre-recorded message of support from Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Economy in Wales, and went on to include talks by Duchess Nivin of Lamberton; Margaret Ali, Director of the prestigious Universal Peace Federation; Dee Llewellyn, the creator of the Welsh diversity and inclusion awards; and Rob Edwards, Neurodiversity UK entrepreneurship expert.

Additional keynote speakers included Alys Carlton speaking in the diversity in business zone; Shazia Hussain speaking in the cognitive and neuro-diversity zone; Anwen and Dave Aspden from Stable; Donal Galligan, CEO Ombudsman Association; and Cllr Julie Sangani.

The conference was made possible through the generous sponsorship and support of NatWest, Bevan Buckland LLP, Transport for Wales, Chwarae Teg, Stable, Seren Global Media, BBC, and S4C. Many of these organisations sponsored zones throughout the day, with keynote speeches on topics ranging from the benefits of diversity in business, to the challenges faced by neuro-diverse individuals.

The event provided attendees with opportunities for in-depth exploration of vital topics through multiple break-out, seminar-style discussion rooms, covering subjects like allyship, cultural diversity, neurodiversity, religious tolerance, gender equality, and diversity in education and entrepreneurship.

Moreover, the conference hosted a diverse range of exhibitors, including Adoption UK, Women’s Equality Network, Race Council Cymru, Stable Resources, BAWSO, and more, underscoring the importance of collaboration and networking in advancing diversity and inclusion in Wales.

The overwhelming success of the inaugural ‘Mastering Diversity’ conference has set a precedent for future editions, and organiser, Bernie Davies, is enthusiastic about the prospect of making this a yearly event, fostering ongoing dialogue and progress in the realms of diversity, equality, and inclusion within Wales. The event has garnered wide praise from all sectors of the Welsh community, with the Welsh Government’s official twitter channel proclaiming it was, “Proud to witness history,” at the first Mastering Diversity conference.

Bernie Davies, the driving force behind the ‘Mastering Diversity’ conference, is widely recognised for her contributions to business development and training, serving as a Business Wales and Equal Power Equal Voice Mentor. Her dedication and impact extend across the United Kingdom and globally, with hundreds of businesses, participants in the Welsh Government Accelerator programme, major banks, universities, and further education colleges benefitting from her expertise.

Bernie Davies, event organiser and Diversity and Inclusion Champion, said:

“I am thrilled by the overwhelming success of the inaugural Mastering Diversity conference. This event has demonstrated the immense appetite within Wales for meaningful conversations and concrete actions to advance diversity, equality, and inclusion. It was truly heartwarming to see individuals from all walks of life come together to champion these vital causes.

“My heartfelt thanks go out to our esteemed speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees, who have collectively made this conference such a resounding triumph. This first Welsh Mastering Diversity conference has sown the seeds of a more inclusive Wales, and I am excited about the journey ahead. Together, we will build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive future for all our communities.”