A write up of our ‘Leadership & Allyship’ event with Vanessa Belleau by Lara Sheldrake.


Two weeks ago (27th October 2020) we discussed leadership and allyship with F&F member Vanessa Belleau aka @vanessabsmiles who is a D&I expert, executive coach and the founder of @Highfifteen_

We learned what it takes to be a diverse business owner and why we should care about diversity, inclusion & belonging. We also discussed unconscious bias, how we can create a sense of belonging in our own communities and the key skills required to be a diverse leader. ⁣

We covered so much in this session, here are just a few key takeaways:

  • Social media: There is a value in sharing, so use your voice and your platform to amplify the voices of others. Communicate why the content you’re sharing resonates with you, how you connect with it and why you want others to know about it.⁣
  • Silence is detrimental to the cause⁣
  • Key skills/values required to be a diverse leader are: Authenticity, Passion, Uniqueness and Purpose.⁣
  • “Diversity is a statistic, inclusion is an act and belonging is a feeling” – LOVED this quote from @xupasnax ⁣
  • Unconscious bias: Stop hiding behind it. Understand your default biases. Educate yourself. ⁣
  • When inviting people of colour into your community, offer them the opportunity to share their expertise/skills rather than their story or perspective as a minority.
  • Connect to those you want to welcome in with purpose.
  • Small businesses can change the world because they are agile and fearless. ⁣
  • Start somewhere, engage, be inquisitive, ask questions, show humility, be vulnerable and be courageous.
  • Accept you’ll get it wrong sometimes.⁣

Thank you Vanessa for your time and expertise. I’m excited to see the action that’s taken as a result of our session (and we’re really excited to be working with you!)


You can find out more about Vanessa here and contact here at vanessa@highfifteen.com



Lara Sheldrake

Lara Sheldrake

About your author

Lara Sheldrake is a business mentor, consultant and Founder at Found & Flourish. Lara writes and speaks on the topics of entrepreneurship, motherhood and social media for business. She also hosts the Bossing It podcast, aimed at empowering the next generation of female founders in the UK. Send Lara an email. You can also find her on Instagram @Lara_Sheldrake or Twitter @Lara_Sheldrake.

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