Shannon Walker: Positively disrupting the business industry’s ethnic business agenda
According to London Business School (2006), women of mixed ethnicity are deemed over two and a half times more entrepreneurial than white women. Nonetheless, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women remain severely underrepresented within the entrepreneur world.
Social Disruption is the workings of Shannon Walker who founded the digital PR business just 8 months ago. Her passion for brand communications started with her late grandfather and role model when Walker was working alongside him and his steel pan business. “From the age of seven I have been involved in his musical Steel Pan business, as a player and marketeer. What started with helping to paint posters to promote performances as a child to then getting involved in press activity, sparked a passion for brand storytelling, inspiring me then to do a PR degree and land job opportunities in this field.”
“I have been in the communications industry for 7 years and have loved working with iconic premium brands, championing forward and at the forefront of their influencer marketing and digital communication strategies. The concept for Social Disruption was born because I craved more purpose through my profession. I was inspired to create disruption to encourage positive change in my industry and support the businesses committed to change, but needing guidance. However, working with the luxury industry, I have always found myself the only, or one of few women of colour in the team or the wider business.” The frustration and drive to make a difference and be purposeful was sparked back in December 2019, when social injustices were at the forefront of Walkers mind, which inspired her to launch Social Disruption back in early March 2020.
2020 without a doubt has highlighted the racial injustice throughout the world, but Walker was passionate to make change long before the issues were fueled by the onset of global protests. Racial injustice has been a problem in the business world long before 2020 and Walker was determined to rally change.
“Several brands were accused of racist offences, to add, Influencer Marketing was being increasingly linked to mental health issues, called out for the lack of authenticity, trust and diversity. Being a professional in this space had taken its toll on me to the point I didn’t personally fulfill it and knew I could use my expertise outside the constraints of working for a brand to evoke change and setting up a business to do so.”
Walker believes being a part of the BAME community has only encouraged her successes and career. She highlights the financial aspect of the business world, specifically under funded workplaces, which potentially impacts the achievements of the community. “I personally don’t believe in limiting myself mentally based on the colour of my skin or heritage. If anything, being aware of the societal and institutional uneven playing fields has driven me to push harder and embrace what makes me different to carve out a niche in my career. I believe the process of encouraging women of colour starts with planting the seeds in the next generation.”
Walker adds, “there could be more equal opportunity internships, mentorship schemes and sponsorship of training and education. In my experience, I was fortunate to have had a part-time job whilst in education, therefore I did several PR internships using all my savings to pay for expenses incurred. For most young people in the BAME community, they literally cannot afford to work for free. So financially investing in marginalised groups through paid schemes are just a few ways that provide exposure to the business sector as well as the contacts, confidence and experience needed to succeed later in life.
When looking to the future of BAME women in the business sector, Walker emphasises the importance of the portrayal of successful women in a very current narrative. “If we want to inspire and empower the next generation of businesswomen, then they need to see themselves represented, to fuel them to know that those spaces of entrepreneurship and success are achievable and for them too. To add, it is not only important to open the conversation to these women, but to also change the narrative beyond the pigeonhole of race.”
With a young business, Walker has huge hopes and aspirations for the upcoming years. “The vision is for the business to be the go-to consultancy worldwide for inspiring businesses wanting to create meaningful communications through digital storytelling. I’m currently a one women team, but I’d love to build a full-time team of “disruptors”. The idea is to do so first in the UK, then expand offices in key global territories to support the reach of the work and impact. Also developing a mentorship programme where I can nurture the next wave of industry disruptors, providing them experience, coaching and access to my network to help platform their careers.I chose the specific brand name as I loved and felt so connected to what it stood for; to champion change and transformation, to challenge the status quo and bring about something new.”
You can find more about Social Disruption through their website and social medias: