Released On 20 June 2023
Meet the Expert: Dawn Morton-Young
In our latest expert interview, we meet Award Winning Executive Coach, Dawn Morton-Young. Specialising in underrepresented leaders and founders, Dawn is a DEI &B strategist, trainer and speaker.
WLC: Dawn, please tell us about your background and how you built your expertise in diversity, inclusion and leadership.
Dawn: So my background is extremely varied, and I think that has contributed to my empathy and understanding of people and the nuances of different experiences. I'm a 3rd generation caribbean immigrant - born here, and grew up somewhat unconventionally with my grandmother aunt and uncle, on a council estate in south west London - as my mum worked nights as a nurse - I am an only child so spent a lot of time alone, and it was there that I developed a love for the characters in the books I read and people - it was also I believe how I developed my observation of behaviour and society.
I started out after school pursuing law, accounting and then HR and I worked in those areas for a long time until my mid twenties when I saw a role for a equality and diversity officer for a county council. I remember I had to prepare a presentation for the interview on the disparity of different groups within the area, why it was so, and ways to work to make outcomes better for all. I had no experience other than what I saw around me, but somehow aced the interview and got the role. The job mixed community and internal diversity and inclusion work and was promoted to senior officer before leaving to go back into more general HR and HR project management was basically the start of my career in this area.
WLC: What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?
Dawn: I enjoy all of it, but my preference is coaching - giving people who are marginalised or underrepresented the space to explore their feelings with someone who 'gets it'. You can almost feel the relief as they are able to talk about things, and work through mindset beliefs that they fear would be ridiculed or misunderstood in a different environment, and then get the tools to be able to work through that and thrive in their workplaces. Thats the most enjoyment I receive.
WLC: What are the main barriers to diversity and inclusion that clients talk to you about at the moment?
Mindset mainly, lack of confidence, impostor syndrome, paranoia and feeling the need to assimilate (code switch)
WLC: If a future leader wanted to focus on developing one skill or characteristic in particular, what do you think that should be?
Dawn: Empathy - empathetic leadership is so important - understanding or being able to put themselves in the skin of others - even if their life experience is different.
WLC: Please tell us something surprising about you?
Dawn: Surprising? Well I guess the most surprising thing is that I also sing for a living, and travel around the world doing it. I have been on stages at the Royal Albert Hall, Madison Square Gardens, The 02, London and Wembley Stadium, and festivals Glastonbury and Coachella to name a few.