Diversity in Leadership: Spotlight on leaders

Salma Zulfiqar

This blog is part of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce’s (ABCC) Diversity in Leadership campaign.

The Diversity in Leadership campaign works with some of the regions’ biggest employers in order to boost the numbers of women and those from black and minority ethnic (BAME), lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and disability groups being represented on boards of directors and in leadership roles.

Click here to find out more about the campaign.

I was brought up in Small Heath, Birmingham and come from a working class Pakistani migrant background - opportunities were far and few between when I was growing up, writes Salma Zulfiqar.

But I knew from a young age that I wanted to make something of my self and persistence and self belief was key for this.

My creativity started at school with my paintings and collages hanging in the corridors, setting an example for artwork and for other students. 

I studied hard and went to University to study Broadcast Journalism - I gave my free time to interning and was offered a job with ITV news - which is where I started my creative career.

I was one of the first Asian faces to work in that newsroom and it was a tough environment. 

I had big ambitions at a young age and wanted to be in the big city so I managed to get a job with the world's leading news agency - The Associated Press Television News In London and that’s where my love for the world grew.

I was sent to Pakistan to cover the coup by General Musharaf and to India to report on elections and this was an eye opening experience - the poverty and injustice drove me to work for the United Nations where I highlighted underreported humanitarian issues.

I was blessed to work on promoting humanity and visited countries such as Kenya, Chad Yemen , Pakistan and Afghanistan to highlight the suffering of people and women and children in particular. 

More recently, I started the Migration Project to empower women and promote social cohesion and prevent hate from spreading in our communities through art and creativity.  

My ARTconnects sessions started in Birmingham and have been spreading with sessions held in London, Norwich, Manchester, in the UAE, France and in Italy this year. 

Last year I created the Migration Blanket with refugee and migrant women in Birmingham - it was an empowering experience for us all - the artwork was exhibited in Birmingham, Manchester  and will also be exhibited during the biggest art show in the world - The Venice Biennale 2019.

It’s evident to me that women from migrant and refugee backgrounds need to have the right support in order to feel part of society and succeed and so my journey continues to do just that.