Pike, a disability activist and presenter who is now paralysed from the waist down, spoke candidly about how his disability has given him more perspective on his privilege as a white man. He says, the “sense of being in a minority has given me strength.” While he was clear that he wouldn’t wish his situation on anyone, he believes that some good has come from it. Although he is now vulnerable without choosing to be, he adds, “vulnerability opens doors in ways you can’t imagine.”
Nadya Powell, Co-Founder of Utopia, hosted the Heroes Panel, with a number of business leaders who were truthful and candid in their storytelling. The author Caroline Paige talked about what it was like to transition while being a fighter pilot in the RAF at a time when the military had a law against LGBTQ recruits. For Paige, it meant she “looked at masculinity from a different perspective.” Her transition wasn’t about “rejecting masculinity,” but rather was “an awareness that I was a woman.”
Tanya Joseph, former Director of Business Partnerships, for Sport England, said the reality is that “vulnerability is not weakness,” something every leader on stage acknowledged. The conclusion, ultimately, was that vulnerability made you into a better leader; a belief the retail consultant and agency founder Mary Portas upholds wholeheartedly. For Portas, it’s about taking the alpha out of the workplace and “giving your feelings oxygen.” Portas was optimistic as she spoke of the future, believing that she’s “never felt change like this. The feminine is coming through.” And that, she says, will be beneficial for everyone.