Welcome to the 21st GG2 Leadership Awards!
When I first came to the UK in the 1960s, the barriers preventing people of colour and other minorities achieving their full potential were visible for everyone to see. Job and accommodation adverts in shop windows brazenly told non-white people not to apply. Prime time television comedy shows stereotyped people of colour in ways that today most people would deem offensive.
At that time, words like diversity, multiculturalism and inclusivity were largely confined to sociology textbooks. A great deal of outward progress has been made since then to protect the rights of minorities including such things as legislation to outlaw discrimination and hate speech, and the institution of gay marriage.
The barriers to advancement are far less visible than they were 50 years ago. But that does not mean they are not there. Statistics show there are still glass ceilings operating in most walks of life, stopping minority individuals fulfilling their potential and hampering talent from rising to the top.
And that is why I am so delighted that you are joining us tonight at these Leadership Awards. For year after year they fly the flag for diversity by spotlighting the amazing achievements of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic community.
I hope you have a wonderful evening and are as inspired as I know I will be by the fantastic achievements of our worthy winners.