Sophie Williams | Active Allyship in the Workplace - Making anti-racist spaces for workers and communities

Equity + Justice, Series Taking Action!, Future of Work, 2023, Engage in Global Challenges

BC’s low unemployment rate is giving some workers an advantage. Employers are using strategies to appeal to potential employees, investing in recruitment bonuses and increasing benefits to boost retention. But, in this competitive environment, BC’s evolving workforce is looking for employers to also offer something more fundamental –– an equitable, anti-racist workplace.

The Taking Action! lecture series offers fresh ideas from anti-racism activists outside of our province. We hosted UK Author, TED Speaker, and equalities advocate Sophie Williams who lead a presentation about the fundamentals of active allyship in the workplace and daily life.

Following the lecture Sophie was joined in discussion by moderator Sharon Thira, Executive Director of Engagement and Education at the BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner.

Wed, 25 Jan 2023

Online event

About Taking Action!

The Taking Action! series is part of a partnership between SFU and the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network, a provincial government program that connects B.C. communities with support, information and training to prevent and respond to incidents of racism and hate. With this partnership, SFU aims to build reciprocal relationships that combine the university’s research expertise with the knowledge and experience of community activists who have been leading anti-racism work in B.C. for years.

For more about past Taking Action! events with Dr. Eva Jewell of the Yellowhead Institute in conversation with Ginger Gosnell-Myers, and Sarah Augustine in conversation with Sophie Pierre, including video, transcripts and resources, go here.

About the speakers

Sophie Williams

Sophie Williams is an expert in the field of Diversity, Equity and inclusion. She is the Author of Anti-Racist Ally (2020) and Millennial Black (2021), a TED Speaker, the Founder of the @OfficialMillennialBlack Instagram page, and an Intersectional Equity Consultant for several businesses in the UK. 

Sophie is a regular panelist, speaker, consultant, and workshop facilitator with a focus on Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion, and Allyship - through her talks she encourages people to take their first steps of their own activism or allyship journeys, or to build on their existing foundations to truly build equality into their personal and working lives. 

Sophie’s writing has appeared in publications such as The Guardian, Bustle, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Refinery29, Elle, and Grazia

Before beginning writing, Sophie had a career in advertising; where she has held the positions of COO and CFO. Sophie held the role of Global Manager of Production Planning at Netflix - she left in spring 2021 after leading the European employee walkout in protest of transphobic content.

Sharon Thira

Sharon Thira is the Executive Director of Education and Engagement at British Columbia's Office of the Human Rights Commissioner. She has focussed much of her work on equity issues, first in developing suicide prevention programs for youth and adults then as Executive Director for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society where she developed response and treatment programs for residential schools survivors. Through her learnings from survivors, she participated in the development of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and moved on to work in Indigenous Health Research at UBC then Indigenous Education and Engagement at New Brunswick Community College. She is interested in the interplay between individual and collective responsibility and in the history of social systems to inform how we can respond to the intense polarization that we are facing in British Columbia. She believes that change can happen quickly and that we all have a role to play in sustaining the gains we make as a society. She is the proud mother of a strong daughter and step-daughter and while she is adopted through Halalt FN on Vancouver Island she is Indigenous and of mixed race from South America.


Further reading

Event partner

Events in the Taking Action! series