Shahid Bashir is the originator of ’Diversity Works’, which examines the ‘diversity proposition’ through a series of portraits of and perspectives from, business and thought leaders, managers and agents of change.
The project asks;
– How is diversity actually perceived and experienced within the world of work?
– Do we need to drop the ‘D’ word or can it be reclaimed for the value it brings?
– What are the conditions under which diversity can flourish in organisations?
The body of work challenges misconceptions and expounds on the value of rethinking leadership, culture and behaviour to develop people, processes and systems that are inclusive and facilitate difference in the broadest sense of the word.
The series consists of a collection of fine art, photographic portraits which have been taken in a particular style moving away from the happy, smiley corporate portraits we are all used to seeing. Instead, they incorporate a contemporary black and white, deadpan format as contributors are asked to reflect on a specific moment in their lives when they were excluded, or felt left out.
The intention is to create drama by shifting the sitter to take the position of the outsider; To provoke curiosity by capturing the subject in a way they are not used to being seen, by themselves and their peers. To seize the viewers’ attention with a degree of intensity and to personify the idea that the concept of equality, diversity and inclusion, is not merely black and white it’s more about the shades of grey in-between.
The imagery is accompanied by a powerful narrative prompted through a consistent format as each contributor has responded to three prompts;
Diversity Is… , Diversity Isn’t… and Diversity Works…
The statements provide thought-provoking insight revealing a series of fresh perspectives, reflecting the nature and spirit of diversity, all quite different yet linked with a binding thread of underlying connectivity. They act as a basis for new conversations on the value of diversity, what diversity isn’t and under what conditions it flourishes acting as a catalyst for culture change.
In the summer of 2015 exhibitions and commissions began with the first at the Law Society followed by Mansion house, Linklaters LLP, KPMG UK and Thomson Reuters. The body of work grew in 2016, with Dowshan Humzah facilitating introductions across a wider range of sectors and more exhibitions are planned for 2017.
“As an artist/consultant, I firmly believe it is critical to be innovative and creative to increase engagement, dialogue and understanding of how equality, diversity and inclusion are the cornerstone to establishing integrity in business. My overarching goal is to move the agenda out of the backroom into the board room and to place it at the heart of the corporate planning process”.
About the Artist
Shahid attended St Martin’s School of Art and Parsons School of Design in New York, studying Fashion, Photography and Illustration. After graduation, he did the fashion, music and art thing and travelled the world rock n roll style before opening an art gallery in the Brick Lane area of London. The purpose of gallery was to examine the British Asian experience as it evolved through fashion, music and art working closely with musician, Talvin Singh (Mercury music prize winner 1999). As a gallery owner and curator, he was interviewed by Andrew Marr for a documentary, ‘The Day Britain died,’ which examined cultural diversity and the evolution of a new ‘Britishness’.
He was approached by Arts Council England and agreed to become involved in their drive to make the arts funding system more accessible and inclusive. With a remit spanning the nine English regions he managed an array of equality and diversity schemes. This was his first role on the ‘other side of the fence’ working with policy makers and affecting change from the inside. Similar engagements were to follow working with the Victoria and Albert Museum, the London Development Agency and the Greater London Authority where he managed and led Boris Johnson’s business diversity programme.
During this period, he also created his first artistic expressions; Illusion of Inclusion, Straight-jacket of Terminology and Fornication of the ‘I’.
After 12 years of affecting change and influencing organisations to create cultures where people could bring the whole of themselves to work, he realised he had neglected to do this for himself. Shahid then consciously re-positioned himself to create work which reflects his authentic self combining his experiences across different domains, thus; the ‘Diversity Works…’ portrait project was born.
The notion of the authentic self, exploring stories of the world within us and what drives behaviour pervades his work. He exhibits within the receptions and congregational areas of large organisations always creating a strong interactive element to his photographic installations, they are engagement pieces that facilitate self reflection, reveal fresh perspectives and start new conversations.
Shahid, is currently authoring his first management book, “Diversity Isn’t a dirty word” whilst, studying an MSc in business psychology which informs his consulting and arts practice. He incorporates an existential phenomenological approach to develop projects and secure commissions, exploring themes such as “Inclusive Leadership”, “Unconscious Bias” and is creating an installation titled, “The Psychology of perception and making snap decisions, as seen through the window of portraiture”, (working title).
For exhibitions, commissions, workshops or speaking engagements, contact: