Ea Change non-executive director celebrated for commitment to diversity

Non-executive director and original founder of change management specialist ea Change has been recognised by ITV’s prestigious National Diversity Awards 2022.

Cheryl Robson, who co-founded ea Change with her husband Steve in 1998, has been shortlisted in the Entrepreneur of the Year category at the annual awards, which celebrate charities, campaigners and activists, who work tirelessly to combat injustice and discrimination. The awards take place on 16th September in Liverpool.

Cheryl has spent a lifetime championing equality and diversity through the arts. Over the years she has worked as a writer, producer and director, established her own theatre company, and run her own independent and inclusive publishing company Aurora Metro and Supernova Books.

In addition, Cheryl has trained numerous young people of colour, helping them to find jobs in the publishing industry and committing to make it more diverse. She is currently leading a campaign for a statue of Virginia Woolf in Richmond which has raised 90% of the £50,000 target.

Cheryl was previously a finalist in the Lifetime Achievement category of the ITV National Diversity Awards in 2019.

Cheryl Robson said: “I’m honoured to be among such an incredible group of people who are determined to make the UK a more equitable, diverse and inclusive place to live and work.”

Ea Change Managing Director Andrew Oliver said: “Cheryl’s ethos and dedication to championing equality and diversity is inspiring and forms the backbone of all our work at ea Change. It isn’t enough to pay lip service to wanting to see a change, people and businesses need to make change happen in order for there to be any sort of improvement.

“From all the team at ea Change we would like to wish Cheryl the best of luck at the awards in September.”

Designed to highlight the country’s most inspirational and selfless people, the National Diversity Awards continue to gain endorsements from high profile figures such as Sir Lenny Henry CBE and Graham Norton. Activist Katie Piper, Emmerdale star Ash Palmisciano and Paralympic Gold Medallist Danny Creates were on this year’s judging panel, dedicating their time to help choose the highly anticipated shortlist.

Since going through a management buyout in 2021, ea Change’s company’s directors have placed an ever-increasing emphasis on being ethical and inclusive in their approach to business. To date, they have worked hard to eliminate unconscious bias from their recruitment process, leading to a 50:50 gender split within the company, increased employment of people from a variety of backgrounds and have created more opportunities for young people at the beginning of their careers.


Murphy’s Musings: Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, key master of the internet

Following his recent trip to Sweden and Finland, Jon Murphy, one of our Non-Executive Directors has written the first in a series of blogs, titled ‘Murphy’s Musings’. In this first entry, Jon delves in to the role of Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, key master of the internet.

I was in Stockholm recently and after doing 17,500 steps exploring and traipsing the streets of Gamla Stan, I stopped in a bar to treat myself to a good local beer.

I was soon chatting to a man about Stockholm, it’s history (surprisingly very little connection to Vikings) and some local luminaries of the city, including ABBA, Bjorn Borg, and the two Gretas (Garbo & Thunberg). He also mentioned a local woman who is the key-master of the internet. The only key-master I had heard of was the one in Ghostbusters, so I was hooked.

This key master is Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, she lives on the island of Rindö in the Stockholm Archipelago, and having sailed through it, I can testify that it is a stunningly beautiful place, seemingly perfect for a key master.

Anne-Marie is a representative of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). She has also been a member of the Internet Hall of Fame since 2013, indeed the only female Crypto Officer to have been inducted into the HoF. Tim Berners-Lee is a member of the Hall of Fame, and so is Al Gore!

Twice a year Anne-Marie travels to a place called Culpeper in Virginia, USA with some fellow crypto-folk (if anyone knows the significance of Culpeper please share) and conducts the Key Signing Ceremony, a ritual to help ensure the security of the Internet.

After my new mate left, I did some research and it turns out that the “key” that Anna-Marie is master of, is a physical key. It’s 5cm in length, made of metal and it opens a vault contains smart cards.

The key ceremony is a process in which the cryptographic keys that protect the Domain Name System (DNS) are renewed. As a result, the process makes it extremely hard to manipulate the DNS, maintaining the correct IP addresses being sent back and not dodgy ones which can take us to all sorts of dark places. The DNS would be less secure without the key ceremonies. Good to know!

The security put in place around the process is considerable. It takes two hours and has hundreds of stages to complete, all in the right order and the key must be within specific temperate tolerances, too hot or to hold and it won’t work, if damaged or has been tampered with, it won’t work. The entire process is videoed, requires eye scans and the like; again, good to know the security is tight.

Only 14 people on the planet hold these keys and not surprisingly these other key masters are predominantly male (shock!) and when Anne-Marie hands her key back in November this year (after being the internet’s key master since 2010) it’s likely a male will take over from her rather than a woman (again, shock!!) so rumours that all things internet are run by men are true then… sort yourselves out Internet folks, select a woman.

Thank you, Anne-Marie, for playing your part in keeping us safe for last 12 years.

Jon Murphy, Non-Executive Director, ea Change