The Apprentice accused of ‘erasing’ black women by entrepreneurs

The Apprentice has been criticized by a group of leading black entrepreneurs for “erasing” black and dark-skinned women from the popular BBC show.

The group, who were successful contestants on Dragon’s Den in season 17, questioned why dark-skinned women were being ‘erased’ from the show.

The pair, made up of Natalie Duvall and Alison Burton, received £50,000 investment from Deborah Madden and Peter Jones in 2022 for their business March Muse.

They suggested that black and dark-skinned women were under-represented on UK television and that this was unacceptable.

A dark-skinned woman last appeared on The Apprentice in 2017 after Joanna Jarju made it to week 12 in 2017.

In an Instagram post, the duo said they were “saddened” after seeing this year’s line-up.

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They said: “Why are black women entrepreneurs being erased on shows like this? More specifically…representation of dark skin? Where are they? We know they apply and we know there are a lot of show creators who are doing this. Looking for “talent” to fill roles. So what happened on @apprenticeuk this year?

“Yes we know it’s just a TV show… but it has an impact, and why can’t we be a part of it? A lot of young people watch this show and you can’t be what you can’t see.”

They pointed out that they know of “hundreds of fantastic black female entrepreneurs who have succeeded without a show like this,” adding that “they shouldn’t have to fight to be seen.

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“We need equity, investment and being in the boardroom.

“@apprenticeuk 2023 is a clear example of what is happening in the corporate world all the time. Black women erased!

“As gatekeepers, the @bbc needs to do better.”

This year’s season of The Apprentice saw the appearance of black and mixed race contestants such as Simba Rwambiwa, a senior sales representative from Birmingham, and Rochelle Anthony, a business owner from Bedfordshire.

In an interview with The Voice, Burton said she believes the BBC “needs to be actively looking to make sure they’re ticking the diversity box correctly.”

“I feel like with black women, they’re using a BAME approach, and BAME is a word that I absolutely hate,” she said.

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“But when they use BAME they can get away with throwing a melting pot of people to tick the diversity box and that’s where we’re being thrown an ambiguous heritage and people will say ‘OK, she’s not white’ or if you have Asian is. A woman who ticks the box.”

Burton also added: “It annoys me that for men, the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice, basically because they’re fetishized and it’s Idris, that they can be any color.

“But for women, we always have to be the European beauty standard of what they want, the Kim Kardashian type of exotic look and it doesn’t stop there.”


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