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Understand the discrimination faced by black and minority people, support, gain information and take action. You can't be an Ally unless you understand the problem.

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From a post I saw on Instagram - Author Shezal

Whilst browsing instagram, I came across this post which got me thinking. The author was not happy about another "non-Black" company profiting from anti-racist work. Now, we all know that D&I is hot topic at the moment and many D&I Consultants/Organisations who worked in the D&I space pre-covid and the BLM protests focusing on all aspects of D&I apart from Race are now focusing on Race - the taboo topic pre-covid.

The author goes on to mention "Is this part of the White saviour complex? These poor Black folk don't know what they are doing, let me do the job and get paid handsomely whilst doing so for them."

It got me thinking about companies who are engaging White D&I consultants to do anti-racism work. Is this really a bad thing? Surely it is the job of EVERYONE to help end systemic racism right? I am a true believer of Allies and the power they have in fighting the injustices of racism along side their minority colleagues and friends and using their platform to amplify the minority voice. A lot of Allies I know are doing great work and I am grateful for their support.

If organisations are not engaging Black D&I Consultants to do Anti-Racism work, why not? And if White D&I Consultants are jumping on the bandwagon and doing Anti-Racism work and getting paid more than their Black Peers, what can we do to stop this? There was news late last year of a prominent diversity consultant getting paid more for a speaking assignment than her Black Peer at the same event.

So if there is a problem, how can we stop it from happening? Is it the job of these corporations to ensure that they are equally giving opportunities to experienced minority D&I Consultants who have lived experiences of the injustices of racism? Should White D&I Consultants stop jumping on the bandwagon and not take on Anti-Racism work and refer their Minority D&I Consultants? Or is it the job of everyone to end racism and as long as the job is getting done it does not matter.

I would like to hear your views

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In Dec 2019, my motto was New Year, New decade, New Opportunities, little did I know what a year 2020 will turn out to be.

January/February 2020

I was looking forward to starting a new job at a Boutique Recruitment Consultancy in mid January. I was looking forward to the autonomy I would have, the difference I would make. Diversity and Inclusion was always at the forefront of the work I did and I often wondered why it was often a tick box exercise for a lot of organisations and as for Race, well it was the unspoken word for many organisations - it was never part of the conversation.

March/April 2020

Slowly settling into my new role with a number of restrictions from my previous employer then lock down struck and I was put on furlough. The mental toll that Covid has put me under is unimaginable but I continue to be positive about the year.

May/June 2020

With Covid still causing unthinkable heartache worldwide, the news is filled with global protests over the murder of an African American Man in police custody. For me this has opened up the injustices that Black and Brown people face on a daily basis. I look at my two teenage black sons and wonder if the workplace will look different when they start work or how society will treat them because of the colour of their skin. Just look at London firms - how many people who look like me are in positions of influence? How many people who look like me work in Recruitment Consultancies who are filling these roles? I need to take action.

A lot of my clients and candidates are reaching out to me - How can I take action? What difference can I make? What difference can we make together? I have decided that I am on a mission to use my platform, connections and influence to make a difference - I launch www.allyship.co.uk - a community for allies to connect, come together and take action.

July/August 2020

Covid is still around, I go back to work 3 days a week but the recruitment market is still very quiet. Companies are reaching out to me for D&I consultancy work but I turn it down as I am still employed and I did not want a conflict of interest. However, I knew that it was important to make a difference and I continued to use my platform to amplify the voices of the unrepresented.

September/October 2020

Covid is still very much around and so is my passion and purpose to create positive change and educate people and companies on the importance of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. I decide that in order to make positive change, I would have to focus solely on D&I. So I hand my notice in. I start the Allyship Workshops and a D&I Consultancy.

November/December 2020

I feel excited, my head is popping with ideas and more opportunities are on the horizon. But for me it's all about ensuring that organisations and people understand the importance of inclusion, organisations and recruitment consultancies know where and how to recruit diverse talent and when diverse talent has been recruited, it is important that they feel like they belong within an organisation and can see leaders who look like them within the leadership team. This fight is not Black vs White, it's EVERYONE fighting against the injustices of racism. I set up the Allyship Book Club to learn together with a community of like minded people. We are reading book no. 2 - How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi. It's not too late to join! I do some work with a law firm and it is launched to read- click here.

So as 2020 draws to a close and 2021 is on the horizon, I want to ensure that I use my platform to make positive change and ensure that our children regardless of their colour - understand the importance of representation and inclusion and have many opportunities. I hope that organisations will start to offer opportunities to unrepresented talent - regardless of their colour, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. Help me make it happen.

Please click here to read my latest newsletter and if you want to work with me, need further information or just a chat, do not hesitate to contact me. chikere@inclusion.co.uk

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By Maria Lee

Maria is 1st generation British Born Chinese (BBC) with parents who hail from Hong Kong. She is a mother of 3 based in Berkshire.

Quite often, I find myself not always having the logic to explain my feelings and realising the root causes after I have taken some time for reflection (and internet research). This is the case with my ethnicity.

When I was young, I used to call myself Asian as that’s the continent which Hong Kong belongs (the birth place of both my parents). It wasn’t until my 20s in a passing conversation with a make up artist friend that I gave my ethnicity any further thought. She had been told that her client was Asian and she proceeded to select her make up assuming an oriental palette until her colleague pointed out to her that it may be South Asian complexion. That’s the first time I gave any thought to how diverse the ‘Asian’ box was.

Over the last few years, as we’ve become hungry for diversity data and as I review boxes for selecting ethnicity, I find myself being more and more defiant if the categorisations are too broad i.e. if Asian is the only box then I will likely choose not to answer.

Asia contains 60% of the world’s population and China (the most populous country in Asia) currently accounts for circa 18% of the population. So I realised that when we scoop the majority of people into a single box, it didn’t sit well with me. I’ve also realised that using the term ‘ethnic minority’ didn’t sit well with me – how can the majority be classified as a minority group?

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