The colour of power

The importance of diversity in the workplace

By Grace Reid

The year 2020 will be remembered for a global pandemic that disproportionately impacted the lives of ethnic minorities and for the expression of universal outrage at the murder of George Floyd, which sparked racial unrest across the globe but also prompted a much-needed dialogue about racial discrimination.

For several weeks, the outrage seemed ubiquitous: social media was awash with black squares, young and old alike took to streets to protest against racial inequalities, and even big brands populated their websites with stock images of people of colour promising change and swearing allegiance to equality, diversity and inclusion. 

There was much heady talk of a “watershed moment”, a “new dawn” in race relations, and perhaps for the first time in decades, hope that real change was possible.

Yet, the latest data from the Colour of Power index published online makes for sober reading, and it is clear that a herculean approach will be needed if such a hope is to become a reality.



As a black female member of British society this is of personal concern, and these recent events have caused me to reflect on my own experiences of discrimination. 

This is an age where brands are being judged not by what they say but by what they do.

Sadly, in my previous roles in both the corporate and non-profit sectors, it must be said that despite having earnt the right to a seat at the table, to express my views and to give the benefit of my experience, I often felt as if I was not a fully paid-up member of the tribe. 

Over my career, I can recall several instances where in leadership roles I was unduly questioned on my credentials and experience, asked about my heritage, or mistaken for being a junior or even part of the hospitality team. Indeed, it was largely because of this that I decided to become the master of my own destiny and set up my own business.

Microaggressions aside, we cannot let this moment pass us by. Yes, there is a huge problem, but we have been provided with a golden opportunity to change the narrative and recalibrate the balance of power by creating truly inclusive working environments where employees are not just part of the conversation, but integral to the solution.

This is an age where brands are being judged not by what they say but by what they do. Moreover, diversity in the workplace makes good economic sense: failure to take action will result in businesses missing out on attracting the next generation of up-and-coming talent that could breathe new life into their organisations.

As the smart money knows, diverse teams are innovative teams – they think more creatively, perform better financially and make smarter decisions.


Grace Erin Reid is a business coach and consultant who helps businesses get clarity on diversity and inclusion. More info at urlifeurbusiness.com


 

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