A panel discussion included Priya Shah, founder of BAME in property, who noticed immediately how ‘un-diverse’ the industry was when she joined over five years ago as a comms consultant – a role she described as a major part of the jigsaw rather than the ‘offensive’ title ‘PR girl’. She too has experienced derogatory treatment, being called an Indian princess by a former client. ‘We should always take a moment to pause and reflect on what we’re going to say because what you're saying may not be received in the same way that you are actually giving it’, said Shah. Creating the right company level culture is also key, she said, consisting of people with different lived experiences. And Nikki Linsell of Public Practice was adamant that everyone must really make an effort, including going to different sources and outlets when recruiting; ‘stepping outside of your own comfort zone’. People could also take the simple step of running job descriptions through unbiased, gender coded free software systems to ensure that the language used is appropriate and have no gender connotation, for example.
The group suggested a number of measures to progress the cause, including interviewing 50% women for roles whilst being careful about box-ticking, and talking more about role models, said Bell, or adopting the Rooney Rule where companies interview a person from an ethnic minority background for all leadership roles, said Shah. Having an ‘open and honest conversation’ would also be a good start towards embracing as much variety as possible, said Linsell, But undertaking research on the ethnicity pay gap could be eye-opening, said Abisogun. ‘It gives metrics and that’s what companies need’, he said. Quality, competence and capability is not enough. ‘That’s the brutal honest truth here, so we need something else’.
But another key takeaway, though, would be being honest, showing love, being humble and being prepared to be vulnerable, said Abisogun. ‘It’s easy; honestly’, he said. ‘Let’s just start the conversation’.
Watch the webinar recording