There’s a lot of talk around diversity happening
Yet the talk doesn’t seem to be transending into action, especially when it comes to race equality agendas such as representation of intersectional black women in senior positions of various industries. I run a platform Diversity Matters which unapologetically leads with race when tackling diversity for 2 simple reasons; race is usually the most uncomfortable of the diversity categories to speak about – often left unaddressed in the workplace in hope that avoiding it means avoid facing any issues around it (actually does the reverse in damaging degrees), and secondly, race is the only diversity category which represents those most marginalised right across the diversity categories (when was the last time views of black trans women were discussed in the workplace, black people with disabilities represented in media? And for the record, a white man isn’t the only representation LGBTQ).
Representation matters, so investing in race agendas is investing in diversity.Don’t settle…
My drive, passion, motivation, energy, is in fact driven from a frustration of being ‘woke’ to a matrix, a system that doesn’t really want too many of ‘me’ to succeed, just a ‘token’ few. I’m faced with biases and stereotypes of what I can and should be. Plus, I’m a woman – and I’m black. Double wham of scariness for white middle-everything-men. Yet I set up Diversity Matters as a means to bring change. Get people truly understanding why diversity really does matter, and how they we benefit from being engaged with diverse audiences and narratives. I chose to create something that would allow me to break out of this ‘system’ that programmes me to have such a lack of self-esteem – I’m not even represented in positions of power and decision-making, to ensure I settle.
The very matrix I’m trying to break out of, is what I’m caught in a catch-22 with once again after meeting with a corporate company who gave the usual spiel; ‘love what you’re doing – no budget… BUT you can use our space for free (*insert corporate smirk* be grateful, we’re doing you a favour – though technically you’re doing us a favour but we’re a top corporate company and you need us – though technically we need you… we’ll just package this meeting as YOU need US. Done)’. I shock hands saying, ‘ok‘ because surely half an opportunity is better than none, no?
Not investing in race agendas perpetuates a cycle of inequality
Companies who talk about championing diversity, yet don’t pay their POC (people of colour) collaborators who organise ‘diverse events’ on their behalf, are ironically perpetuating a cycle inequality in order to ‘tick a box’! The same goes for speaker opportunities from mega corporates. It’s tiring, degrading and toxic! BAME (black, Asian, minority ethnic)-lead platforms are representative of the very audiences many corporate companies can’t attract themselves – they offer a service, so why is it always expected to be for FREE? And giving a space to host events is a cute gesture – but it doesn’t pay bills.
Perhaps corporates who continually do this need to be called out? Though even that is mentally draining to do for free (pay me and I’ll tell you what you’re doing wrong, and how to do it right)! It’s happening far too often to the point where I’m being smirked at when I included a budget to pay my speakers (who are often WOC – women of colour). I know my worth which is why I’m so passionate, and perhaps so passionately disappointed. My ‘Let’s do Lunch’ blog isn’t just about the smiles, selfies and food pics. It’s my safe space for self-expression outside of things going right all the time.
I’m however still on a high from the Black Beauty and Fashion Awards, set up due to the lack of black recognition in an industry black people (women especially) contribute so much to – so we create our own opportunities. I’m putting it out there for a Diversity Matters Awards by 2020 celebrating companies who speak the diversity spiel – because put their money where their mouth is!
Giving opportunities in half measures isn’t progress. Don’t say you champion diversity if you’re not ready to invest in it. For those who are – I’m here for this, let’s make it happen – let’s do lunch? kai@diversity-Matters.org.ukFeatured pic| Allyship: Ray Jones, engaging in open, honest and often uncomfortable discussions addressing race equality at a Diversity Matters Workshop at ThoughtWorks
I’d love to hear your thoughts… Do you face similar challenges? Any advice on partnerships with companies which are actually meaninful? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!
So, when are we doing lunch?… or coffee?
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p.s I’m “delightfully dyslexic“, so pls read past any typos, unless they’re embarrassing then in that case flag it up to me!)