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Changing the Game: BAME Entrepreneurs Who Are Championing Diversity in UK Industries

Changing the Game: BAME Entrepreneurs Who Are Championing Diversity in UK Industries main image

The UK’s largest companies are still failing to improve ethnic diversity on a senior level, according to a report on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) executives.

The number of BAME board members, both executive and non-executive, decreased from 9 percent in 2018 to 7.4 percent in 2019.

While US FTSE 100 companies have improved their diversity and inclusion (D&I) results over time, UK organizations haven’t shown the same commitment: 47 of them still have no BAME at board and executive director level.

Moreover, the study found that it is more difficult for BAME senior company members to progress into executive roles than it is for their white peers.

But there’s a silver lining: BAME entrepreneurs all over the country have already mobilized to champion and improve diversity and inclusion across industries.

Here at TopMBA, we had the opportunity to speak to five of them to learn more about what inspires them and how they’re changing the game.

Rashida Abdulai

Rashida has extensive experience in law and D&I, having worked at top law firms and founded diversity networks to increase representation in the workplace.

Nevertheless, despite many successful professional achievements, Rashida felt the need to do something more meaningful with her skills.

That is when she funded Strand Sahara – an online legal platform that provides African entrepreneurs with world-class and affordable legal services.

“I was driven by a strong conviction that I was on the right path and solving a problem that I was uniquely positioned to tackle,” she said.

Through her work to improve inclusion and empowerment in the workforce, Rashida realized that the lack of diversity and unconscious bias creates a disconnect between company leaders and employees from minority backgrounds– something she hopes to tackle by empowering the latter.

She said: “I would love to see more policies directed at levelling this in all aspects of the work environment to ensure that everyone is rewarded on merit alone, from the application process through to work allocation and promotion.”

Nimisha Brahmbhatt

Nimisha is an award-winning management consultant, investor and entrepreneur with a flair for innovation. She began her career at Accenture and throughout the years consulted for many FTSE100 and Fortune 500 companies including SSE, Shell and Centrica.

In 2018, she funded her very own business school, The Legacy Business School, and invests the profits into advancing technologies in healthcare, conservation and Energy Management.

While Nimisha’s achievements are extremely impressive, getting her foot in the door wasn’t easy.

“The ultimate challenge for women of color is being a trifecta – you’re a woman, you’re of color and you’re in a STEM environment,” she said. “The first challenge when you walk in there is to fight misconceptions and prejudice.”

By proving her expertise and solving problems, Nimisha managed to make a name for herself and redirect the narrative towards her work.

She said: “It’s our [people of color] responsibility to be in that room and have a gentle approach. We’re talking about changing a person’s psychology, which is challenging as it is!”

“We need to realize that by being there we already have a certain level of influence. We need to remember that this is a chance to champion our peers.”

Jay Richards

Jay Richards is a Forbes 30under30 entrepreneur and the Founder of DivInc, a London-based marketing agency that helps Gen Zers from underrepresented backgrounds utilize their talent to help brands get honest insights into their strategies and products.

Jay and his Co-Founder had to “fight tooth and nail” to find the right investors to back their vision, but eventually managed to build DivInc’s diverse and innovative network.

He said: “Those of us from underestimated backgrounds, such as women or those from a low income or ethnic minority background, know how to graft.

“If you bring an underestimated person in as an employee you will get someone that knows what it's like to have to prove themselves and to not have anything given to them.”

In the future, Jay hopes to continue bringing talented and underrepresented young people into the workforce.

Jay added: “Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity isn’t.

“I've met some insanely talented young people who just want to graft and make their own path in the world. I am forever inspired by them.”

Tunde Banjoko OBE

Tunde Banjoko OBE always had a passion for changing lives.

His desire to improve social mobility in the UK pushed him to found Making the Leap, a London-based charity that trains young people to raise their aspirations and develop skills, behaviors and attitudes to succeed in a career.

He said: “I’m motivated by helping people, it’s just what gets me out of bed in the morning. I consider myself lucky to have been able to make that my living because I would, and do, do it for free.

“I see my younger self in those we help, working class and/or from a minority community, and it makes it personal.”

To help businesses understand the steps they must take to drive change, Tunde also started the Social Mobility podcast and the UK Social Mobility Awards, which recognize the organizations that actively champion D&I.

Tunde said: “I think it would be wonderful if every large and medium-sized organization embedded diversity and inclusion within its culture. 30 years after first doing so, I can still walk into a City office and the only other black guy wearing a suit would be at security. That’s a real shame.

“There are so many benefits to diversity for employers, but you have to make those that you employed included.

Ceylan Boyce

After 15 years spent resolving corporate issues, Ceylan Boyce decided to create her own inclusive network of like-minded entrepreneurs: The Academy of Women Entrepreneurs.

She said: “I worked in a field where it looked like it was diverse in the team but as soon as you moved up the ladder towards board level, it was dominated by white 50+ male directors.

“The thing is, I love working with business owners. I genuinely believe in the impact of these enterprises in growing local economies. So, I decided to work with them.”

Launched in early 2020, the platform offers innovative and affordable business training, coaching and collaboration tools designed specifically for female micro business owners, individual practitioners, freelancers and solopreneurs.

Ceylan hopes to help women entrepreneurs build stronger business acumen and find a space where they can develop their skills and receive adequate support.

She said: “Diversity makes business sense. There needs to be equal representation, full stop, for women of any background, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation."

 

 

 

Written by Linda Mohamed

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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