Marcus Sawyerr – the founder & CEO of EQ Community, a private members community cultivating connections, community, and careers for multicultural professionals interested in tech – was season two, episode 18 of IYB's special guest.
The entrepreneur swapped London for Oakland, California, three years ago – a period of time that, as host, Dan acknowledged, has been full of watershed moments from Donald Trump’s rise and fall to the brutal murder of George Floyd which sparked the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement.
Marcus concurred but pointed out that “really I was just acclimatising to moving to a new country generally. Understanding what the new normal is, is quite hard to depict when moving somewhere new. It’s a very different landscape to the UK – each state is like its own country. I am learning a lot more about how the US has been operating from a systemic standpoint for some time now”.
It’s an experience and insight that has spurred on his work with EQ Community. “We’re focused on really empowering people of colour to thrive. That’s our purpose,” explained Marcus. “I’ve spent the majority of my time in the recruitment business, be it in HR tech or ar Adecco where I was global head of digital, and I saw an opportunity.
“I thought where do my experience and expertise lie and what am I passionate about? I want to help people who look like me get opportunities. I then found firms who wanted to do something [around DE&I] but didn’t know where to start and that gave me the impetus to start EQ Community,” shared Marcus.
Inside Your Brand’s host, Dan was curious to know what kind of clients EQ Community has attracted to date.
“We haven’t made an outbound call yet for clients. A lot has been based on networks – typically within tech organisations,” revealed Marcus. “Generally, we look at fast-growing companies that can provide an opportunity for people of colour to grow within the organisation or be at the top seats really quickly – so thats companies that have made a DE&I pledge.
“We’re not pushing on any closed doors right now. We’re walking through open doors and working with companies who genuinely want to do something for the long term and add value to their organisation. We’re very much focused on companies who have made a start already because there are enough of them! They are the organisations and leaders who genuinely see having an inclusive business and leveraging diversity as an offensive strategy that will dramatically improve how you do business.”
Host Dan wrapped up the episode by asking EQ Community’s founder and CEO if he was optimistic for the future?
Marcus replied: “I have to be optimistic. I see people and businesses who want to make and drive change. The key factor is to continue and drive momentum. I am optimistic about the door I see open. The moment and time are now.”
He signed off with a caveat: “If you don’t have a diverse business, you’re going to be closer to deathbed than you think.”
Catch episode 17 of season two of Inside your Brand over on Get-Optimal’s YouTube channel.