October 24, 2021

Building a diverse and inclusive workforce is no longer a nice-to-have but a core component of any talent acquisition strategy. We spoke to Rachel Gnagniko, the founder of Amioka an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion consultancy for arts and creative industries about prioritising diversity, equity, and inclusion to help navigate the uncertainty of 2021

Global diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I) awareness is at an all-time high, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, and companies and organisations are ramping up their efforts.

It isn’t easy. DE&I is hard work – you are, after all, tackling systemic issues that have been in place for generations – but your starting point can be simple: Speak to a DE&I professional who is ready and willing to help.

Enter Rachel Gnagniko – a Liverpool-based, French-Togolese Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion specialist on a mission to drive DE&I.  

Rachel – who has 15 years of experience in inclusion and social change in both France and the UK under her belt – studied labour and organisational sciences at the Conservatoire National Des Arts Et Métiers, has a Master’s in communication strategy from the European Communication School, and specialised in diversity management practices at the Chartered Management Institute before founding Amiokaa, an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion consultancy for arts and creative industries.

Amioka’s CEO utilises her experience and knowledge around the issue to conduct focus groups, policy writing, and workshops for companies including Inc Arts UK – the nation-wide collective that champions the creative, contractual, and economic rights of the UK's African, Asian, Caribbean, and ethnically diverse arts sector workforce, to enhance their creative case for diversity.

As if that wasn’t enough, Rachel serves as a trustee for the Liverpool Guild of Students, advising elected students on how to make their campus more accessible and inclusive.

Well-spoken but straight-talking, Rachel told Optimal: “The world has changed. We must meet the moment and make organisations up and down the country more diverse, equitable, and inclusive places. Both the moral and business cases are there and individuals and organisations alike benefit from strength in difference.”

While the French native is pleased that 2020 brought a renewed focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and that “in the UK we can talk openly about race unlike in France”, she is keen to ensure that companies take meaningful, forward-thinking action and don’t just “check the box which will get you nowhere.”

DE&I aside, Rachel is a passionate advocate for foster care and the difference that carers can make to the lives of young people, and has discovered the joy of tea. “Tea is such a serious business in the UK,” she laughed.

Rachel’s real passion, however, is for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) which stems from her lived experience as a black woman. To this end, Rachel is working on The Inclusivity Playbook designed to help develop a workplace culture that supports diversity and inclusion.

Her key piece of advice for all organisations to remember when it comes to DE&I? “Just start,” said Rachel. “The rest will follow.”

Image credits: Amiokaa