There’s a pandemic of racism. That’s the view not only of Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who recently declared racism to be “a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions” but also of Global DE&I Strategist Torin Ellis – who helped kick-off season two of Inside your Brand with Get-Optimal.com at the start of this month.
Racism is a scourge in society “that didn’t start with Donald Trump, he just amplified it,” Ellis told Daniel Fellows, the host of Inside your Brand and founder of Get-Optimal – a UK based global technology company and diversity and inclusion provider whose core product is job ad optimisation.
The leading diversity strategist described life as a black man dealing with racism on a daily basis as “like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you get tired, you quit when the gorilla gets tired.
“So long as I am in the ring with this gorilla of racism, I can’t throw in the towel. It’s continuing to come at me.”
Despite the fact that it has been repeatedly proven that diverse workforces perform better, many organisations have made little progress with DE&I initiatives and Ellis challenged companies to change the narrative around diversity and inclusion – pointing out that for too long, workplaces have championed complacency.
To help organisations and their HR leaders get DE&I efforts moving in the right direction, the Baltimore-based diversity strategist offered three strategies.
Ellis said: “If you genuinely want to be a diverse organisation, first employees need to feel empowered. They have to be able to speak up and say ‘we’re lacking representation and we need to change that.’”
“Secondly, you have to have strategic exploration. I believe that if you are recruiting for a business in hyper-growth that your DE&I strategy is going to look different from the strategy for a mature organisation. [...] As a recruiter, you must find out what stage of the business this team is in, this department is in, this company is in… Then link them all together and allow it to influence how you curate your strategy for going after talent.”
He continued: “Thirdly, there’s tactical execution. What domain knowledge do I have, what resources do I have access to and what might I be missing based on the strategy I am putting forth.”
Ellis also urged white employees to acknowledge that white privilege – a phrase to describe the “unearned rights and benefits afforded white people in Western society because of the colour of their skin” that was first coined by American feminist and anti-racism activist, Peggy McIntosh, in 1988 – does exist and that the best way to use their privilege to impact change is by listening.
“Part of the learning process is being quiet and not being fragile to emotions. Part of the journey is just learning to listen and understand,” shared Ellis.
Inside your Brand’s host, Daniel Fellows acknowledged that – following the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests – society is finally waking up to the systemic and institutional racism that exists in our places of work.
He said: “This is an incredible moment in history to finally do the right thing in the workplace.”
Catch the next episode of season two of Inside your brand over on Get-Optimal’s YouTube channel. Consisting of 25 weekly episodes, season two is focusing on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I) and Accessibility in the 360-degree sourcing, hiring and onboarding process.
Other topics to be touched upon include the impact of Artificial Intelligence, the role of technology in recruitment and selection – and the challenges and changes companies face when it comes to hiring in a post-pandemic world.
Guests include Joanne Lockwood – the founder and CEO of SEE Change Happen, an Equality Diversity & Inclusion practice specialising in providing transgender awareness and support to organisations and businesses – and Salma El-Wardany, a writer, poet, speaker and BBC radio presenter shining a spotlight on marginalised voices.