9 Points of reflection since starting CandidateX

Nine points/experiences that has surprised me since launching CandidateX circa eighteen months ago. We need to fully understand the landscape and keep it real to achieve positive change.

1.    D&I driven initiatives and relationship building - CandidateX’s mission is to accelerate equality…I thought this was compelling and mutually accepted by most people. Growing and strengthening relationships should be relatively simple right? Wrong! What a business promotes via social media or through content does not always correlate with being genuine (Hi Fintechs, challenger banks????????)

2.    HR Directors/teams – I assumed based on discussions prior to starting CandidateX that these professionals would be flag bearers. Whilst I have engaged with a few genuine professionals within this specialism, the number who have been silent has been astonishing. Yes, I know, everyone is really, really, really busy ????

3.    Senior leaders – D&I is on the agenda but understanding what it means, remains a struggle. Not many want to admit this and as such try to find quick fixes. Unfortunately, driving diversity and inclusion is not an overnight fix, it is a long road which requires full engagement throughout a business. Being accountable and ensuring you have an inclusive culture is key to progression. Put a plan in place and be transparent. Diversity is being invited to the table; inclusion is having the opportunity to speak once there.

4.    Investors – well if you don’t fit the narrative then they are not interested, full stop⛔️. Bizarrely, this is where I see more exclusion than inclusion. If you are not the right ethnicity, gender etc, then it is unlikely you will get an audience. 

5.    Family, friends, ex-colleagues – this has been a harsh lesson and bitter pill to swallow ????. I naturally thought that primary support for what I am trying to achieve with CandidateX would come from these networks. Instead, I have learned who within this network are there to support. A silver lining, I suppose. I am much wiser now ❤️.

6.    Young individuals & education – we are severely lacking in this regard. Schools, teachers, pupils all require support in learning more about differences I.e., culture, sexualities etc. Unfortunately, this is not happening. Guess what, if we don’t educate the youth, their views/biases will be influenced by what they see on social media, parents etc, which in some cases can lead to racist or discriminatory views…this then enters the workplace, and the cycle continues. The private sector needs to get more involved. It will benefit us all and CandidateX will be driving to support these young individuals ????

7.    Key D&I influencers/specialists – I call some of these the ‘look at me’ brigade. I initially thought many of these individuals who appeared highly decorated and recognised, held the key to progression within D&I. These individuals were the pioneers who potentially risked their professional careers to lead and drive changes for all of us. However, through efforts of engagement and monitoring, I found a worrying percentage of this population focused on one thing, ‘self-promotion’. You only see or hear from them when they are nominated for an award etc. Many organisations and businesses utilise the profiles of these individuals to highlight how well they are doing within D&I without really understanding their motivation, values etc…this I call ‘brand association’ strategy. Again, another tick box and lack of time/resource investment to fully ascertain if these individuals are genuine and role models to others. Dare I say, how government members are utilising Priti Patel ????

8.    Diversity and Inclusion is like a fashion parade – instead of putting a plan in place to drive D&I initiatives throughout the year, businesses allocate awareness days or months and then forget about them until the following year. It feels like all D&I groups are in a room trying to shout the loudest until they are heard and allocated a slot within the PR plan for that specific year. D&I should not be treated like an auction or a draft pick!

9.    I do not fit the D&I profile – shortly after the unfortunate events in the US last year, I quickly found out that my name and appearance did not fit the ethnicity requirements for a business to engage with me. Amazing how we still judge an individual’s credentials based on appearance…enter CandidateX! Let’s get one thing straight, we are all human and as such biased in one way or the other. Ethnicity, how you identify yourself, if you have a disability etc does not exempt you from being racist or discriminatory. I have been amazed to learn how many businesses and individuals have failed to grasp this. Instead, judge someone on how genuine they are, skill sets, values, knowledge, and experience…you might just see the progress you are seeking, and it’s called being inclusive

It has been a steep learning curve and harsh at times, but I am personally driven everyday by helping to build a more inclusive world for my children. CandidateX is driving to achieve this, and I am excited to be on this journey. With the partnerships we are establishing (globally), a growing community and the products and services we are developing, I believe we can achieve our mission and ensure the points listed above, become less and less.

I will continue to share the realism within D&I as I see it ????????

By Sunil Dial