Tag Archives: diversity

‘Reech for the Balls’ charity bowling event returns to Shropshire for a second year to support Lingen Davies Cancer Fund

Reech, a leading full-service marketing agency in Shropshire, has announced the return of its highly anticipated charity fundraiser event, ‘Reech for the Balls’.

Following the success of its inaugural year in 2022, the event is back, aiming to raise vital funds for the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund, a local charity dedicated to enhancing cancer services and improving lives in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid-Wales.

Taking place on Thursday 2nd May between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM, Reech for the Balls invites Shropshire businesses to participate in an exciting bowling competition at the newly renovated Telford Tenpin. The event not only fosters friendly competition between Shropshire businesses but also raises awareness about testicular and prostate cancer, highlighting the importance of early detection and treatment.

Teams of between four and six people can register to compete in the bowling tournament, offering businesses the opportunity for team-building, networking and fundraising in one night. The top five teams will advance to a final round to compete for the iconic first-place trophy, aiming to claim the title from last year’s champions, Salop Leisure.

Helen Knight, head of fundraising for Lingen Davies, said: “Thank you to Reech for organising this fun and novel fundraising initiative.

“People often think you have to take on really physical challenges to fundraise. An event like this is brilliant because anyone can take part.

“Groups of friends or colleagues can enjoy an evening out together, have a great time, and help raise funds for those impacted by cancer in our region.

 “Thanks to the team at Reech and those taking part for supporting Lingen Davies in this way.”


Faye Hudson, growth strategist at Reech, said: “We are delighted to bring back Reech for the Balls for a second year,

“This event not only promotes connections and community spirit among Shropshire businesses but also contributes to the invaluable work of Lingen Davies Cancer Fund in our local community.”

Individuals and businesses interested in participating can sign up on the Reech website www.reech.agency/reech-for-the-balls. Registration is open now, and spaces are limited to 24 teams, so early sign-up is encouraged to secure a spot.

Britain’s most inspiring women in business crowned at national awards

The business women leading the way in their industries have been named in the second annual Great British Businesswoman Awards.

The programme launched in 2021 to recognise the growing number of trailblazing women in business leadership and entrepreneurship, champion their peers and advocates, and inspire the next generation of businesswomen.

In 2021, over 140,000 female-founded companies were established, a figure that is growing by a third every year, and the number of women in leadership positions in FTSE 100 companies increased to 32.5%, from 30.6% in 2020. It’s thought that this increase in representation of women in business could unlock a huge amount of economic potential, especially as the trajectory continues.

The final took place at De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London as the awards was held in person for the first time, after coronavirus meant the first ever ceremony was held online.

The overall Great British Businesswoman of the Year was awarded to Beth Knight, Amazon in the Community Leader for Europe, whose work surrounds building a better working world for women.

From helping women and girls to advance their careers in technology with programs like Amazon Future Engineer, to overseeing large-scale philanthropy initiatives for refugees fleeing the current crisis in the Ukraine, Beth has been highly commended for the work she has undertaken so far in her career.

The programme was founded by the team behind the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2021, who had been blown away by the increasing volume and quality of applications to the prestigious awards series by women in previous years.

The winners were selected by a panel of expert judges from companies including Burberry, easyJet, WarnerMedia, Cabinet Office, Greggs and Heathrow Airport, who all have their own vast experience working within diversity and inclusion.

The Great British Businesswoman Awards were founded by Francesca James, who said that the showcased winners would play an important role in inspiring others: “It has been a great honour to highlight the commendable stories of the winners, not only because they thoroughly deserve to be applauded for their tenacity and leadership, but because the value of positive female role models and male allies in business cannot be underestimated.

“Statistics show that the participation of women in business is on the rise, but we want to play a part in ensuring this continues by shining a light on the stories that will instil confidence in the next generation and make certain that no stories of success go unnoticed.

“Congratulations to our fantastic winners, not only for your awards, but for the important work you are doing to lead and innovate your industries.”

Full list of winners:

Banking & Finance Businesswoman of the Year: Natasha Frangos, Partner, Head of Corporate, Haysmacintyre LLP

Construction Businesswoman of the Year: Gauri Talathi-Lamb, Co-Founder, Iolas Capital

Consumer Goods Businesswoman of the Year: Martha Keith, Founder & CEO, Martha Brook

Creative Industries Businesswoman of the Year: Lucy McCarraher, Founder, Rethink Press

Engineering & Manufacturing Businesswoman of the Year: Samidha Anand, Engineering Manager, Caterpillar

Entrepreneurial Businesswoman of the Year: Lizzie Carter, Founder, Only Curls Ltd

Food & Drink Businesswoman of the Year: Joyce De Hass & Raissa De Hass, Co-Founders, Double Dutch Drinks

Social Enterprise Businesswoman of the Year: Emily Aklan, CEO, Serenity Welfare

Technology Businesswoman of the Year: Collette Allen, Chief Operating Officer, SmartSearch

Telecoms Businesswoman of the Year: Tejal Maniar, CEO, BT OnePhone Ltd

Transport & Logistics Businesswoman of the Year: Nancy Hobhouse, Head of ESG ,Evri

Utilities Businesswoman of the Year: Lisa Waterhouse, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, National Grid

Young Businesswoman of the Year: Laura Cooper-Jackson, Director, Industrial Signs Group

Rising Star Award: Krystle McGilvery, Founder, Mind Over Money

Gamechanger in Sport Award: Charlene Gravesande, Assistant Producer, Sky UK Limited

Team of the Year Award: PUMA UK&I

Role Model of the Year Award: Lucile Kamar, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, ITN

Diversity Award: OLIVER

Male Advocate of the Year Award: Conor Whelan, Chief Information Officer, Experian PLC

Female Ambassador of the Year: Beth Knight, Amazon in the Community Leader, Europe, Amazon

Great British Businesswoman of the Year : Beth Knight, Amazon in the Community Leader, Europe, Amazon

A Failure To Consider Language Diversity In EDI Provision Causes Problems For Multinational Firms

Multinational companies are struggling to effectively produce and embed effective equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) focused agendas, according to research from Durham University Business School.

Despite operating on a global basis and pulling in a workforce that spans multiple continents, cultures and languages, multinational companies are often disappointed with the progress they make with regards to EDI management.

According to research by Martyna Śliwa of Durham University Business School, Sylwia Ciuk of Oxford Brookes University, and Anne-Wil Harzing of Middlesex University, the difficulty often stems from having too narrow a focus when it comes to what matters in EDI provision.

Martyna Śliwa says,

“Multinational companies recognise the importance of the EDI agenda, but often struggle to implement it and leverage its strategic potential. Often, their focus lies on a small range of diversity and dimensions which fail to include other important factors, such as language.”

A lack of attention to the management of linguistic diversity is revealed to be of particular concern. Even though language based stereotyping and discrimination are recognised barriers to work and career outcomes for minority individuals and groups, the researchers say too little focus is paid to fostering linguistic diversity and inclusion in such organisations.

Their study seeks to address this by proposing a two-step framework for multinational companies to apply when creating and implementing their EDI agendas.

The first step seeks to change the way multinational companies think about diversity and differences.

Martyna Śliwa says,

“We need to stop viewing diversity and differences primarily in negative terms, or seeing them as challenges to overcome or work around. Instead, viewing diversity in a positive light, and differences as something fluid can allow us to act differently.”

To achieve such a shift, those leading teams or departments within multinational firms must recognise multiple languages and multi-lingual workers as a resource, and question the assumption that the non-dominant languages of the company are somehow inferior.

The second step concerns changing multinational companies’ actions.

Deliberate steps need to be taken to challenge expectations and norms that members of non-dominant groups – those who communicate at work in a foreign language – need to adjust to the dominant group’s way of communicating.

Sylwia Ciuk says,

“Displaying positive attitudes towards language differences and an openness to non-standard language norms, as well as adjusting the communicative behaviour of all members of the organisation are all small, but vital steps to enhance inclusion.”

Reciprocity is key here. Anne-Wil Harzing says,

“Successful interactions between those with different levels of fluency in the language of their interaction should not solely depend on the skills of non-dominant language users. Aside of putting additional pressure on such colleagues, there is a significant danger of miscommunications occurring.”

The framework proposed by the researchers brings considerable practical implications for those operating in human resource management. Though the study displays the framework as a means of linguistic diversity in particular, the researchers state the framework can be applied to any other area of the EDI discussion.

The study has been published, and is available to read via the Human Resource Management Journal.

Great British Businesswoman Awards 2022 finalists revealed

  • The most inspiring women in business have been shortlisted ahead of the Great British Businesswoman Awards Grand Final
  • The second annual awards ceremony will celebrate businesswomen in industries from tech to creative
  • Grand Final is to be held in London on November 29
The shortlist for the Great British Businesswoman Awards 2022 has been unveiled ahead of a Grand Final in November.
160 women in business have been named as finalists in the second annual awards in categories including Construction Businesswoman, Social Enterprise Businesswoman and Diversity Initiative of the Year. One of the winners will also be crowned the overall Great British Businesswoman of the Year, which was won last year by Unilever’s Leena Nair.
The programme launched last year to recognise the inspiring women innovating and leading the way in their respective industries. Despite this, statistics still show that there is still a long way to go before the number of women in top corporate jobs is equal to men.
Research has estimated that £250 billion could be injected into the UK economy if women were equally as prominent in leading businesses as men.* It’s hoped that the awards will play an active role in showcasing the importance of having more women in leading corporate positions and, ultimately, getting closer to realising that untapped potential.
The awards took place for the first time virtually last year, but the organisers are making the event bigger and better this year by holding it in-person at the De Vere Connaught Rooms in London.
It’s hoped that the live ceremony will offer guests the opportunity to connect with their fellow attendees, and ticket holders will also have access to a finalist networking conference in the daytime before the main prize-giving event.
Founded by the team behind the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, finalists and winners are also encouraged to remain engaged with the programme after the final as they are welcomed into a growing alumni network where previous award applicants can connect, learn and share ideas.
The finalists will be whittled down to 21 winners selected by a panel of expert judges spanning a wide range of industries and big name companies, from Greggs PLC Chief Executive Roisin Currie, to Easyjet Trading & RM Director Melissa Skluzacek.
Awards founder Francesca James said that the judges have a tough decision on their hands: “The standard of entries was fantastic and the breadth of talent and achievement demonstrated by the finalists is nothing short of inspirational. The finalists should be very proud to have been shortlisted out of so many worthy applicants, and I don’t envy the judges who now have the task of choosing the winners.
“Celebrating and supporting women in business is not just for other women – if we want to see more women leaders in business, it will be strong collaboration between us all that achieves it. We’ve created these awards to reflect that, with categories honouring male advocates, corporate initiatives and teams that are empowering business women and championing equality and diversity.
“Congratulations to all of our fantastic finalists – I look forward to finding out who our 2022 winners will be!”
The Grand Final of the Great British Businesswoman Awards 2022 will be held on 29th November 2022 at De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. Tickets are available at freshbusinessthinking.com/great-british-businesswoman-series/tickets.
Great British Businesswoman Awards 2022 Finalists: 
Banking and Finance Businesswoman sponsored by Global Processing Services 
• Dr Narisa Chauvidul-Aw, KogoPAY Group
• Roxana Mohammadian-Molina, Blend Network
• Natasha Frangos, Haysmacintyre LLP
• Rosie Lyon, Allied Irish Bank GB
• Liz Jackson MBE, BCMS
• Palak Tewary, Price Mann
• Katharine Wooller, Dacxi
• Chloe Mercer
• Private Markets Alpha Limited
Construction Businesswoman 
• Carol Massay, Access Group
• Sophia Graves, Real
• Louise Stewart, ProjectPay
• Roni Savage, Jomas Associates
• Leanne Coop, The Tiny Housing Co
• Kelly Cartwright, Core Recruiter Ltd
• Gauri Talathi-Lamb, Iolas Capital
• Mandy St John Davey, Mandy St John Davey
Consumer Goods Businesswoman 
• Greta McDonald, Sweet Lounge
• Emma Macdonald, The Tartan Blanket Co
• Martha Keith, Martha Brook
• Monika Ludwiczak, Everlasting Brows
• Bethan John, The British Blanket Company
• Amanda Mountain, Lola Design
• Emma Naumann, Cogito Talent Limited
• Mellanie Lykourina Struthers, Draught Drop
Creative Industries Businesswoman 
• Shannon Jennings, The Very Group
• Priya Downes, Nudea
• Chloe Baldwin & Abigail Baldwin, Buttercrumble
• Claire Menzies, Istoria Group Ltd.
• Debra Mayfield, DML Marketing
• Anna Kyriacou, The Zeros Art
• Sedge Beswick, SEEN Connects
• Lucy McCarraher, Rethink Press
Engineering & Manufacturing Businesswoman 
• Samidha Anand, Caterpillar
• Beverley Gibbs, NMITE
• Nathalie Sorde, CMR Surgical
• Dr Zoe Tolkien, Advanced Furnace Technology Ltd
• Lara Edison, Encirc
• Lana Harrison, Exterior Solutions Ltd
• Mandy Forster, AA Flags Limited
• Rachel Garrett, CMG Technologies
Entrepreneurial Businesswoman 
• Sharon Daly, Venture Life Group Plc
• Lizzie Carter, Only Curls Ltd
• Abi Selby, Spabreaks.com
• Emily Riddington, TechNET IT Recruitment
• Emma Bardwell, Bardwood Support Services
• Alice Hall, Rowen Homes
• Hannah Allen, Operatix
• Anita Dougall, Sagacity Solutions Ltd
Food & Drink Businesswoman 
• Joyce De Hass & Raissa De Hass, Double Dutch
• Krisi Smith, Bird & Blend Tea Co.
• Shakshi Chhabra Mittal, FoodHak
• Ellie Webb, Caleño Drinks
• Hannah Williams, Tiny Rebel
• Laura Belshaw, Musclefood
• Olivia Ferdi, TRIP CBD
• Nirali Buch Mankodi, Superfoodio
Social Enterprise Businesswoman
• Hannah Samano, Unfabled
• Alison Delaney, Little Bird People Development
• Melanie Vaxevanakis, The MAZI Project
• Toni Horn, Think Differently Coaching CIC
• Emily Aklan, Serenity Welfare
• Julie Hawker & Kate Doodson, Cosmic
• Marva Trenton, Lifelong Family Links
• Anisa Morridadi, Beatfreeks
Technology Businesswoman 
• Georgina Nelson, TruRating
• Laura Hutton, Quantexa
• Tanya Field, Novatiq
• Charu Bjuvestig, QA Talent
• Lesley Da Costa, Bendac
• Collette Allen, SmartSearch
• Deepti Velury, Tag Worldwide
• Sarah-Jayne van Greune, Payen Limited
Telecoms Businesswoman 
• Beverley Brookes, Spoke Interactive Limited
• Nektaria Efthymiou, BT
• Tejal Maniar, BT OnePhone Ltd
• Amanda Jobbins, Vodafone
• Jeanie York, Virgin Media O2
• Claire Harvey MBE, Vodafone
• Gill Cooke, Three UK
• Rebecca Armstrong, Talk Talk
Transport & Logistics Businesswoman 
• Sarah Taylor-Jones, Evri
• Fiona Smith, AGS Airports Ltd
• Lorna McAtear, National Grid
• Ginny Buckley, Electrifying.com
• Nancy Hobhouse, Evri
• Caroline Green MBE, Pallet-Track Ltd
• Rachel Houghton, Business Moves Group
• Katie McIntyre, Adverttu
Utilities Businesswoman 
• Lisa Waterhouse, National Grid
• Charlotte Swift, British Gas
• Sharna Matson, Cadent Gas Limited
• Lynne Higgins, Octopus Energy
• Marianne Moberg, Utility Warehouse
• Jacqueline O’Donovan, O’Donovan Waste Disposal Ltd
• Vicky Kelsall, Scottish Power
• Katie Jackson, Shell UK
Young Businesswoman sponsored by EMCOR UK 
• Rachel Thomas, The THOMAS Recruitment Group
• Jade Cohen & Brittany Harris, Qualis Flow
• Laura Cooper-Jackson, Industrial Signs Group
• Chiara Macarti Speranza, Google
• Lucie Rowley, Evri
• Natalie Porter, Happy Plants
• Lissele Pratt, Capitalixe
• Millie Goodwin, With Love Cosmetics LTD
• Nipuni Karunaratne, IVY TECH Ltd
• Megan Gamble, Hashtag Me
Diversity Initiative of the Year Award 
• Lucile Kamar, ITN
• Tasneem Bhopalwala, Oxford University Press
• Christopher Sumner-Smith, Charu Bjuvestig, Hannah McDougall, Christina El-Hawi and Kieran Prout, Qa LTd
• Carol Poloni, Amina Folarin, Sagina Shabaya, Vijay Chohan, Theresa Sarbeng, Melanie O’Hagan and Jerome Ntumba, OLIVER
• Nadia Edwards-Dashti, Harrington Starr
• Nadine Campbell, ACE Entrepreneurs
• Charlene Brown, Howlett Brown
• Jodie Greer, Be #PeopleSmart LTd
Female Ambassador of the Year Award 
• Fran Pestana, E.ON
• Nikki Ross, Thames Valley Partnership
• Beth Knight, Amazon
• Chloe Foster, Valorum Care Group
• Angela De Souza, Women’s Business Club
• Patricia Phillips, Panasonic
• Ruby Sweeney, The Events Hub
• Tracey Secker, The Haven Wolverhampton
Gamechanger in Sport Award 
• Jess Roper, I am Fighting Fit
• Katie James, bpsorty Ltd
• Yvette Curtis, Waves Wahines CIC
• Charlene Gravesande, Sky UK Limited
Male Advocate of the Year Award 
• Conor Whelan, Experian PLC
• Richard Port MBE, George Green LLP
• Matthew Read, Volume99
• Seb York, CatSci Ltd
• Ian Boyd, Trekstock
• Simon Martin, OLIVER
• Lee Proctor-Wright, Encric
• Daniele Fiandaca, Token Man Consulting
Rising Star Award 
• Janani Prasad, Minority Supplier Development UK
• Lauren Williams, gemsatwork Ltd
• Joan Tolentino, Infoteam International Limited
• Krystle McGilvery, Mind Over Money
• Giulia Pedretti, Arteak Limited
• Louise Blisset, Inception Consultants Ltd
• Lisa Dukes, Dukes & King
• Lucie Grech, The Laser Lounge Enterprise Limited
Role Model of the Year Award sponsored by Moody’s 
• Lucile Kamar, ITN
• Raqual Amador Quintanilla, Bango
• Sadie Restorick, Wellity Global
• Emma-Jane Taylor-Moran, Rebel Law Ltd
• Georgina Moseley, Help Harry Help Others Cancer Support Charity
• Melyni Bronson, Masterclassing Ltd
• Claire Russell, Mental Health in Business
• Mahira Kalim, Spruce
Team of the Year Award 
• Bendac Group
• Criteo
• Independent Schools Examination Board
• Mount Street
• Pallet-Track
• Your Space Property Group
• Noble Events
• Lendology CIC

31% of UK and European Female Directors hold Board Seats But, Diligent Research Reveals Massive Gaps Remain

While progress has been made in driving gender diversity on corporate boards, there are still massive gaps in how diversity is defined and represented on boards around the world, according to Diligent, the global leader in modern governance providing SaaS solutions across governance, risk, compliance, audit and ESG.

New research shows that boardroom diversity by race, ethnicity, age, and LGBTQ+ representation lags significantly behind gender diversity globally. Female directors hold approximately 29% of board seats in continental Europe. When including companies in the U.K, this increases the average to 31%, in both cases beating the global average of 27% with a 4-percentage-point increase since 2019.

The inaugural Board Diversity Gaps: The Global Modern Leadership Report is the first ever global analysis of several major dimensions of boardroom diversity including gender, race/ethnicity and nationality, skillset, and LGBTQ+ representation. Produced by Diligent, in collaboration with 22 partnering organizations around the world, the report provides a first-of-its-kind holistic view into the progression of diversity and inclusion on public and private boards worldwide. The U.K is currently the only country in Europe requiring listed companies to include at least one director from an underrepresented ethnic or racial group. In large part due to laws and quotas, Europe as a region leads the world in terms of boardroom gender diversity — despite regional variations from country to country.

“Diversity has risen up the boardroom agenda as organizations face increasing pressure to better reflect the diversity of their customer bases and communities, but progress has been slow and there are still many gaps when it comes to reporting on race, ethnicity and LGBTQ+ representation on boards,” said Lisa Edwards, President, and COO of Diligent and board director at Colgate-Palmolive. “This report provides new, critical insights into how boardrooms worldwide are progressing against diversity goals and where there is still much work to be done.”

Among the top findings of the Modern Leadership Report:

  • Diversity by directors’ nationality, race, and ethnicity lags gender diversity globally, with the majority of analyzed countries not disclosing the ethnicity of each of the directors on the board. The percentage of S&P 500 directors from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups is only 22% and has not increased since 2021. Meanwhile, the percentages for Fortune 100 and 500 boards are 17.5% and 20.6% respectively as of 2020, and 24% for the Russell 3000 as of June 2022.


  • Director appointments are far from gender parity. Only 36% of director appointments through May 2022 were female, on pace with the average for all of 2021. Female directors currently hold approximately 27% of public company board seats, up from 26% in 2021 and a four-percentage point increase from 2019.


  • Female directors in Europe trend younger than their male counterparts and have shorter tenures. The average age of female directors is roughly four years younger than their male counterparts, at 60 and 63.5 respectively. Female directors also have shorter tenures than their male counterparts at 4.7 years compared with 7.6.


  • The issue of LGBTQ+ representation is significantly behind other elements of boardroom diversity, with the U.S. being the only region analyzed that provides this data. Members of the LGBTQ+ community hold only 0.5% of board seats in the Fortune 500. Currently, the collection and disclosure of board race/ethnicity and LGBTQ+ representation data is non-existent in continental.


  • New expertise types are being added to the boardroom, with 35% of newly appointed board directors bringing skillset backgrounds in areas like technology, marketing, sales, HR, ESG and legal in 2022. 7% of female directors in the UK have technology expertise compared to 4% of male directors, the highest percentage of female board members is in the communications sector at 33%, while the energy sector has the lowest level of female representation at 25%.


  • All-Male Boards Persist for Private Companies. In a review of 228 private growth-stage companies, Diligent found 58% have all-male-boards, compared with only 6% of publicly traded companies. Women hold approximately 11% of board seats on these private companies compared to 27% in public companies.


“The global picture of boardroom diversity today is varied and full of gaps, but what’s overwhelmingly clear is that gender diversity is the primary focus for boards around the world. Board diversity regarding race, ethnicity, age, and LGBTQ+ representation fall woefully behind,” said Dottie Schindlinger, Executive Director of the Diligent Institute. “By better understanding the state of boardroom diversity across the globe, we’re able to increase the odds that corporate leadership opportunities will be made available to underrepresented groups.”


Like many organizations in recent years, Diligent has made concerted efforts to better understand and advocate for boardroom diversity. In 2020 Diligent launched Modern Leadership, an initiative to provide boards and senior leaders with the research, insights, partnerships and technology they need to further catalyse diversity in their organizations. This includes the Diligent Director Network — the largest and most diverse community of board-ready executives globally.

Unreasonable exceeds tough diversity goal, annual report reveals

More than half the members of invite-only Unreasonable Collective are women and people of colour, previously under-represented among investors

51% of Collective members identify as women or people of colour

70% of CEOs and co-founders of Collective portcos are women/people of colour

100% of the Collective Team is made up of women/people of colour

LONDON, 21st April 2022 – Unreasonable Group has revealed it has hit its ambitious 50% diversity target in just one year. Now 51% of its Unreasonable Collective members are women or people of colour, the company announced in its annual report, released today

Last year, Unreasonable made a commitment to give under-represented groups in investment a seat at the table – and that includes women, people of colour and those who identify as LGBTQ+.

“Inclusivity is at the heart of everything we do, when we’re looking at potential members or companies to invest in, which is why we ended up with these great stats,” says Pratibha Vuppuluri, Head of Investments, and Partner, Collective, Unreasonable Group.

The impact of having diverse investors – whether that’s in terms of gender, ethnicity or geography – has already been felt, with valuable new perspectives being brought to The Collective.

And the shift doesn’t stop there. Diversity filters through to investment decisions, too. One of the Unreasonable Collective’s first investments was Air Protein, the pioneering product that aims to feed the world’s growing population sustainably, founded by Dr Lisa Dyson. And climate technology startup BlocPower, founded by Donnel Baird, is helping disadvantaged communities in New York save on their energy costs.

“When it comes to capital channelled to diverse and under-represented founders, that is where the biggest gap lies. Most of the money in Silicon Valley goes to white, male founders. We’re here to disrupt that,” says Vuppuluri.

The achievement is particularly impressive because 2020 saw women lose ground in the investment space when funding to female-led and mixed-gender founding teams dropped to just 14%.

“Our focus on diversity is ongoing. It’s something I haven’t seen much of in the venture world, but Unreasonable’s community-driven model opens up new opportunities for women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ investors. We offer pre-vetted deals at Series A stage and if someone wants to make an investment they can go and visit the business and ask the CEO questions. That’s so important because people are looking to put their money in companies that have a positive impact on the world,” added Vuppuluri.

And Unreasonable Collective’s investments all have a positive impact, from innovative and sustainable design and manufacturing company Plant Prefab to Goodr, the diverse, female-owned company leveraging blockchain technology to reduce food waste and combat hunger.

Disability inequity at work: 22% of business leaders unlikely to hire candidates with known disabilities

PageGroup, global recruitment specialist, today releases a study which shines a light on the wide range of perceived barriers facing disabled individuals in the world of work. The findings reveal how far UK businesses still have to go to level the playing field for disabled candidates.

According to Parliamentary Briefing Papers on Disability Equality in the Workplace, 8.4 million[i] people in the UK are disabled and of working age, yet only 4.4 million are in employment. During a period of candidate shortages across multiple sectors, PageGroup polled 1,000 business leaders to understand the obstacles their business faces when looking to hire disabled candidates.

The findings suggest the top five common barriers business leaders face are:


  1. Having the right internal support in place to accommodate the needs of disabled staff members – 23%
  2. The cost of modifying equipment / technology for disabled employees – 23%
  3. Concerns around legal proceedings if disabled hires don’t work out – 20%
  4. Additional resource commitment to onboard disabled workers – 20%
  5. A perception that disabled people may lack the right skills – 20%


Steve Ingham, CEO of PageGroup said: “During a time of national skills shortages it is extremely disappointing that businesses are not broadening their talent pools to include disabled candidates as they search for applicants to fill the gaps in their organisations. The disabled community has so much potential and untapped talent to offer the workplace. I am confident that many of the disabled individuals I have met are capable of fulfilling the jobs of ‘able-bodied’ workers and in many instances would far exceed the expectations of business leaders and HR managers. As a disabled person in a wheelchair myself, I have seen firsthand the hidden workforce that the disabled community represents and recognise the critical need for businesses to find ways to appeal to this community more and understand the strengths they offer.”

Despite the range of perceived barriers, many businesses are making steps to enhance hiring processes for all demographics, which suggests that becoming more inclusive is a business priority for leadership. In the last year over a third (35%) of companies have offered inclusivity training to all interviewers of potential candidates, and 34% have altered the language in job adverts to remove gender biased language. However, there is a drop off when considering policies which directly benefit the disabled community searching for employment. Only a quarter (27%) have introduced tailored job adverts for people with sight difficulties or adopted ‘text to speech apps’. Furthermore, only 13% have hired a specialist recruiter that can advertise a role to underrepresented communities, such as disabled people.

PageGroup is striving to do more to help businesses. Its Diversity & Inclusion services include online content, interactive inclusivity workshops, Diversity & Inclusion Fitness Assessment and Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Development. PageGroup is also committed to promoting learning and development regarding unconscious bias and inclusion.

Ingham continued: “I am proud to announce today that PageGroup has launched a new D&I Solutions team to help bridge the gap between businesses, disability charities and disabled candidates. This team will address many of the perceived obstacles that business leaders identified in our research and will build partnerships to match talented disabled individuals with future employers.”

“I am also delighted to announce the hire of Ollie Thorn, PageGroup’s new Client D&I Manager, who will run the team entirely made up of employees from under-represented communities.”

Ollie Thorn, PageGroup’s new Client D&I Manager said: “Our research highlights a huge awareness challenge that disabled people must overcome to obtain employment in the UK. The truth is, I recognise how I am one of the luckier members of this underrepresented community in the workforce. However, there are many like me who have not had the same opportunities to find work. The team I am leading are committed to unlocking the hidden talent within the disabled community and providing a meaningful difference to the lives of millions of people. We cannot solve disability inequality in the workplace alone, so I urge businesses to get in touch so we can help educate them as they navigate their D&I strategies.

Caroline Casey of the Valuable 500 has also commented:

At a time of the “Great Resignation” and employers searching for talent, PageGroup‘s research highlights the huge opportunity that companies getting inclusion right enjoy – and the need for businesses to improve disability inequity in the workplace at all levels. 18 percent of the U.K. population have a disability – they also have huge talent. The Valuable 500 is striving to fundamentally transform the global business system and fight for an equal and inclusive society for all. By engaging with the world’s largest organisations and thought leaders and ensuring that disability is on their agenda we can collectively reach our goal of inclusion. We have developed and created tools to support our business leaders and their boards on their inclusion journey.  At some point in our lives, every single one of us will experience disability and we all have a responsibility to make humanity function better.”

[i] House of Commons Library, Briefing Paper Number 7540, Disabled People in Employment, 24 May 2021

Lead by example: Demand for ‘Inclusive Leadership’ coaching increases

Demand for ‘inclusive leadership’ coaching have increased, with 27% of executives citing it as an area for improvement

Inclusive leadership is climbing the business agenda and is now the most requested management coaching topic, according to the latest feedback figures from Talking Talent, a specialist coaching consultancy. While more than a quarter (27%) of business executives have requested more coaching on being an ‘inclusive leader’ there is still significant strides to be made to tackle diversity, equity, and inclusion issues within business.

Creating a truly inclusive workforce is one of the greatest challenges for leaders, and research from Gartner indicates that only 40% of employees agree that their manager fosters an inclusive environment. The behaviours shown by those at the top of a business filter through to the rest of the organisation, so it is essential that leaders give diversity, equity and inclusion due attention.

Chris Parke, CEO at Talking Talent, says, “Recognising and embracing employee differences continues to be a challenge within organisations. Not because people are negative or consciously biased, but because they are operating within their own cultural norms and are not necessarily aware that their own inherent thinking and perspectives influence their actions in ways that could be seen as exclusive. Those who have requested inclusive leadership coaching have taken an essential step, examined the state of inclusion around them and identified a problem, which is, of course, the first step in ‘solving’ the problem.”

Following the monumental events of 2020, where diversity, equity, and inclusion was cemented as a board level agenda item, Google searches for guidance on ‘inclusive leadership’ peaked throughout the year. Search queries of ‘diversity in business’ were up a huge 170% and demonstrates how pressing the need for coaching is. Inclusive leadership coaching aims to explore unique challenges for each business so that holistic and realistic solutions can be applied and will then affect the whole workforce.

Parke, adds, “Attitudes towards leadership are slowly evolving and 20 years ago it would have been a struggle to convince leaders to undergo this type of coaching. For me, looking inward and identifying areas for improvement is the mark of a true leader. While there is still a lot of progress to be made, it is encouraging that inclusive behaviours are now more essential within leadership.”

Inclusive leadership coaching has been conducting with a range of Talking Talent clients, after the sessions, a spokesperson from Mondi said, I can implement these new leadership techniques in my own meetings, and I know how to be less passively inclusive. I also know to work on my own self-awareness and actively ask for feedback.”

A spokesperson from Siemens added, “The inclusive leadership awareness session left us with a lot of insights and thought-provoking moments. Further, it has strengthened our resolve to (a) reflect more intensively upon our actions (b) role model the desired behaviours and (c) keep moving forward with our aspiration of not just accepting & valuing inclusion but also actively combating exclusion.”

The ongoing effects of lockdown and events of 2020 highlighted the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in business more than ever before. Terms such as ‘allyship’ and ‘unconscious bias’ were entering discussions in and out of the boardroom. Allyship in particular was a breakout query, with Google searches of ‘allyship meaning’ increasing by more than 5000%. Some organisations rushed to support causes, and with little inside understanding, the statements backfired. Being an inclusive workplace means being representative of the wider population which can reduce the risk of inaccurately representing experiences.

Parke concludes, “The water-cooler, or rather the video call catchup, moments of 2020 were about issues way beyond television and the weather. Instead, many were looking at our own behaviours and how they may impact those around us. From there we also looked at our places of work and the part leaders have to play in creating a place where people can openly call out exclusive behaviours and everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. Conscious inclusion is about developing your culture through purposeful and intentional actions to support and uplift others, acting consciously and conscientiously to create real and lasting change, naturally this type of workplace is spearheaded by an inclusive leader.”


Discussions around race are nothing new, so what needs to change?

Discussion about race in the workplace is not a new phenomenon, says Mary Asante, Director at HRi, so what needs to change?

The UK first passed the Race Relations Act in 1965. This act was reviewed in 1968, and again in 1976, with the most recent act about race, the Equality Act, passed in 2010. George Floyd’s death and protests across the world by the Black Lives Matter movement and its allies have highlighted how widespread and sensitive the issue of racism still is. Race discussions continue to be a difficult and uncomfortable discussion in society at large and particularly in the workplace. People still seem reluctant to talk about it, fearing they may say something wrong and inadvertently offend someone. In most workplaces, it is quietly subsumed into the equality or diversity and inclusion discussions and rarely receives enough mention, discussion, or attention. The result of this is sadly limited change and slow progress.

Race and Employment

The issue of race raises its head right from the onset of the employment journey, at the recruitment stage and may be prevalent throughout the employee lifecycle. Although the reality is that it starts way before this in society and in the education of our children.

Recruitment and Selection

The recruitment and selection process often unfairly discriminates against candidates from ethnic minorities, often unconsciously. For instance, the CV screening process may preclude candidates with foreign or minority sounding names. This is regardless of whether the individual is British, born and raised in Britain or not. As a result, there has been a call for blind selection of CVs (i.e., selecting CVs without candidates’ names on them) as a potential solution to this issue. Whilst this may help at initial stages, this alone will not resolve the issues surrounding racial bias and discrimination in the recruitment process, they will instead simply rear their head further along in the process.

Let’s look at an example for you to further demonstrate this point. Amy applied for a senior manager in a large well-known company. She was very qualified, educated to degree level, with years of experience in her field. She was a highflyer, meeting a lot of the job role requirements in the job description. Amy was shortlisted for and had a successful phone interview. She was invited to the second stage face-to-face interview, which she was extremely pleased with. Amy turned up for the interview and introduced herself at the reception, stating why she was there. The receptionist seemed surprised, as did the hiring manager when they came to the reception area to meet her. Amy is Black British, born and raised in London. She is well spoken and articulated. There was no indication whatsoever during the phone interview that Amy was Black. Hence, the recruiting team were totally surprised and taken aback when they met her in person. This made the second interview awkward. Amy did not get the job. The hiring team could not rise above their prejudice.

Progression and Talent Development

When it comes to progressing within organisations, the glass ceiling for most minorities is much lower. The McGregor-Smith review on Race in the workplace highlights that ‘only one in 16 in top management positions are held by an ethnic minority person’. This figure becomes even lower when you take a closer look at the separate groups within the ethnicity pool. The representation for Black and South Asian in top management positions is much lower. It doesn’t take much to realise that there is a real ‘wastage’ of talent and indeed, a missed opportunity for employers to engage and benefit from the skills and talent of a diverse workforce by limiting the development opportunities for minority individuals.

Minorities are often overlooked for promotion for a variety of reasons. In some cases, there is a lack of recognition for the roles minorities play in organisations. They may never truly belong or be given opportunities to shine in the same way as their white colleagues. Whether this is down to unconscious bias, conscious bias or favouritism or a combination of all three remains a challenge which needs to be further explored.

Here’s another example. Roy was a member of the leadership team of a technology company. The team comprised of seven senior managers, four of whom were already directors of the business. Roy looked after a number of functions in the business, including the IT department. He made significant contributions to the business and the strategic direction of the business. Over a period of two years, two of the three non-directors were made directors of the business. Roy was side-lined. There were never even any discussions around appointing Roy to the Board of directors. Operationally, Roy operated at director level, but was never offered the opportunity or recognition as a director of the business. The sad reality is that the organisation is not going to appoint a Black man to their Board of Directors, but were quite happy to exploit his skills, expertise, knowledge, hard work and dedication.

As Lynne Ingram, Managing Associate at the solicitors, Freeths explains, it is vitally important that decisions relating to employees are based on skills and attributes rather than any conscious or unconscious bias. “Once an allegation of discrimination or less favourable treatment because of race is raised by an employee, the burden moves to the employer to prove that that any decision is not because of discrimination. The risks to the business are not only the failure to retain talent, losing out on the positives of a diverse workforce, reputational damage but compensation is uncapped for discrimination, the highest award was in excess of £1.5 million which was an extreme case, but the average award is £35k.”

Reward and Recognition

Minorities may be paid less for performing similar roles within organisations. The gap becomes wider for ethnic minority women. The same can be said for bonus payments and other incentives. All employees must be valued, recognised, and rewarded accordingly for
their effort, output, and contribution. The decision should not be influenced by whether the decision maker ‘likes someone or not’ but they often and sadly are. There have been calls for the government to make ethnicity pay gap reporting compulsory for organisations, similar to gender pay gap reporting (currently suspended due to the pandemic). The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that gender pay gap dropped from 17.4% in 2019 to 15.5%, a step in the right direction. Campaigners for ethnicity pay gap reporting hope that mandating organisations to report on ethnicity pay gap will have the same impact over a period of time.

Organisational Culture

Talking about race in the workplace is often seen as HR’s job, with senior leadership very often passing the responsibility on. The reality is however that for effective and meaningful conversations to take place in the workplace, and for change to happen, the leadership team need to be driving this. It needs to be on the boardroom agenda, not as a checklist exercise for HR to fulfil. Ultimately it be deliberated by the board; backed with action and accountability. And not only that, but the culture within organisations must be open to honest discussions around race. This is where HR can come in, to ask the challenging and sometimes uncomfortable questions and to help leaders look at their own organisations and in effect, hold up that mirror for them. HR can play a key role in highlighting the issue of racial inequality and racism within their organisation or when working with their clients as an external HR professional. This must be done at all stages throughout the employee lifecycle.

Holding leaders to account

Organisational leadership must be accountable for all aspects of race, racial discrimination, and racial inequalities. They must engage with HR, Equality and Diversity professionals and legal advisors to enable them to address the issue holistically, for their organisation to benefit from the skills, knowledge, experience, and talent of a more inclusive workforce.

With this in mind, I will close with some key questions organisations (and more specifically leaders) can ask themselves to help promote equality and tackle racism in their workplace:

  1. When have your employees felt different to others in the business?
  2. How did that impact your employee’s behaviours? This might not necessarily be work related. It could be for instance, not putting themselves forwards for opportunities within their teams.
  3. What is racism? And what does racism look like in our organisation because it will no doubt exist somewhere.
  4. How can we address racism within our business?
  5. How can we create and drive genuine equal opportunities within our
  6. What biases do I have as a leader? Leaders and managers would do well to take the Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT)which highlights our own biases and how these can unconsciously impact our decision-making process.
  7. How do we include our minority employees in our discussions around race and other organisational challenges?
  8. How do we remove the language of fear that is so often associated with race in the workplace and ensure there is an open and honest conversation happening?
  9. How can we engage all of our employees in discussions around equality?
  10. How do we harness the skills and talent of our minority employees?
  11. How do we find suitable mentors (or better still sponsors) for our rising minority stars?
  12. How do we train our leaders and managers to understand racism and its
    challenges in our workplace?
  13. How can we hold ourselves to account?

Only once you have asked yourself all of the above questions and honestly considered your responses will you be in a position to confidently talk about race in your workplace. And indeed, only then will you be able to hold yourself to account.

Words by Mary Asante, Director at HRi.


How to be inclusive when hosting meetings or presenting online

Running a business would be simpler if everyone did things the same way, but we know just how different people are.


The increase in the use of Zoom during the pandemic provides a useful example, (other cloud-based video conferencing services are available). If you’re hosting a meeting, you merely login, click a few buttons, send out the invites, admit people as they arrive, and off you go.


Easy? Yes, for most of us.


The thing is, human minds produce an infinite variation in neurocognitive functioning, and for many living with neurodiversities and disabilities, online interaction is not always straightforward and stress-free. The good news for hosts of online gathering is that there are a few simple things that can help make the experience easier for more people.


Around ten percent of people in the UK have some degree of dyslexia. People with dyslexia can be extremely creative thinkers and skilled problem solvers, but they can experience difficulty with information that is written down as the order of letters in words can appear to be jumbled when they read.

What can you do to make slides clearer and easier to understand?


First, alter the background colour. Whether you choose pink, blue or green, doesn’t really matter, provided you avoid bright white. Also, include a strong contrast between the background colour and font colour.

Fonts should be simple. For online slides, you want Sans Serif, such as Arial or Helvetica or Verdana; Verdana was designed to be read on screens. Also, boost your font sizes, and avoid, reds, blues and greens, as people with colour-blindness might find it challenging to read.


For the layout, again, simple is best. Don’t squish things together or try to be too fancy. Your goal is effective communication, not winning a design award! Good line spacing is essential, and make sure ideas are also clearly separated and differentiated.


Those are a few ways to improve the experience of your online gathering for people with issues with written communication, but what about verbal communication?


70+ million people in the world stammer. Stammering can take three forms:


  1. Repeating sounds or syllables of a word
  2. Making sounds longer
  3. Words getting stuck and not coming out


People can work to ensure their stutter is manageable—Golden Globe winning actress Emily Blunt, and President Joe Biden are all proof of that—but many people who have issues with stammering can be triggered in moments of anxiety or tension. As an online host, you can take steps to reduce potential stress.

Rather than just picking on someone randomly to answer a question, after asking your question, say that before turning to (name the person) to share their thoughts you will give people a moment to consider the question. During interactive sessions, if you allow people to just call out, someone with a stammer may feel that because they are unable to get their words out quickly, they might be overlooked, and so remain silent. A way to mitigate this is either ask people to raise their hand, or ask them to write a comment in the chat box.


If someone in the meeting begins to stammer, patience is more helpful than jumping in to try to rescue them. Rather than attempting to fill in what they are saying, just listen without interrupting, giving them the space and time to say what they want. By doing this, you make it clear that there is value in their contribution, and that what they have to say is more important than how they are saying it.


You may want to give participants in your online event the opportunity to flag up any special requirements, and it is best to do this in advance, perhaps in the form of a survey that allows for anonymity, with the option to get in touch with you direct.

To recap, here are the things to avoid:


  • Too much text on a slide
  • Red, green and blue fonts
  • Glaring backgrounds
  • Lots of links and buttons to click on for a meeting
  • Singling out someone or rushing someone


Things to do:


  • Use a Sans Serif font
  • Use large font sizes
  • Contrasting background colour with font colour
  • Creating an anonymous survey so people can say what specialist requirements they need.


As a business owner or manager, you want to empower everyone you work with. Being inclusive in all your online presentations, webinars and meetings is a key element of this as is giving plenty of positive reinforcement by being attentive, patient and relaxed throughout.


By Kellie McCord, Toastmasters International


Kellie McCord is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org