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Tokenism or Diversity?

Yesterday I hosted my first ever Clubhouse room alongside the amazing @Marina Conway-Gordon. The Clubhouse app couldn’t have come at a better time in my social journey (normally a laggard) as the nature of it allows for effective, open conversations and this has been one of our main objectives for the series. So, we kicked off with the topic of Tokenism in business to a comfortably sized room. 

So, what is Tokenism? 

Tokenism is defined as the practice of making only a token effort or doing no more than the minimum, especially in order to comply with a law. (Collins English Dictionary2021).  In the Clubhouse room we discussed how, despite this age of progressiveness and awareness, it still feels as though some brands and companies are only inclusive of people of colour to tick a box. The recent Sainsbury’s Christmas advert that featured a black family enjoying gravy was only one of the examples used.

Was this an act of tokenism or a genuine act to be inclusive and encourage diversity throughout the brand?  A closer look might reveal that this representation and attempt at diversity doesn’t follow through as you go higher up their employment or ‘food’ chain.   Therefore, this raises that all important question; how do we differentiate between genuine diversity and tokenism? 

From the discussion it was clear that we don’t want special treatment we just want the same treatment. So, how can brands and businesses showcase diversity without it feeling forced? And what can we as a collective do to work towards cultivating inclusive spaces? 

A strong response and one I agree with came from the audience.  It may not work for all types of business but it’s a great suggestion.  The practical suggestion of trialling candidates equally for roles allowing them to showcase their skills on a task and the most suitable candidate following the trial period would then be appointed based on the strength of ability and fit rather than unconscious bias from the employer creeping in.  

Which leads nicely on to a whole other topic coming soon.

As The Business of Black is an educational conversation, I would of course welcome any feedback on the matter. 

See you next week same day Tuesday but different time – 5.30pm.