IF YOU WANT REAL CHANGE PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS — Part 3
Sponsorship and Mentoring
Senior leader should be sponsors and advocates for mentoring programmes.
“Diversity training alone could not impact current pay gap issues, sponsorship and mentoring offered better opportunities for under-represented groups. There is still an old boys’ club in operation at the top of British business, therefore white managers tend to benefit from informal mentoring and sponsorship via their social networks” — Nancy Roberts, CEO and founder of Umbrella
As a leader, you have declared you want change. You want to see diversity and inclusion at the core of your company culture so that everyone feels welcome and is treated equally but to drive this change you need to be willing to take a bold step, use your privilege and sponsor someone. Payscale recently researched the influence of sponsors on salary and career advancement. which showed having a sponsor pays, especially if he is a white man.
A sponsor takes personal responsibility for the career growth of their protégé and ensures their protégé has the visibility and the stretch assignments to earn them their next promotion. “Your sponsor is the person who will speak on your behalf when you are not in the room. He or she will put your name forward for opportunities that you have no way of knowing about.” — Minda Zetlin
To become an inclusive leader who leads by example, educate yourself using the resources provided in Part 1 as a start point, challenge yourself to learn, to listen to the stories of black people in your organisation, develop a relationship with them and then sponsor them. You will create a ripple effect with your wider leadership community and change the narrative.
Mentor v Sponsor
The key difference between mentors and sponsors is that mentors give advice while sponsors actively seek to provide opportunities. A mentor can be anyone in a position of experience, while a sponsor is a senior-level executive. It is rare but possible to have a dual role as a mentor and sponsor.
This is written assuming your company has a mentoring scheme in please, if you don’t, create one there is a great article that explains Why Mentoring Matters
As a leadership coach and a mentor who has created mentoring schemes, I can say not all mentoring programs are created equal and leaders need to look at the design and management of their current mentoring scheme. There is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to corporate mentorship programs but it is important you have the right mentors who don’t necessarily have to work in your company but they need to be able to relate to their mentees.
A lady I met at an event shared her experience with me about having a mentor assigned to her by her company. Even though they were both women they came from different worlds; the mentor did not get her and this lady did not feel she could be her authentic self with her mentor. Despite that being the first time we had met, I decided I would mentor her. I am 15 years her senior, and male, yet able to support her much better because I understand the challenges of navigating the corporate world as a black person.
Research found that poor mentoring experiences can lead to lasting physical and psychological effects so it is important to create a mentoring scheme with appropriate resources both financially and physically with the right people with senior leadership sponsors to drive the programme forward.
The media narrative needs to change; production companies, movie studios & newspapers need to represent the demographic as well as have people in the boardroom who will approve the right shows.
ITV has 21 people across is Board of Directors & Management team not one of those are black.
The BBC board is led by a non-executive Chairman and consists of ten non-executive members including Tom Ilube who is black. In its 98 years of existence it has had 16 directors-general. All white, all male and at a time where the corporation has stated a desire for a “diverse and gender-balanced senior leadership team” by 2020 they have just appointed a new director-general who was already on the board.
Channel 4 is the most diverse with 14 board members and 1 black representative Althea Efunshile and that was after a government U-turn. She had successfully interviewed for the role but her appointment was blocked in favour of four white men on the same day as a green paper on corporate governance was published that highlighted the importance of “improving the diversity of boardrooms so that their composition better reflects the demographics of employees”.
Just a few months ago, Channel 4 premiered a show called The British Tribe Next Door where a family from county Durham lived alongside an African community in the Namibian desert. The show was racist (yeah I said it) but a good example of why black voices are needed in the room. There is so much black talent who keeps on knocking on the door only to be rejected by the gatekeepers yet budgets are going to shows which reinforce racist stereotypes.
People at the top — the commissioning class — tend to all go to the same colleges, all read the same books, all go to the same plays, all watch the same things in the cinema. People in higher positions within channels and production companies who can affect change in commissioning and company structure are needed.
The proportion of minority ethnic talent working in creative and content production — a crucial area when it comes to shaping on-screen output is at 8% across the wider UK-based TV industry and people from an Asian background are better represented in the TV industry compared with those from black African, Caribbean and black British backgrounds.
- Invested in black shows 2.22% of our TV programmes are made by BAME directors. >1% of that is for black directors.
- Just 2.22% of UK television programmes were made by BAME directors between 2013–2016 (could not find any stats on black only)
- Television episodes directed by BAME directors 2.31%. (could not find any stats on black only)
- 3.6% of directors come from BAME backgrounds (could not find any stats on black only)
“If diversity makes better TV, which I 100% believe, is it any wonder that UK television is falling behind? — Sir Lenny Henry
The success of shows like Brother With No Game which has received over 1 million views and has gone on to reach a wider global audience through distribution across Africa, the Caribbean, US and Europe winning multiple awards highlights that the problem is not lack of talent.
“It is a real challenge” to find commissioners and broadcasters who are “sufficiently open-minded” and willing to “give up some control”. They need to trust programme-makers to produce something different that “they may not fully understand” because it is outside their cultural comfort zone”- Pat Younge, managing director.
Change who makes the decisions, and that means you can make changes to what’s on-screen — Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4
It’s not new news that inequality exists in the venture capital world. In 2019 the UK had $13.2 billion of Venture capital investment yet only 1% of that went to black-owned business despite businesses run by Black and minority ethnic (BME) entrepreneurs estimated to contribute between £25-£32 billion pounds per year to the British economy.
A report from the British Business Bank found that for every £1 of venture capital investment in the UK last year, all-female founder teams received less than 1p.
76% of VCs are white
As the graph above shows black people are underrepresented in VC firms and that is reflected in the amount of funding they receive. Change is needed to address the inequality in funding but that changes start’s with the VC leaders who are currently posting words of supports and solidarity.
It would be remiss to not acknowledge the firms below who are filling the gap, providing much-needed capital and guidance to black entrepreneurs.
Impact X — Founded to support underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe.
Goodsoil — A VC firm that partners with founders to build global, market-defying companies. We fund diverse teams across Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe.
Cornerstone Partners — The first Angel Investor Network focused on investing in businesses owned and run by black and diverse founders.
This gap in funding provides the opportunity to inject capital into underrepresented founder teams at excellent valuations and with the opportunity to generate significant returns on invested capital. In fact, this persistent capital market inefficiency means that enterprises started by underrepresented entrepreneurs are on average likely to be able to deliver a higher rate of return for investors than other venture investments — Eric Collins Impact X
Softbank has also recognised this opportunity and recently announced a $100 million Opportunity Fund that will invest only in companies led by people of colour. SoftBank will not take a traditional management fee, the company said in a statement. Half of its gains will be reinvested into subsequent Growth Opportunity Funds. The company will also donate a portion of its gains to organizations that create opportunities for people of colour.
Softbank’s COO, Marcelo Claure, that “[f]ounders and entrepreneurs of colour have so much potential, but they face unfair barriers that white founders don’t face.”
Small investments made in the early stages of the organisation’s growth are vital to creating companies like Amazon, Monzo & Starling and it’s time black entrepreneurs got the same opportunities as their white counterparts.
Make a commitment to support black communities who are doing amazing things. There are so many opportunities to directly fund individuals or communities involved in cultural work. People who use their skills, time and energy to further the wellbeing of black communities across the UK. Community support is a largely underfunded and overlooked field of work, I have never come across a company in the UK who supports the black community come upon any of the dress down or volunteer days.
Some examples are:
There are also grassroots programs that are dedicated to building a more inclusive tech scene in the UK who need partners who are passionate about inclusion, and understand that diversity needs action :
UKBLACKTECH — Who is on a mission to make the UK the most ethnically diverse tech ecosystem in the world.
ColorInTech — Our programs help to connect the underrepresented to opportunities in the tech industry. Working across the pipeline, we’re able to close the gap and shorten the learning curve.
Show that you care by taking an interest in what your people care about.
Leader set the tone, to drive a change in Sponsorship, Mentoring, Investment & Community leaders need to make the drive the change. Actions, not words, social media posts or PR releases will show the true intentions of companies who have publicly stated they want a change.
If you haven’t done so read:
Part 1 — https://bit.ly/2XQaiYP
Part 2 — https://bit.ly/2MIAfDj