Tunde Banjoko OBE, is the Founder of social mobility charity Making the Leap – an innovative grassroots social justice charity that aims to provide young people with the right skills and mind-set to lift them out of poverty. Tunde is also the host of The Social Mobility Podcast, a series of discussions with senior leaders about diversity, equity and inclusion.
We are thrilled to have Tunde as the latest voice in our guest series sharing his thoughts on how we can make EDI more inclusive.
In corporate spaces the main discussion around diversity is whether it is the social justice perspective or the business case that is the most compelling reason for it; that it is a good thing is universally accepted. The business case focuses on widening the talent pool, or getting cognitive diversity, or better understanding your clients, or those same clients demanding it. McKinsey‘s findings on it are often quoted, where they talk about the greater profits that businesses who have two or more diversity strands make.
There are undoubtedly many gains that have been made in the quest for equality; in recent years we have seen gender pay gap reporting resulting in movement and we are making progress when it comes to women on boards. The murder of George Floyd and the ensuing worldwide Black Lives Matter protests have seen an unprecedented push to make progress on the thorniest of issues that is race equality.
Whilst a number of battles have undoubtedly been won, if we consider that the ultimate aim of the push for diversity is for us to have a more just society, then I fear that despite those victories, we are a long way from winning the war. I have been increasingly aware that there is a pushback against diversity that whilst is almost never said out loud in polite company, is nonetheless there and reveals itself with regularity outside of corporate meetings and the conversations that are had therein.
This has come in many forms, the “war on woke” (even though “woke” purely means to be aware of social injustice) and the abuse that Black footballers are subjected to both on social media and from the stands. Then we have the US podcast host with the biggest audience claiming that White straight men are being silenced, England football team players being booed for kneeling for a few seconds and White working-class boys inaccurately being portrayed as failing more than all others educationally.
There’s plenty more examples I could give, but the fact is there are large, and possibly increasing, numbers of people who have had enough of diversity because they view it as a threat to them at worst and excluding them at best.
For those of us who believe in the inclusion part of EDI, it may serve us to recognise this and look at how we may bring them into the fold. For me social mobility is the answer, a feeling that is shared by a number of senior business leaders that I’ve interviewed on the Social Mobility Podcast.
Firstly, it (socio-economic background) is the diversity characteristic that most impacts life chances and more focus needs to be on this anyway; secondly it is the most inclusive of diversity characteristics and helps counter a narrative that straight, White, able-bodied people only have something to lose from a more equal society. There are a number of challenges around definitions around social mobility, such as how do you determine who is social mobility disadvantaged and even what is social mobility, and this nebulosity seems to put people off; but it’s important for organisations to work through this to ensure that we tackle the current situation where millions are written off simply because they happen to be born poor.
Wherever you are on your social mobility, the main thing is that you are on that journey. There are a number of great resources available from bodies such as the Social Mobility Commission and the Sutton Trust, and there is also a number of excellent social mobility charities that you can choose to partner with. And when you get to that place on your journey where you are doing activity that you are proud of, then enter the UK Social Mobility Awards to showcase and celebrate your contribution to advancing social mobility in our country.
Do something and do it now, to borrow a phrase “you know it makes sense”.
Tunde Banjoko is a social justice advocate, and the founder of multiple initiatives that are trying to help make the world a fairer place, initiatives like the social mobility charity Making The Leap and the UK Social Mobility Awards. He has almost 30 years’ experience of running a grassroots organisation and is known as an inspiring and convincing public speaker, who has given presentations at leadership programmes, seminars and conferences. Tunde has developed interventions that have transformed the life chances of thousands of young people from less-advantaged backgrounds, has encouraged hundreds of leading organisations to participate in social change, and engaged with a number of senior business leaders to proudly talk about diversity. His latest initiative is to support the career development of charity professionals from racialised minority backgrounds.
Tunde is qualified as an Executive Coach and provides consultancy to businesses who wish to make advances on race equity within their walls. He has an MSc in Urban Regeneration from UCL and was awarded an OBE in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours List.