SCOTTISH companies still have a long way to go before business can claim to be truly diverse north of the Border with some – not all – making gestures which are yet to be “converted into tangible actions and results which benefit our community”.

That’s the view of Enoch Adeyemi, the founder and CEO of Black Professionals Scotland, an organisation established to support black and ethnic minorities in Scotland.

Mr Adeyemi, who is a chartered certified accountant and also the founder of Bagafa, an e-commerce platform which sells Afro-Caribbean products ranging from fashion and health and beauty to arts, will be a panel speaker at The Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Conference next month.

Mr Adeyemi, co-founder of the premier domestic tourism brand in Nigeria, VisitNigeriaNow, said: “It’s been almost a year since the death of George Floyd and we will be marking his death by hosting an event to share some good work being done by individuals and corporates around ethnic diversity.”

Asked if he sees challenges, he said that admitting there is still a problem with ethnic diversity remains one of them. “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, that’s not progress,” he said, quoting Malcolm X, the African-American Muslim minister and US human rights activist.

“If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. They haven’t pulled the knife out; they won’t even admit that it’s there.

“Until there is an admission that this is an issue, we will not be able to make any remarkable progress.”

The Black Lives Matter campaign, Mr Adeyemi continued, was a huge focus last summer with many companies reacting and looking at their own work. “How do we keep this focus on the agenda of companies?” he said.

“I truly believe in the power of reporting and accountability due to my accountancy background where companies are required to report some key metrics which then forces them to behave appropriately.

“If we make it compulsory for companies to report their ethnicity and other diversity data and pay gap analysis, it will put the onus on them to do the right thing and continuously take tangible actions which will benefit the underrepresented within our society.”

Mr Adeyemi believes that Black Professionals Scotland ceases to exist then “that will be success”, adding: “We will cease to exist once there is equity and fairness in the workplace for black colleagues and this runs through hiring, promotion, disciplinary and lots more.
“In the interim, success will be having a tangible number of organisations partnering with us and coming on the journey to deliver some of our short-term objectives around internship opportunities and hiring skilled black talent in Scotland.”

The Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Conference takes place on May 20 via the online platform Hopin. It is sponsored by BAE Systems, CMS, Diageo and JP Morgan.
Chris Rae, partner, Real Estate team at CMS, says “I’m very proud that CMS Scotland are sponsoring the conference.

“It reflects the importance that we as a firm continue to place on both inclusivity and diversity. The conference creates a platform for open discussion and the promotion of future-facing people strategies.”

Other speakers include: Dorileen Forbes, occupational health wellbeing programme manager, UK and Ireland, at Diageo; Hannah Davidson, head of people and culture at MadeBrave; and Mike Douglas, director of Age Scotland.
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