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EMpower Role Model List nominations are open!

The 2018 EMpower Ethnic Minority Role Model nominations are open!


Our CEO & Founder, Suki Sandhu, is a big believer in the power of role models and the effect they have on creating greater diversity within business.

Established by Suki in 2017, EMpower exists to challenge the lack of ethnic diversity within business, particularly at executive levels. Working with member firms across a broad range of industries, EMpower helps identify and address challenges around the recruitment, retention and inclusion of ethnic minority talent.

Through an annual series of programmes, events and bespoke advisory services, EMpower helps member firms build more inclusive cultures and develop diverse talent pipelines.

Following the success of the 2017 EMpower Ethnic Minority Leaders lists, EMpower is back for a bigger and better 2018, with more senior leaders and more global reach. The EMpower Ethnic Minority Role Models 2018 will be split into three categories:

1. 100 Ethnic Minority Executives
2. 50 Ethnic Minority Future Leaders
3. 20 Advocates

If you’d like to nominate someone for these lists, click here for more information.

Closing date is 6th April.

Diverse Interim Executives – A catalyst for change

The business case for diversity is now established beyond doubt. Organisations that form teams of mixed gender, ethnicity, physical ability, age and sexual orientation are more representative of their customers. Together they offer a variety of viewpoints and a wider range of experience, which can improve decision-making and problem-solving perspectives.

The question many organisations are now struggling with is: ‘How do I go about effecting change?’


Everyone has a role to play in creating a more inclusive workplace, but senior leaders can have a much greater and enduring influence.

Board or executive level leaders have the power and influence to drive through organisational change. And diverse senior leaders send a powerful – and often very visible – signal that an individual’s background is no barrier to career progression within an organisation, providing inspirational role models to those coming through the ranks.

However, whilst progress has been made in some areas of boardroom diversity in recent years, overall change in some sectors has been slow and sluggish.

The number of female board members is on the rise, but is still a long way from achieving equality with men. Evidence suggests there are both glass ‘ceilings’ and glass ‘walls.’ The overall percentage of women on boards was around 22% in 2017, according to figures from the Guardian.

Also, the Parker Review, published in November 2017, found that only 8 per cent of board members in the FTSE 350 were non-white even though 14 per cent of workers came from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Moreover, there is no openly out LGBT+ CEO of a FTSE 100 company and the fact that no official or reliable data exists to show the number of disabled board directors perhaps tells its own story.

audeliss-Interim-2Part of the reason for the snail’s pace of change is that opportunities to make new permanent senior hires are few and far between for most organisations. So, even if the appetite for a move to a more diverse leadership team exists, it may take years to achieve.

This is where hiring interim executives from diverse backgrounds can play a role, since interim roles arise far more frequently. This could be a great opportunity to introduce a more diverse candidate who – even within a limited timeframe – can have a major impact.

In fact, the idea that small changes can make a big difference to wider organisational culture has gained credence in recent years, following the publication of influential books such as ‘Little Bets’ and the idea of ‘Trojan Mice’.

These management theories suggest that – rather than wait for a huge, grand plan – organisations should instead focus on making lots of small changes that catalyse wider change. The hiring of a diverse interim executive can be one of these – quickly introducing fresh perspectives and a diversity of thought that is unhindered by groupthink.

So how do you go about finding a diverse interim executive? (more…)

Seasons greetings!


As you can tell from our team photo, we’re all super excited to have the festive season upon us.

It’s been an absolutely fantastic year for Audeliss. We’ve built upon the success of our current partnerships and we’ve genuinely helped improve the diversity of boardrooms and leadership teams.

Some of the highlights this year include:

A growing team | We’ve invested in our own team and have had some fantastic new additions this year.
Managing Director | Jonathan Swain joined us in September as our new Managing Director, as Chris Bernard stepped into a part time role as Associate Director.
Board practice | Our board practice has grown by over 284% in the last year.
Our inspirational leader | Our CEO & Founder Suki Sandhu was named 2017’s ‘Most Inspiring Recruitment Leader‘ at Recruiter’s Investing in Talent awards.
Key events | Alongside other great events, this year we hosted our Chairman’s Dinner in the House of Lords as well as a huge Diversity in Tech event hosted by Aviva Plc in their very modern digital garage in Hoxton.
Giving to charity | We have given over £32,000 to charities this year as we thoroughly believe if you can, you must.

2018 is set to be an even bigger and better year. We have more planned hires joining us, we’ll be moving into beautiful new offices and we’ll be launching our new brand and website. We have a whole host of events planned too, one of which is a Chairman and CEO Banquet.

We’d like to thank you all for your support this year. We hope 2017 has been just as wonderful and that you join us in our excitement for the year ahead.

Have a fantastic Christmas and a happy New Year!

From all of us at Audeliss.

Audeliss host Diversity in Tech event in partnership with Aviva

Last week we hosted our Diversity in Tech event in partnership with Aviva. The event was hosted at Aviva’s groundbreaking Digital Garage in Hoxton Square. With over 120 guests filling the room, Caroline Prendergast, HR Director Digital and Asia at Aviva opened the event with a warm welcome.

Our moderator for the event was our Founder & CEO, Suki Sandhu. Over the years since inception of Audeliss and OUTstanding, Suki has worked with some incredibly successful leaders and we were honoured to have the following experts on our panel of speakers:

Tom Daniell, Marketing Director at Aviva

Piers Linney, Entrepreneur and Investor

Hayley Sudbury, Founder of WerkIn

Dhiraj Mukherjee, Co-Founder of Shazam

Our panellists first introduced themselves, sharing a bit of information about their own experiences regarding diversity in technology. The event was then very much an interactive setting with guests able to ask questions to the panellists at any point.

There were a few key points from the event which we found insightful and provided food for thought for those that attended.

Unconscious bias – How do we to tackle it?

CEOs and leadership teams need to recognise that biases do exist and should feel comfortable both discussing it and challenging it.

Quotas and metrics

Some businesses still have 100% male representation in certain areas. Without providing that push to create a more equal workforce, how will it ever change?

The role recruiters play

The fact is there are fantastic diverse candidates out there. Recruiters just have to find them. Suki commented, “Our industry is good at lowering the bar. Competitors are telling clients it’s harder to attract and engage diverse candidates but it’s not. They just don’t want to do the work.”

Balancing corporate commitments to diversity with freedom of speech

If organisations can be clear on that when they are recruiting, then they should only be attracting people that stand for those same values. Then freedom of speech should not be an issue because people are all working to the same agenda with the same values in mind.

Influencing the next generation

Quite a clear message that came across was all the panellists’ ambitions to work to influence younger generations. Piers commented, “It’s a 20 year issue. We can’t fix it overnight.”

The importance of role models

The panel all agreed on the importance of role models. Piers feels having role models would definitely help the issue, “When people see people like them doing what they want to do, it lets them believe they too can do it. If young people are not seeing role models that they can aspire to be, they give up.”

Our experts gave their final piece of advice to all of those championing diversity.

 “There are a lot of large organisations that are trying to raise profiles of these groups. Listen to them. Give them a budget. Make them visible.” Piers Linney

“We all have to be really conscious of the reality of the role we are in and being conscious about the decisions we are making.” Tom Daniell

“I encourage you all to be brave and try something different.” Hayley Sudbury

“Being a role model is an act of choice.” Dhiraj Mukherjee

Thank you to all those that joined us at this event. We hope you enjoyed it and we look forward to the next one.

We’d also like to thank Aviva, for partnering with us and hosting the event, as well as our panellists for making the event the success that it was. Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights with us all.

We’ve put together a key learning document to summarise this event. If you’d like a copy, please email your request to ceo@audeliss.com



Event: Diversity in Tech 14th November

Diversity in Tech Invitation Oct

Suki Sandhu, Founder & CEO of Audeliss, is crowned as Most Inspiring Recruitment Leader

Suki Sandhu, Founder & CEO of Audeliss, has been named Recruiter’s Most Inspiring Recruitment Leader at this year’s Investing In Talent Awards.

This is a great honour for Suki who has dedicated his professional and personal life to creating a more inclusive and equal world.

Suki commented on his award, “I’m thrilled to be honoured with this award. I genuinely spend every day trying to be a good role model and inspire change. My sole purpose is to change the status quo and create more diverse boardrooms. I launched both Audeliss and OUTstanding with a view to make a difference and I’m very proud to be recognised for what my teams and I have achieved. I’m constantly looking at new ways to level the playing field in business and I’ll never stop until the business world shows a truly diverse landscape with genuine inclusion.”

In 2011 Suki founded Audeliss, a niche boutique executive recruitment company founded on the core principles of diversity, integrity and quality. He’s proud that 65% of the candidates appointed into senior roles have been diverse.

Suki has created a workplace where everyone understands, and is motivated by, the company purpose: to level the playing field for BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic), LGBT+ and women at work. Audeliss is itself a diverse employer, with a 100% diverse team made up of women, BAME and LGBT+ staff, and staff of all ages.

Additionally, in 2013 Suki founded OUTstanding, a membership organisation, to support the diversification of the boardroom and create more visible senior LGBT+ role models to inspire the next generation of leaders.  In partnership with The Financial Times, OUTstanding now produces the acclaimed LGBT+ Executive Top100 list, Ally Top50 list and LGBT+ Future Leaders Top50 list each year.

In 2016, Suki launched the EMpower ethnic minority leaders lists. They are now published annually, in partnership with the Financial Times, showcasing the top 100 BAME Business Leaders and top 30 BAME Future Leaders in the UK, Ireland, United States and Canada.

This year, Suki launched the FT & HERoes Champions of Women in Business lists, to celebrate those driving gender equality in business and progressing the female talent pipeline. With a judging panel including Helena Morrissey, Founder of the 30% Club, the inaugural lists were published in the FT this September.

Suki is also an active supporter of existing industry-wide initiatives. He’s a Stonewall Ambassador and passionately supports charities through donating a percentage of profits to StandUp Foundation and Smartworks.

Well done Suki on this great achievement.

To find out more about Audeliss, click here.

To find out more about OUTstanding, click here.

To find out more about EMpower, click here.

To find out more about HERoes, click here.

Audeliss is excited to announce new Managing Director Jonathan Swain

Jonathan-Swain-1We are thrilled to announce the appointment of our new Managing Director, Jonathan Swain.  Jonathan brings to Audeliss an outstanding track record in executive recruitment. Having had leadership roles focussed around sales and business growth at both Odgers Berndtson and Penna, Jonathan joins us from recently having held Managing Director positions at Capita Professional Recruitment and Veredus. Additionally, Jonathan was the diversity lead for Capita’s resourcing division.

Prior to his career in executive recruitment, Jonathan was responsible for the national delivery of the Audit Commission’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment as well as being its national policy lead for children’s services. As well as serving as Deputy Director at the Cabinet Office, Jonathan has worked for five local authorities in senior roles. He has an MSc in politics from University of London.

Suki Sandhu, CEO & founder comments, “I’m delighted to welcome Jonathan to the Audeliss team. With a brilliant track record for personally winning and delivering Board level campaigns across local government, central government, charities, health, housing and more, Jonathan will add significantly to our track record in the public sector alongside his senior executive recruitment credentials.”

Jonathan has this to say on his new role, “’I have been an admirer of Audeliss for a long time – how through genuinely living and breathing its mission and values, it occupies such a unique and impactful position in the executive recruitment marketplace. In an often grey and traditional recruitment landscape, I am proud and delighted to be joining an innovative business that through its quality diverse and inclusive talent solutions is resetting the dial so successfully. Moreover, with Audeliss’ ambitious plans ahead, it’s truly an exciting time to be able to lead and contribute to our continued growth and success.’

Welcome to the Audeliss team Jonathan.

Our previous Managing Director, Chris Bernard, now steps into her new part-time role at Audeliss as Associate Director, focusing on client and business development. This new role frees up some time for Chris who is looking forward to spending more time with her family. Chris also recently took on a role as a Non-Executive Director of a London university.

This marks an exciting time at Audeliss.  In the last few weeks we’ve seen the Audeliss team grow: Jonathan Swain – Managing Director, Samantha Du Toit – Marketing Manager and Charli Maulson – PA to CEO & Founder Suki Sandhu. October will see Suki’s previous PA Sarah-Louise Ambler moving into her new role too so watch this space.

To find out more about Audeliss, click here.

Audeliss welcomes new Marketing Manager to the team

Audeliss is delighted to welcome on board Samantha Du Toit as Marketing Manager.

With over 10 years’ experience in the recruitment industry as a marketing professional, Samantha brings with her a wealth of knowledge. Samantha started her marketing career at a leading public sector recruiter shortly after moving to London in 2007. A born and bred South African, she also adds another level of diversity to the Audeliss team. The Audeliss team is currently 100% diverse.


Samantha says of her new role, “At the start of my job search after maternity leave, I felt so uninspired by all the roles coming my way. The minute I read up on Audeliss’ purpose, I knew I had to interview right away. It was a joy to meet Suki and the team and it was a no brainer to join such an amazing business that really challenges the status-quo. The genuine desire that Audeliss has to promote diversity in the boardroom leaves me with a huge sense of job satisfaction. The company has big plans for the future and I’m excited to be on board to work towards our business goals.”

Suki Sandhu, CEO and Founder of Audeliss, comments, ‘We are delighted to welcome Samantha into our team. Samantha’s experience and positive attitude will be invaluable in helping our purpose of making the business world a more diverse and inclusive place.’

Samantha is currently managing the marketing, communications and events for the business.

For more information about Audeliss, click here.

Suki Sandhu, CEO and Founder of Audeliss, has been shortlisted for Recruiter’s Investing In Talent 2017 awards for the Most Inspiring Recruitment Leader

We’re delighted and proud to announce that our very own CEO and Founder, Suki Sandhu, has been shortlisted for this year’s Most Inspiring Recruitment Leader at the Recruiter’s Investing In Talent 2017 awards.

This award is in recognition of the recruitment leader who has inspired employees, contributes to and builds an outstanding workplace, and leads the recruitment industry and profession in setting the agenda for best practice.

“To be shortlisted for this award is truly an honour. Not only does it give me a personal sense of pride, it shines more of the spotlight on what I do which is to champion diversity” says Suki. “My main purpose is to create a level playing field by promoting diversity in the boardroom. I’m surrounded by a fantastic team who all work hard towards this purpose and are also aligned with the Audeliss values; be brilliant, be human and be loyal.”

To find out more about these awards, click here.

Suki has also recently been nominated for the Gary Frisch Success in Entrepreneurship Honour, with Gay Times.
To find out more about Audeliss, click here.


Audeliss Founder and CEO, Suki Sandhu, has been nominated for Gay Times Honours

OUTstanding GT Honours

We are delighted to announce that Suki Sandhu, Founder and CEO, has been nominated for the Gary Frisch Success in Entrepreneurship Honour, with Gay Times.

This honour focuses on the importance of entrepreneurs and how their work helps us build a better society – just as the late Gary Frisch did. He is known for setting up the website Gaydar, a project he began to help his friend who was not able to find a partner. The site is now used by many, connecting 3.5 million users in 23 countries.

Unfortunately, Gary is no longer with us but his memory lives on through these honours, in collaboration with the Gay Times. The Honours recognise organisations and individuals who have had a tremendous impact over the past 50 years on what it means to live freely as LGBT+ people in Britain today.

This year, Suki has been nominated for the Gary Frisch Success in Entrepreneurship Honour. He has been recognised for founding OUTstanding, a membership organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) leaders and future leaders to create a more inclusive environment and for them to succeed.

In light of recent events, the need to stand up and be unafraid is greater than ever. OUTstanding was founded to prove that LGBT+ executives could be visible, safe and successful in business. It drives cultural change within its member firms, increasing visibility, inspiring, informing and connecting LGBT+ colleagues.

Other nominees for this category include:

  • Waheed Alli (Politician and businessman)
  • Robyn Exton (Founder of HER)
  • Linda Riley (Publisher of DIVA Magazine)
  • Antonia Belcher (Founding Partner of MHBC)
  • Anthony Watson (CEO of Uphold)
  • Mary Portas (Retail consultant and broadcaster)

The Gay Times Honours will be presented in November at the National Portrait Gallery – set up to promote the appreciation of men and women who have impacted British history and culture.

To find out more about OUTstanding click here.

House of Lords HR Leaders Dinner

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 16.52.16

Earlier this month, Audeliss were delighted to host our HR Leaders Dinner at the House of Lords, partnered with the Rt. Hon. Baroness Prashar and guest of honour Sarah Morris, Chief People Officer at Aviva.

The guest list comprised of senior HR professionals from the UK’s leading organisations. They provided a diverse set of experiences and insights, informing a passionate and inspiring conversation.

Sarah delivered an inspiring keynote speech focusing on Aviva’s creative actions in addressing their diversity and inclusion agenda. A full summary of the speech can be seen here.

It really was a great and insightful evening enjoyed by all and we look forward to the next HR Leaders Dinner later this year.

Happy 6th Birthday…

Audeliss 6th birthday
This month, Audeliss began its 7th year of trading. I can’t believe we’ve been operating for SIX years and how quickly that time has flown by.

From our beginnings in 2011, we have seen waves of rapid growth and success in spearheading diverse representation at the very top of businesses.

Here are some highlights from our sixth year in business:

A selection of our diverse appointments….

  • Non-Executive Director – BAME Female for a Building Society
  • Finance Director – BAME Male for a financial services institution
  • Chief Operating Officer – Female for an energy institution
  • HR Director – Trans* Female for an insurance business
  • VP Supply Chain – BAME Female for an engineering business

House of Lords Chairman’s dinner….

In February 2017, Audeliss were delighted to host a Chairman’s Dinner in the House of Lords held in partnership with The Rt Hon. the Baroness Prashar CBE. Following the recent Parker Review revelation that 53% of the FTSE lack a single non-white Board member, the event provided a rare opportunity for thought-provoking discussion on driving ethnic minority diversity at Board level.

Manjit Wolstenholme, Chairman at Provident Financial Group Plc spoke about her personal experience as an ethnic minority leader on a variety of Boards, and Baroness Prashar drew on invaluable insights from her 45-year career across the not-for-profit and public sectors to lead the conversation on driving diversity and inclusion.

Spreading the word….

I’ve been fortunate to speak on a range of panels, with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion, at events around the world including:

  • Tel Aviv – LGBTech
  • New York – celebration of OUTstanding and EMpower role models
  • Barcelona – Indeed.com
  • London – IICF, IFoA, Mercer

Unprecedented diversity initiatives….

This year, we launched the HERoes Champions of Women in Business Lists in partnership with the Financial Times, to celebrate female leaders and those driving gender equality in business. With a judging panel including Helena Morrissey, Founder of the 30% Club, Mellody Hobson, CEO of Ariel Investments and Chair of DreamWorks, Sir Philip Hampton, Chairman of GSK and Mark Wilson, Group CEO at Aviva, the inaugural lists will be published this September.

Expanding our team….

We have welcomed additions to our team in the form of Senior Researchers Louise Gore, Sarah Haynes and Lesley Payne and Client Development Manager Annette Kiely. Adding decades of expertise to our existing skills and experience enables Audeliss to expand its reach and spread our work across a variety of industries and functions.

One thing I know I’m guilty of as a CEO is not taking the time to reflect on our achievements, and maybe that’s my fear of failure and complacency, but I have to say I’m incredibly proud of Audeliss and the difference we’re making.  We’re determined to level the playing field for the top jobs in business for female, ethnic minority and LGBT+ candidates.

We would like to thank all of our fantastic clients and candidates in helping us continue to make the world more inclusive for everyone, one step at a time.

Unique Opportunity: Executive Assistant to Founder & CEO

Unique Opportunity: Executive Assistant to Founder & CEO

A unique opportunity has arisen for an Executive Assistant (EA) to closely support the Founder and CEO of two innovative organisations passionate about putting purpose before profit and creating a level playing field in the business world.  Audeliss is a boutique executive search firm specialising in senior diverse candidates and the second company leads three initiatives: OUTstanding, a professional membership organisation for LGBT+ business leaders and executive allies; EMpower, which champions the achievements of ethnic minority business leaders; and the HERoes Power Lists that celebrate female leaders and those working to support gender equality in business.


Are you:

  • Bright and enthusiastic with the proactive attitude to navigate a fast-paced environment?
  • A team-player with a can-do approach to all activities?
  • A skillful multi-tasker who thrives in a pressurised environment?
  • Highly organised with an excellent attention to detail?

We want to hear from you!

We are looking for an experienced and exceptional EA to provide 1:1 support primarily to the Founder and CEO of both Audeliss and OUTstanding, with additional office management and ad hoc support to the team. Teamwork and cultural fit are key to the role, and it is vital that the Executive Assistant shares and upholds our values and beliefs.

The core duties of the Executive Assistant comprise of:

  • Extensive diary management
  • Extensive client/candidate/member communication
  • First point of contact for the CEO
  • Assisting with candidate on-boarding
  • Office management
  • Basic bookkeeping / invoice processing
  • Preparing induction for new employees
  • Co-ordinate and manage multiple annual events
  • Ad-hoc duties including database administration, sales team support and completing personal tasks for the CEO

The Executive Assistant must possess:

  • Minimum of 5 years’ proven experience in a similar role
  • Experience of extensive diary management and senior level communication
  • Strong time management, planning and organisational skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and written and verbal communication skills
  • High attention to detail including proofreading, grammar and spelling
  • Experience of events management
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office including advanced Word & Excel skills
  • Recruitment industry experience is desirable
  • Experience with Xero accounting software would prove advantageous.

Get in touch with us to find out more – contact Suki Sandhu, Founder & CEO on 020 3405 6910 or ceo@audeliss.com. You can meet our current teams here and here.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Audeliss Team Strategy Day

Women’s History Month 2017 – The Need for Gender Equality In and Out of the Boardroom Remains Ever-Pressing

Women’s History Month 2017 gender equalityA week ago today, the world marked International Women’s Day 2017: a day for celebration of the economic, cultural and political achievements of women globally. But with gender equality a long way off, the focus on women’s rights and representations demands more than one day.

Although the past few years have seen many recent wins for women’s rights, including the Liberia election of Africa’s first female President, women receiving the right to vote in Saudi Arabia and the celebration of all that has been achieved in the 100 years marking the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement, gender equality in the workplace is still staggering far behind:

With March 2017 also commemorating Women’s History Month, the plethora of available data and the globalisation of our societies provide an ideal opportunity to examine and address the workplace inequalities experienced by women in every country. All UK organisations with over 250 employees will now be legally required to publish their gender pay data in an effort to accelerate the closure of the gender pay gap.

Last week saw the launch of the HERoes Champions of Women in Business initiative set up by our Founder and CEO in Audeliss, a power list dedicated to celebrating the leaders who have helped drive the female talent pipeline, elevating others during their rise through the ranks. The recognition of female role models across industries will help to give young women the visibility of what true success looks like, with the tools that will empower them to create their own opportunities.

We take gender diversity in business incredibly seriously and this is about creating a level playing field for minorities so they too get the chance to secure the top jobs in business.

To quote activist and youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, ‘We cannot succeed when half of us are held back’. With men and women across the world working together to stand up for human rights for all, we are already on the way to making our world a better and more inclusive place for everyone.



Diversity of Thought: Why Interim Managers are Key to Inclusion & Innovation

nterim Managers Thought Diversity Article Exec Grapevine Interim Guide Feb 2017

Diversity appears to be under-represented in the interim world – the Institute of Interim Management (IIM) reported that women make up just 28% of the interim managers surveyed in their 2014 annual report, with no recent statistics on other minority groups – however, the disappointing lack of diverse interim managers does not mean that interims cannot bring diversity to businesses. Conversely, interims are perfectly placed to instil the increasingly popular practice of diversity of thought.

Audeliss were interviewed by business publication Executive Grapevine on the host of benefits that interim managers can bring to diversity and inclusion across industries and sectors. Our article in the new Interim Management Guide 2017 outlines how to identify whether your organisation is at risk of stagnation and could benefit from diversity of thought, and how to achieve real diversity and inclusion with the help of interim management.

Follow the link below to read the full article:



#OscarsNotSoWhite – But Why does Diversity in Film Matter to Inclusion in Business?

Diversity in Hollywood and BusinessThis week’s Academy Awards caused its fair share of controversy, but also celebrated some fantastic wins for diverse talent in the entertainment industry, with female, BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic), LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Oscar winners including:

  • Moonlight, for Best Picture – A film with a unique take on masculinity in American culture, the film tells the story of a young black man struggling with poverty and his sexuality, and features an all-black cast
  • Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress – Her first Oscar, meaning she has made history by becoming the first black woman to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony for acting
  • Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor – He is the first Muslim actor to win an Academy Award in 89-year-history of the Oscars
  • Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi won Best Foreign-Language Film for The Salesman – a feat made even more significant in the wake of President Trump’s ban, which refused US entry to Syrian film-maker Khaled Khatib, whose documentary covering The White Helmets won an Oscar.

Zootopia, which won for Best Animated Feature Film, is also notable for its pro-diversity script – its narrative packs a powerful message about acceptance and inclusion, teaching children that difference is not a weakness, but a strength – and nominees for 2017 also included BAME actors Ruth Negga, Octavia Spencer, Naomie Harris and Dev Patel. Whilst the 2017 Oscars was the most diverse in history, the increased recognition of BAME talent in entertainment stands in stark contrast to the struggles for racial equality throughout the rest of America and indeed the world.

With ethnic minority talent representing only 4% of FTSE 100 CEOs, UK and US business is poised to learn a great deal on diversity and inclusion from the arts and entertainment sectors. The music industry is over-representative of ethnic minority talent, and as reported in a recent research study from Audeliss, 30% of ethnic minority role models work in the entertainment industry.

In a world where diverse people across the globe face prejudice and discrimination every day – where female and LGBT citizens are losing their rights under Trump and Putin, racial hate crime is soaring dramatically and unarmed black Americans are five times more likely than their white peers to be killed by the very establishment that is supposed to protect them – all positive representation is a cause for celebration, an opportunity for further progress and a chance for young diverse people to use role models to starting building their own success.

The 2017 Oscars serve as a powerful reminder that we are moving towards greater visibility and recognition, but that there still is a long way to go in achieving diversity and inclusion in business. The historic victory of Moonlight over La La Land – a story of finding love and acceptance by being your true self, triumphing over a narrative where the talented leads must sacrifice their relationship for their careers – proves that diverse or not we are stronger together, and that ultimately, love wins. By continuing to champion diverse role models from all backgrounds and career paths and by celebrating our differences, we are on the way to making our world a better and more inclusive place for everyone.


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