Last week our Connect community hosted an event, where in an engaging and insightful speech, our guest speaker, Sergio Panday, CEO of Roots Inspire, highlighted the spectrum of challenges that ethnically diverse talent faces in achieving corporate leadership roles. His talk delved into the negative consequences of a self-perpetuating cycle of talent loss due to a lack of representative role models, ultimately denying businesses and society of potential, creativity, and innovation. He was also joined by the inspiring Dr Rehana Sidat, Mentor at Roots Inspire to answer questions from the event attendees.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Representation matters: Seeing someone who looks like you at the top can help you visualise your own progression. Diversity attracts diversity
  2. Authenticity in the workplace: It’s crucial for talent to bring their whole selves to work, rather than leaving parts of their identity at the door to fit in
  3. Organisational commitment: Companies must put diversity on the agenda, understanding the true cost of not retaining diverse talent and the implications of underrepresentation
  4. Addressing systemic issues: Strategies are needed to overcome the intertwining of race and social class and the perpetuation of stereotypes
  5. Visible role models: Building visible cohorts of successful ethnically diverse leaders serves as positive examples for emerging talent
  6. Calling out prejudices: It’s essential to address the extra hurdles ethnic professionals often face in proving their worth compared to their white colleagues
  7. Focus on value, not quotas: The drive for ethnic talent is productivity and value, not filling quotas. Shifting focus from fairness to value can engage and develop talent more effectively
  8. Breaking the survival mode: Helping ethnic talent move from survival to flourishing involves enhancing confidence, enabling vulnerability, and empowering authenticity
  9. Impact of sponsorship: Visible sponsorship can significantly improve the progression and retention rates of ethnic talent, and companies investing in this are recognised as employers of choice
  10. Using metrics wisely: While quotas and metrics can help identify problems, it’s crucial to unpick the numbers and understand the root causes. Engaging with people at all levels of the organisation is essential
  11. Recruitment practices: Actions like having a diverse interview panel and showcasing company culture and diversity can increase offer acceptance from diverse talent


The session sparked engagement and discussion among the audience, underscoring the importance of this topic and the strong feelings it evokes.

These insights offer a roadmap for organisations to better support ethnically diverse talent in their journey to leadership, ultimately benefiting both business and society.

Roots Inspire is dedicated to training and mentoring ethnically diverse talent into leadership positions. If you recognise the value of advancing diversity within your organisation, consider sponsoring a candidate through the Roots Inspire programme. If you are interested, please reach out to Roots Inspire with the reference “Connect” to explore this opportunity. Should there be sufficient interest, we will enhance the experience with exclusive Connect member events for the cohort, reinforcing our commitment to building a supportive and inclusive network.

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