SocialTalent Live: Diversity, equity and inclusion – What we learned


Change is something which has defined 2020, both for better and worse. In this moment of flux, there’s an opportunity to have conversations about some of the most important aspects facing society. So in the spirit of this nebulous atmosphere grew SocialTalent Live – a series of digital events designed to bring these discussions to life. It seemed more than appropriate that our first one should centre on diversity, equity and inclusion. It is the defining issue facing industries at the moment.

With our line-up of keynote speakers, a world-leading industry panel and a hard-working team behind the scenes, we successfully brought the evening to fruition. Here are four of our key takeaways.

1. Allyship is a verb

Salma El-Wardany – “How to be an ally at work”

Salma’s presentation on allyship broke diversity down into a series of smaller moments and actions that everyone can do to foster a more inclusive workplace. She listed ten steps that create tangible change. What was inspiring to see was that so many of them require such little effort but can make a huge impact. From looking at how power is distributed in meetings and amplifying the voices of the underrepresented to being the person in the room who calls out inequality. It’s these small moments of solidarity that can be the most transformative. What underscored Salma’s truly insightful message for us, however, was this quote: ‘Allyship is a verb… it is a doing word and it has to happen over and over again so we form a habit.’ We couldn’t agree more.

2. The time for excuses is over

Dr. Joanna Abeyie, MBE – “What 2020 has taught me”

Joanna’s powerful recollections on what 2020 taught her proved to be an essential learning opportunity for everyone. She started by declaring that ‘the time for excuses is definitely over’ and you’d be hard pressed to think otherwise as her poignant presentation continued. She expanded on a myriad of important DEI issues, such as the need to feel uncomfortable to start having these conversations, accepting the existence of white privilege, and holding yourself accountable for micro-aggressions. Joanna implored us to be proactive rather than reactive in how we go about diversity and inclusion, stating that ‘persistence and consistency is the only way to be authentic.’

3. We shouldn’t have to justify representation

Torin Ellis – “Then and now: No shortcuts”

The energy and passion that Torin brings is second to none, and even a Zoom presentation could not dilute this! He began his talk with an empowered quote about honour before weaving a personal narrative from 2011 that sparked his own commitment to shifting the narrative on DEI. Raw and emotional, this story acted as a backdrop to his overarching thesis – we shouldn’t have to justify representation. Torin echoed Joanna’s sentiments that excuses have been made for too long and we need to get down to the business of being better humans.

4. Ensure intentionality

  • Aimee Meher-Homji (VP of Talent Acquisition, Sodexo)
  • Manjuri Sinha (Global Head of Talent Acquisition, OLX Group)
  • Jan Ackerman (Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, Oracle)
  • Elke Manjet (Global VP of TA, SAP)

Our panel of industry experts continued the discussion on DEI with considerable aplomb. As each panelist delved into their vast experience, the discussion ebbed and flowed over numerous key subjects. Manjuri spoke about the importance of budget behind DEI initiatives, referring to a lack thereof as merely lip-service. Aimee advised companies not to take the foot off the pedal. She urged them to address all aspects of DEI and not just those that are most visible. Elke spoke about the importance of integration and reiteration of the message in order to gain support. But it was Jan’s final call for ‘intentionality’ however, that seemed to tie all the threads together. Diversity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility and this is the message that needs to be articulated.

Joanne Abeyie got the final word of the day in at the end of the Q&A session, and what a powerful word it was – fragility. Before we can start having meaningful, productive conversations about DEI, we have to address our own fragilities and uncomfortableness. Everyone deserves a level playing field and to have a sense of self-worth. All of our speakers touched on this to some degree: we can all do better. We can all make space for those who have none. If SocialTalent Live taught us anything, it’s that DEI is absolutely the answer.

If you feel like you missed out, never fear! Click here and you can get access to a video of the event. Don’t forget to subscribe to the SocialTalent newsletter as well!