BOOSTING OPPORTUNITIES FOR UNDER- REPRESENTED TALENT
MOBOLISE aims to help reverse inequalitiesand showcase the skills and passion of those within the black community , writes MOBO ’ s founder Kanya King .
grew up surrounded by many talented creatives
I who were frustrated by the lack of awareness and opportunities out there , particularly for those from black and ethnic minority backgrounds . I recognised a particular void in the music industry , which instilled in me a drive to empower others to realise their potential . So , in 1996 , I launched MOBO – and since then , we have discovered and supported talent in music , film and TV .
MOBO is built on the idea that creativity is a powerful expression of identity , capable of transcending racial and cultural divides . It ’ s an effective tool , not only for social activism , but also for business success . And it has huge impact on increasing profit and influencing diversity of thinking within companies , meeting the needs of employees and consumers , today and in the future .
In recent years , I ’ ve been so proud to see how MOBO ’ s work has driven change within film , theatre and the media , and we wanted to build on this positivity and create a way to expand that into the wider business world . So , in 2020 , we introduced MOBOLISE , an online platform to connect under-represented talent to organisations .
By offering the chance for people of all ages to network with leaders and employees from different industries , and gain mentorship , boost confidence , find vacancies and showcase skills , we hope that MOBOLISE will do for the world of work what MOBO has done , and continues to do , for the music , film and TV industry .
MOBOLISE will do for the world of work what MOBO has done , and continues to do , for the music , film and TV industry
It aims to meet both the growing demand for new jobs expected in 2021 and the changing future of work and the skills that will be needed . We want talent to connect , learn and grow from other individuals .
Creating hard-to-come-by opportunities
If you come from a disadvantaged background , or you don ’ t live in a city and so cannot access a network easily , it ’ s very difficult to get into ‘ aspirational ’ companies because many of them focus too much on educational qualifications or an ‘ elite ’ background .
I ’ ve seen these difficulties first-hand and know there will be a whole generation of talent being wasted who have the drive , determination and passion to succeed . Black talent may not be inclined to enter the creative and tech industries due to lack of connections ; they don ’ t have the same access to opportunities as many Caucasian candidates due to bias in the hiring process and practices . There is also a lack of role models who look like them and to whom they can relate .
These barriers combined were the driving force for us creating a platform such as MOBOLISE , which has the potential to be transformative because we also provide mentors . It ’ s not just about putting talent into organisations , it ’ s about providing the support network people need to survive and , more importantly , thrive .
We developed the platform in conjunction with Accenture , with the aim of reversing inequalities and showcasing the skills of those within the black community who have the passion and ability to work for big businesses in these influential sectors . Elitism and lack of connections could mean many of these people just wouldn ’ t be able to consider sectors like these .
A culture for minorities , not just majorities
I find it unacceptable to see the level of under-representation of black talent in the tech and creative sectors , when these are industries that are shaping the world . In 2020 , the world woke up to the scale of injustice black people face in society , and we have seen many positive strides from those who want to make a difference . But we need advocates and allies who are prepared to take action at all times — not just when it ’ s in the news — to ensure this is front of mind .
I ’ ve seen these difficulties first-hand and know there will be a whole generation of talent being wasted who have the drive , determination and passion to succeed
Sadly , many companies have created a working environment that provides incentives based on a majority culture , which often means minorities feel unable to be their true selves . When you are the ‘ other ’ in an organisation , it is a very lonely and isolating place .
Ultimately , the business case for increasing diversity is out there ; studies show that more diverse , gender-balanced teams outperform those which are less diverse . It is great for the bottom line , including increasing shareholder value . So , this is not a societal argument , it ’ s a commercial one .
I ’ m aware there ’ s no silver bullet , but organisations need to set clear goals , scrutinise their existing data and compare it over time . Efforts must be ongoing . You can increase accountability and transparency around these issues , which is what the new generation of talent expects . Doing or saying nothing reflects a lot about what organisations stand for and their values .
Make it easier for everyone to be involved
Something I know is so important is that people in the everyday workplace need to ensure their companies are inclusive places for all kinds of people to both work in and belong in . While no company is perfect , employers can make a big difference by making sure they take the steps necessary to be transparent , take an inventory of where they ’ re at and know what steps need to be taken next .
I would encourage all leaders to engage with internal and external networks and platforms to ensure minorities in the business are being listened to and can contribute to the decision-making process . Networks can also provide a platform to prompt difficult conversations , which many organisations have not had until this year .
I find it unacceptable to see the level of under-representation of black talent in the tech and creative sectors , when these are industries that are shaping the world
The challenges of 2020 included a lot of talk about the future of work following the pandemic . With the rise in remote working , there ’ s a new kind of digital economy that ’ s inevitable now . As sectors move on to invest in a new kind of human capital in the coming years , it ’ s important for organisations to consider where the opportunities will be , what skills they will require , and how they can prepare for these new areas of demand .
The world needs to focus on this new decade of opportunity , driven by an ideas economy and powered by untapped diversity of thinking . I and everyone involved with MOBOLISE hope that it is the catalyst for much-needed change .
Kanya King CBE is CEO and founder of MOBO , a globally respected brand that engages with business and political leaders and allies with cultural icons and creative visionaries . The MOBO organisation has established itself as a champion of diversity , inclusion and recognition for BME talent within music , culture , arts , fashion , media and larger society .
• A version of this article first appeared in issue 8 of Catalyst magazine , published for AMS by Future Talent Learning .