Series Eleven, Episode Two: The Perspectives of Discrimination and Representation

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This in-depth discussion focuses on the rise of the #StopAsianHate campaign and the United States Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, when President Biden signed the bipartisan Covid-19 hate crime legislation. Host Julia Streets is joined by Jeff Le, Vice President of Public Policy and External Affairs for Rhino from Washington D.C. and Nick Parker, Lawyer at Baker McKenzie from London. They thoughtfully navigate through the uncomfortable but long overdue conversation around discrimination against East Asians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the lack of representation from a corporate and personal perspective. They continue by addressing how stereotypical perceptions of the ‘model minority’ can deter career progression, and the importance of how changing the mindsets of managers and leaders can lead to positive change and inclusion.

Nick Parker

Nick Parker is a lawyer at Baker McKenzie (London), where he is a member of the firm's Ethnicity Steering Committee. Before joining Baker McKenzie, Nick spent his entire adult working life in China where he worked first as a teacher before becoming a journalist. Nick ended up leading a magazine in HK, where he primarily wrote about D&I in Asia. His writing on D&I has been published by the Economist.

Jeff Le

Jeff Le is Vice President of Public Policy and External Affairs for Rhino, a fintech start-up working to give renters everywhere greater financial freedom through affordable insurance options. Prior to joining Rhino, Jeff was U.S. State and Local Public Policy Lead for VMware, a digital technology and infrastructure company, and managed the company’s gubernatorial, state, county, and local relationships across all 50 states and Canada. Jeff focused on emerging technology policy, including privacy, 5G, broadband, cyber, sustainability, workforce development, diversity and inclusion, education, and IT modernization. He currently serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Committee for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services where he provides recommendations to the Governor's Homeland Security Advisor on response and policy pertaining to cyber, disasters, terrorism, drug interdiction, intelligence and other emerging threats.

Series Eleven, Episode Two Transcript

Julia: Hello, my name is Julia Streets, and welcome to DiverCity Podcast, talking about equality, inclusion, and diversity in financial services. On the podcast we seek to shine a light on positive progress, call out areas requiring further focus and offer lots of ideas to help drive change.

Before we get started today, I just wanted to take a moment to thank our friends at CityAM for their continued support of DiverCity Podcast, publishing and promoting both our episodes and our supporting blog series, so their readers can stay on top of the very latest D&I debate. You may want to check out CityAM’s own podcast, called The City View, for all the latest news and opinion from City, because we at DiverCity Podcast are huge fans.

In this season of DiverCity Podcast, we wanted to broaden our focus a little and bring more of an international flavour to our discussions, of course, reaching out to commentators from around the world, does present a few challenges. And due to some scheduling realities, in this episode, we depart from our usual format and bring two separate interviews with guests in different parts of the world. Today, I’m joined by Jeffrey Le from Washington DC and Nicholas Parker in London.

Let me tell you a bit about Jeff. Jeff Le has had a fantastic career, which covers many different directions. Firstly, he’s the Vice President of Public Policy and External Affairs for a business called Rhino. It’s a FinTech startup looking to give renters everywhere, greater financial freedom through affordable insurance options. But in addition to that, he has a prestigious career in the world of public policy. He served as Deputy Cabinet Secretary for California Governor, Jerry Brown, and there he oversaw Homeland Security and Natural Disaster Response. So think anything to do with civic events, trauma, and relating to that.

He’s also been thinking about the application of emerging technology, artificial intelligence, blockchain, the future of work, and so much more. He also worked at the State Department, the US House of Representatives and also, the United Nations to name, but a few. That’s quite a career. To get us started, Jeff, just tell me, what are you focused on right now?

Jeff: Well, thank you so much for having me. Right now, I just joined Rhino here in early April. So for me, frankly, it’s about better assessing and understanding the company’s strengths and the opportunities. Learning the product, frankly, is something new to the job. Here in FinTech, the exciting part is the details. I think like with many opportunities and technology, it’s about understanding where our strengths are from a personnel side.

Personnel is policy, certainly wanting to understand where we need to uplevel talent, understand where our markets are. and trying to have an external presence that is inclusive, representative, and allows for us to have honest, thoughtful conversations during a pandemic right now, where so many working families are suffering and right now, are being saved by a moratorium on evictions. But that will not be forever. Having this opportunity in a timely manner to support working families right now is priceless. That’s what’s on my mind right now.

As we’re with the Heritage Month here with May, trying to really educate, understand, provide resource to allies, other communities of colour, other advocates on really the importance of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in this month, understanding the challenges they’ve had in the recent year, year and a half of rapid increases in hate crime that you’re seeing in the news. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for the private sector and other leaders to come together to work on these issues.

Julia: That’s particularly what caught our eye and why we got in touch with you, because we saw your article in Politico, particularly talking about Asian hate crime. I wondered if you could just talk to us about the realities of Asian hate crime and what this has meant to you personally. Also to some wider context, for example, the realities of misogyny within that discussion.

Jeff: What this means to me, I think many new Americans, they view the American dream as the thing you come here for. My parents were both people from Vietnam, they were refugees. They came to the United States with nothing. Started a small business as landscapers and then later, became farmers. They run a free range organic chicken farm, salt of the earth people working 18-hour days and trying to find their role in society.

I think that the challenge with being a new American is facing discrimination, both that’s subversive and overt. And I think that for many Asian-American and Pacific Islander experiences, it’s about trying to not rock the boat, trying to be thankful for what you’re given, trying to accept that you have it way better than others. At the same time, the sense of being invisible and being erased, in that your experiences don’t matter.

That’s something you’re conditioned to understand. It’s something that’s not talked about, but everybody knows. And so for me, having the opportunity to write for Politico on April 3rd , to talk about my experience in politics specifically, was something that was deeply personal, but I felt no choice but to do so.

I think that one of the biggest challenges that Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders face in the United States is trying to deprogram from this sense of not speaking up. I think what you’re seeing now in light of significant hate crimes, which you thoughtfully highlight, has clearly disproportionately affected women.

Thinking from an intersectionality perspective, the misogyny among women and the recent reports is more than two thirds of these hate crimes are perpetrated acts of violence onto women. These are women of all ages, and I think most notably in the United States, senior women in their 60s, 70s and 80s being attacked randomly.

The thing is, it’s not random. It’s because increasingly people feel a sense that Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are less than them. They’re not citizens, they’re not from here. There is a little bit of dehumanisation. And I think that me at a personal level, seeing that in my day to day life in politics, where you have the sense, you have these prestigious internships in these places you work that you highlight, and it actually doesn’t matter that it’s arbitrary, it’s temporary and it’s based on other people allowing you to have that space. But as quickly as you can have it, it can go. I think for me, this Asian hate moment has been important because we need to do more to speak for yourselves, empower yourself, and frankly, the community as members need to bet on itself.

Julia: Once you were growing up, and I can’t imagine that there were many role models you looked up to as well, do you see that changing? Is this a clarion call to other role models to step forward and actually actively call out this behaviour?

Jeff: Well, I think you highlight a really important point. I’m sure in tech in general, where is the pipeline for mentorship and investment in people? Unfortunately, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, it isn’t just about mentorship. Mentorship is a big part of investing in young people, and I think that’s important for all businesses and other civic organisations and organisations as a whole.

But it’s also about sponsorship and allyship, and lending strength, because here’s the thing. You might have the shiny title, you might be able to be in the room, but do you actually get a say? And that is a very different conversation. That is up to your sponsors, your allies, your champions. And then it’s up to you to make the stand. Even if it means direct conflict, which again, in Asian-American and Pacific Islander culture, is complicated.

So much of the programming is, be respectful of elders, be respectful of seniors, be respectful of people in power. But that doesn’t mean erasing your beliefs, values, and having disagreements. That actually means more so to have an honest conversation. I think that the clarion call really is about allowing for yourself to be heard, to be listened to, and to be validated. Validating yourself being the most important part.

Julia: Organisations find this kind of conversation quite deeply uncomfortable. Let’s face it, we have to call it out for what it is. But as you described in your article, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s long overdue. I wonder where we should begin to drive change as organisations.

Jeff: Well, I think there’s a couple of key points here you can talk about for bringing people together and doing real things of substance. Beyond the DEI handbook or whatever statement on the website, but first and foremost, invest the money in people. Invest the money in the space for communities of colour and other traditionally marginalised communities, in the LGBTQ community, to have a conversation, to have programming, to have regular dialogue, access to the senior leadership.

That doesn’t cost that much. But gosh, it means a ton in terms of being heard, seen, valued, championed. Those are a couple of things you could do. I will say, put your money where your mouth is. Why don’t you align your hiring processes to your bonus? I think that would be a very interesting prospect that you could look at here. What I would tell leaders in this space here, the big thing of why should you be involved in doing this here, is groupthink is a killer.

I watched it in technology, in cybersecurity in particular. When you have everybody coming from the same place, with the same education, with the same background, you have the same blind spots here. That is not good for an organisation, especially one that’s supposed to be on the vanguard of innovation. The unique, special sauce is how different people are, because then you’re capturing a unique magic and power.

We should be embracing diversity in the workforce because at the end of the day, it’s uniqueness that is the magic talent. It’s what I told you earlier, if personnel is policy, strategy is important, but culture eats strategy for breakfast. This is something I would just highlight, and I’ll give you an example that I saw in cyber security.

When I was working at VMware, a digital infrastructure company, one of the things that we worked on in concert was with the Aspen Institute. We worked with a group of cybersecurity technology leaders to say, “Listen, we need to get rid of stupid requirements for cybersecurity jobs.” Number one, you’re not getting people in the roles, so you have these vacancies. Number two, it isn’t inclusive enough, so you’re eliminating quality people who can do the job, but maybe then don’t come from the fancy places or speak a certain way. We should be expanding opportunity, not limiting opportunity because of perceived risk factors.

Julia: Particularly, when you think about the world of cybersecurity, those who are trying to break down our defences and find our vulnerabilities don’t come from Ivy League schools necessarily. So it is incredibly important that we do find people who think very, very differently, and by the way, I’m not making a direct correlation between where people are educated and whether or not they become cyber criminals, but to illustrate the point, to magnify the point almost as well. I suppose my thought is, if you’re calling out to other leaders, what other advice might you give them?

Jeff: The other piece of advice I would give them, for starters, you highlighted education. Just because you have education doesn’t mean you have subject matter mastery in everything. Unfortunately, in the United States, we don’t do a good job highlighting Asian-American and Pacific Islander education and history curriculum. There is a growing movement in the United States for spotlighting Asian-American education.

Just recently, the state of Illinois passed legislation, enacting a curriculum on the subject, because so much about Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, they don’t even know the history of other communities. Just taking a step back, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders make up 5%, 6% of the United States, but they’re the fastest growing group in the United States. So there’s an incredible power that’s growing.

However, it is a very diverse group: 50 ethnicities, 100 languages. How do you get everyone on the same page? Well, you have to start with the basics of civic education and curriculum. I would say companies have an absolute obligation at the bare minimum here to bring in people and experts to talk about these issues, sociologically, anthropologically, historically. That is huge you could do.

I’m not talking about just a nice ethnic book club, but I am talking about a real serious investment in educating your workforce. Usually in tech, there’s a large Asian-American population who aren’t in leadership roles. I know you’ll allude to it, but the perception of Asian-Americans is that they are great worker bees. They work really hard, but they lack leadership presence, I know other groups have been told this, too.

So anything you can do, again, getting back to those original points of allyship, sponsorship, these companies need to be investing because culturally, this is a group of people that put their head down and don’t ask for things. But we have an obligation to unlock that talent, that ability, that belief in them, by encouraging these opportunities to spotlight them and push them forward.

Julia: You’ve used the expression quite a number of times about the model minority. Let’s just talk about some of the perceptions and some of the behaviours and actually, how that compares and contrasts with other ethnicity groups.

Jeff: The model minority lie is perpetuated for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, in our society, and I would say in the United States particularly, there’s this vision of what an Asian-American and Pacific Islander looks like. They look like a South Asian McKinsey consultant. They look like a East Asian business person.

But the vast reality is that in this large, diverse community of people, actually, if you look at the data really seriously, it will reveal that many other communities, I would say, especially the newest arrivals, newest Americans, so Vietnamese-Americans, Hmong-Americans, Lao-Americans, as examples, the key metrics that you see in terms of economic prosperity, access to education, health outcomes, access to healthcare, experiences in the criminal justice system are probably on par, if not worse, than other groups that you probably picture as being traditionally marginalised, or dealing with systemic racism, let’s say.

I think it’s just important. And this is something important for policymakers to do, is find a better way to capture this information so that you can tell the story and say, “Listen, in a group of 50 languages and 100 groups, this isn’t just the same, same.” You wouldn’t say the same about Europe. You wouldn’t just say that someone from Portugal has the same experience as someone from Bosnia.

I think it’s a similar dynamic in Asia. Given the circumference of the continent, when you are comparing Indians with Fijians, it is a different experience. I think it’s important to highlight here, and I will say this, I put a fine point on this, you have Asian-American and Pacific Islanders in the US that have lived in the United States longer than most European-Americans.

You have Chinese and Japanese Americans who’ve been here since 1850, building railroads, establishing places of commerce. So the fact that this group is seen as the other still, is rather shocking in 2021. And I think those are examples of the model minority part that we have to break. I will say, lastly, the reason why it is so powerful is that phrase and that terminology is used to point at Asian-American and Pacific Islander groups to say, “Look, why can’t you be like them?”

It creates a false lie and wedge for other groups, and the divide and conquer strategy is an effective one, and that perpetuates white supremacy and other structures of power that are fearful of losing their role in society. That’s part of the challenge you’re seeing today.

Julia: Jeff, as we navigate a tough economic time and we think about the economic downturn, I’m really keen to hear your thoughts about why diversity and inclusion must remain high on the corporate agenda.

Jeff: It’s an essential part of the agenda. I would argue that economic prosperity here, we’re at a place of an inflection point. So much of it is a question of, who gets to be a part of that? Who gets to be a part of this prosperity?

You’ve seen in the United States here, in the worst of COVID 19, a lot of everyday people suffered. You know who did really well? The historic tech companies, the juggernauts. The haves and have nots are growing, and I would say many of these companies have a responsibility and an obligation here to promote inclusiveness, even more so in their position of power.

One thing I would tell you in terms of the corporate agenda, and it’s a key part of how our society is moving, is companies have a unique amplification and microphone to be able to talk about policymaking to policy makers, particularly as it relates to fighting anti transgendered legislation you’re seeing across a multitude of US states.

We’re talking about trying to find better ways to combat hate crime, and actually fund it in a serious way. Talking about how to have more inclusive English language proficiency skills developed in multiple languages, so you can deliver a government service to real people. I would say most of all, and this is the big challenge heading into yet another election cycle, you’re seeing companies really fighting this trend of anti voting legislation, anti voting efforts to disenfranchise and de-democratise certain key groups.

This is something that I think people recognise in the corporate sector as unacceptable, as un-democratic, and un-American. And you will see a lot of inertia heading into the next midterm elections, where companies will be playing a key role in helping to shape and fight these major trends that we’re seeing.

Julia: I think these are wonderful points for leaders, enlightened leaders around the world, of whom many are listeners to the podcast, really take the time to think and to be aware of the reality. Jeff Le, it’s been wonderful to have you on the show. Thank you so much for calling in from Washington.

Jeff: The pleasure is all mine. Thank you, Julia.

Julia: I mentioned that this is a two-part episode. But before we get into our second guest, let me just remind you how you can find us. You can find all the research on all the episodes and all the commentary on our website, divercitypodcast.com. And don’t forget, that’s a divercity with a C, not with an S. Divercitypodcast.com. And you can sign up for early notifications of future recordings.

Please do follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and DiverCity Podcast is available on BrightTALK and all good podcast channels. And please do give us a rating. Currently, we are a five-star rated podcast, and we are grateful for everybody who’s been rating. It just means that more people can find out about the important debate. And of course, we thank our friends at City AM who not only publish, but also promote all our episodes and our regular blogs.

Our second guest today, I’m delighted to be joined by Nicholas or Nick Parker who provides his insights and perspectives from the UK, but also having worked in China. Nick Parker is a lawyer at Baker McKenzie in London, where he’s a member of the firm’s Ethnicity Steering Committee. Before joining Baker McKenzie, Nick spent his entire adult life working in China, where he worked first as a teacher, before becoming a journalist.

He ended up leading a magazine in Hong Kong, where he primarily wrote about a D&I in Asia. His writing on D&I, not surprisingly, has been widely reported most venerably in The Economist. Nick, it’s wonderful you could join us. Thanks for being with us today.

Nick: It’s lovely to be here, Julia.

Julia: Wonderful. I’ve been really looking forward to this conversation. Before we start, the question I always ask all our guests is, what are you focused on right now?

Nick: Right now, I’m focused on a couple of things, the first being, trying to repair my relationship with my own race. Growing up as a British-Asian, in an East Asian style household, you develop a mentality that’s all about keeping your head down and fitting in. And definitely, when I was growing up in the UK, there was a sense that I felt a bit like a broken white person.

Being a bit older, having spent time in China, I think it’s important to me personally, that I realign how I see myself and my relationship with my own race. In June, this year 2021, I’ll be hosting a discussion at my law firm, where we’ll talk about what it means to be a British-Asian. That’s number one.

Number two, being a junior Ethnic Minority Lawyer, statistically, I am much more likely than my white counterparts to leave the profession before I reach those leadership, senior positions. For me, personally, that’s something I’m desperate to avoid. I don’t want to become another sad statistic, so I’m working with a group of other junior lawyers at my law firm to launch a programme that’s aimed at kick-starting the development of those leadership and those senior level skills, to make sure that we are equipped and able to reach the higher levels of the profession.

Julia: You were talking about having corporate awareness, about integrating structures to support the talent pipeline. We’re big believers of the podcast that if you can see it, you can be it. I just wondered about in terms of role models as you were growing up, and also your view on role models, what impact do you believe they have?

Nick: Well, sadly, if you are British-East Asian, you don’t grow up with many role models. If you are black or South Asian or white, there are people who you can identify. There are people who are visible in the UK that you can identify with. If you are East Asian, we have Gok Wan and that’s basically it.

He’s amazing, but he can’t hold the hopes and dreams of East Asian diaspora on his shoulders. I think that there is a problem when it comes to East Asian visibility, and I think that that has two knock-on effects. Firstly, if you’re East Asian and you’re growing up in the UK, it sucks and you internalise this toxic message that you are not suited for leadership. You’re not suited for those visible roles.

Secondly, I think this feeds into the anti Asian attacks and aggression that we’ve seen recently in the US and in the UK. I think it creates an otherness in the minds of the British general public. If you’re viewing media and consuming media where you’re not seeing any East Asians, it’s quite easy to draw a line between us being British and them being East Asian.

Julia: In your opinion, thinking about not only your experience now working and living in London, but also from your international point of view, particularly, obviously thinking about your Chinese experience as well, do you think there’s an awareness that is changing? Are we seeing any positive change, or do we need to work harder at opening people’s eyes to what’s going on?

Nick: I think if you had asked me that question two or three years ago, I would have said, “Absolutely, things are better.” In my childhood, I can think of a variety of incidents where there was violence, frankly, against me, against my mum, against my sister, because of our race. I don’t know if that’s the case anymore.

I now live in genuine fear that my mum, who is in her late 50s, she’s going grey, she’s a small Asian woman. I live in genuine fear that I’ll get a phone call one day and find out that she’s been randomly attacked because of her race. That’s something that is new to me, and that’s something that I’ve never really felt before. I would say from a personal safety perspective, and I’m a relatively young man, I do feel not apprehensive, but I do feel it’s not impossible that something violent, something not just insidious and hidden and passive, an active racist event could happen to me. I do think that this, especially this past year, has changed things a lot, and in a sense, we’ve gone backwards.

Then thinking about there’s overt racism, there’s subversive racism, when we’re thinking about subversive racism in the UK, the stuff that lurks beneath the surface, I’m not sure that’s ever really gone away, especially when compared to my childhood, in the ’90s, early 2000s, I’ve had colleagues, close friends, partners, now ex partners, say between questionable and tasteless things about my race. It’s hurtful, and I truly have faith that they don’t mean it in a mean-spirited way. I still love these people. I’m still close to them. There is a lack of awareness. There’s a lack of appreciation that these sorts of comments are frankly, racist. They’re hurtful. There is someone at the end of them whose race is being weaponised against them.

In the UK, we had one of our biggest newspapers publish on its front page quite recently, that British people secretly enjoyed comments about slitty eyes. What does that say about how people view racism, racist comments, and racist attitudes towards East Asians in the UK?

Julia: We have a very mixed audience from around the world, which is fantastic. We have a real mix of not only diversity and inclusion specialists and executives, but also people who run businesses, P&Ls, and not only aspiring leaders of tomorrow and enlightened leaders of tomorrow, but also leaders who have been in the industry a long time. One of the things we think about is organisational structures to support employees, in the whole appetite of inclusion, diversity, and of course, we’re thinking particularly about inclusion. Within that, sits a question about psychological safety. Listening to you tell your story, there are some questions about institutional racism and remarks that could be coming through in organisations. But also, the reality of what goes through your mind every day, thinking about your family concerns as well.

When we think about what leaders can do to support, are there particular things that you’d recommend they should pay attention to, either in terms of their own mindset or indeed, how they lead their teams in this whole appetite to embrace diversity and inclusion? What should they be particularly doing?

Nick: Really what we’re talking about is international business leadership, and that is driven by a very Western mindset, just because of the history of the world. I think that there is a difference between how a Western organisation, British, American, European business sees success and identifies people for leadership, compared to an organisation in let’s say, China or East Asia.

In the West, I think we value dynamism, we value action, we value volume and the ability to capture attention. That works well a lot of the time. Sometimes it doesn’t. But in the East, the emphasis is on different skills. Success is measured by how hard you work, by the volume of your output as opposed to the volume of your voice.

I think that when you have people with an East Asian background, who grew up with this East Asian mindset, working in international organisations, it can be very easy for those international organisations and the leaders in those international organisations to look at people who work back in East Asia and think, “Okay, you are not equipped with the right skills to be a leader in my organisation.”

My message to leaders is this, same as for any other D&I group, you need to fundamentally understand with East Asians, that what makes you a great leader isn’t necessarily what would make an East Asian a great leader. And that it is a fallacy, it’s a trap that’s easy to fall into, whereby you hold yourself as the benchmark for success and the benchmark for leadership. I think it will make an organisation poorer if all leaders thought alike, and if the internal transition from employee to manager to leader was defined by what is fundamentally a Western set of values.

Julia: If I think of all the organisations, I think about the conversations I have in my business life, all the time, thinking about the opportunities that are opening up out into Asia, and I say Asia in its broadest sense, these are really salutary words. Thank you so much, Nick, for your thoughts on that, because there is a real risk that we go out imposing certain Western expectations and standards and leadership models that just aren’t necessarily fit for the market, which is incredibly important.

There is another flip side to this as well, which is thinking about, and I hear this mentioned a lot, the model minority, the very quiet or the expectation that has been put upon individuals to remain quiet, be grateful, and to get their head down and don’t cause any fuss. I hear this a lot.

I’d love to hear your thoughts from your other point of view, we’ve talked about leaders, but now let’s talk about individuals, is what advice would you give rising talent in the industry to have the confidence to challenge some of those remarks, and to find their voice and their contribution?

Nick: It’s a difficult one, because you’re asking East Asians, especially First Gen/Second Gen East Asians, to override a bit of cultural hard wiring. The instinct is to not rock the boat. The instinct is to not be direct, if you have a problem. The instinct is to not contradict your boss, or to present an idea which is unorthodox.

But we have to be. We have to be louder. We have to show that we’re capable of leading. We have to show that we’re capable of having our faces on screen. We have to show that we’re capable of going into politics, running businesses that aren’t just restaurants or dry cleaners.

I’m optimistic because I know at least British-Asians of my generation, are much more racially conscious, are much more aware of what they need to do and definitely, the generation that comes after me is very switched on to this. So I’m optimistic that together, we’re building a voice.

I think the Stop Asian Hate movement, which I think is predominantly US-driven, but I think is filtering over here to the UK, I think things like that are a stepping stone towards a wider East Asian consciousness and a better sense of the East Asian identity.

Julia: Nick, it’s been a fantastic conversation, because in a very short period of time, we’ve really thought about leadership models, organisational models, individual points of view as well. As we look ahead a little, and this is a question I’m asking all our guests, we’re going into arguably very tough economic times. We’re expecting, depending upon who you listen to, a bit of a bounce back. But who knows?? And I think there’s a real risk that diversity and inclusion could fall down the corporate agenda. I’d love to hear your thoughts as in the final question, about why you think this conversation about diversity and inclusion really matters high on the corporate agenda.

Nick: Well, it’s important to me because I don’t want to fall through the cracks. I don’t want to be another ethnic minority who leaves my profession early. I think that if you’re a leader in any sector, any industry, if you take your eye off the ball, people like me are going to fall through the cracks. So much of what makes a successful career is momentum. You’re a junior, you get put on an interesting bit of work. You do a good job, you level up.

Then it repeats and repeats, repeats and repeats. If you are taking your eye off D&I and you’re not being conscious about giving opportunities, not just to East Asians, to women, people in the LGBT community, people who are neurodiverse, you’re going to stop that snowball before it can pick up speed. In 5/10 years time, those people, you’re going to see them as not able to take on those leadership positions, take on those big challenges, and your organisation will be poorer for it.

Julia: Nick Parker from Baker McKenzie. It’s really great to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Nick: Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.

Julia: To all our listeners, thank you for joining us today. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from both Jeff Le in Washington and Nick Parker in London. I’ve really enjoyed the discussions. Do tune in  again for future episodes. And we will, in this season, be hearing from other speakers from around the world. And of course, do sign up for all our future notifications. I’ve been Julia Streets. Thanks for joining us.

Kieron: This episode of DiverCity Podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. 

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