Series Ten, Episode Six: Representation and Recognition of the ‘Model Minority’

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In light of the recent #StopAsianHate campaign, this in-depth discussion focuses on East Asian visibility and representation within financial services. Host Julia Streets is joined by Millie Gillon, the Global Head of Client Experience, MD Retail Banking, Standard Chartered and Sun-Hee Park, an International Capital Markets lawyer and founder of the East Asian Lawyers Organisation. They unravel the pejorative and appropriate ethnographic language and definitions of the East Asian community worldwide, and the theory and practice around role models and representation. The discussion moves on to the psychological safety of groups, networks and forums, such as the East Asian Lawyers Organisation, and the portrayal of East Asians as the invisible or ‘model minority’.

Sun-Hee Park

Sun-Hee Park is an international capital markets lawyer with over 20 years of experience gained in private practice and in-house. She is a passionate advocate of social justice. Growing up around the world Sun-Hee has seen and experienced the discrimination faced by different communities precisely for their differences. She is the founder of the East Asia Lawyers Organisation

Millie Gillon

Millie Gillon is a native New Yorker and Singapore transplant who has a wealth of knowledge about innovation and strategy, and combines this with the use of data and design thinking to reshape the client experience and innovation. Millie is currently the Global Head of Client Experience at Standard Chartered Bank. Prior to joining Standard Chartered, she led co-innovation for Citi and American Airlines at Mastercard. Millie has held senior product and innovation roles at Prudential Financial, JPMorgan Chase and American Express, where she concurrently earned her Masters in Communications and Leadership Studies and her Six Sigma Black Belt.

Series Ten, Episode Six 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 City AM’s own podcast called the city view for all the latest news and opinion for the city, because we at DiverCity Podcast are huge fans.

Today I’m joined by Sun-Hee Park and Millie Gillon. Sun-Hee Park is an international capital market’s lawyer with over 20 years of experience gained in private practice and in-house. She’s a passionate advocate of social justice and has grown up around the world where she has seen and experienced the discrimination faced by different communities precisely for their differences. She is the founder of the East Asian Lawyer’s Organisation, which could be found at eastasianlawyers.org. Sun-Hee, welcome to the show, great to have you here today.

Sun-Hee: Thank you. Great to be here.

Julia: Now, joining Sun-Hee is Millie Gillon the global head of client experience at Standard Chartered. She is a native New Yorker and describes herself as a Singapore transplant. She has a wealth of knowledge around innovation and strategy, and combines this with the use of data and design thinking to reshape the client’s experience, and also drive innovation. She has held similar roles at many of the leading financial institutions around the world. “I was born and raised in New York City to Chinese parents”, So she describes herself as first generation ABC, American Born Chinese. Millie, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you on today.

Millie: Thank you for having me, it’s great to be here.

Julia: So I think really looking forward to this discussion and Sun-Hee, let me come to you first of all, what are you focused on?

Sun-Hee: In a couple of words? Fair representation. So for me, I grew up as a diplomat’s child. This is why I grew up around the world went to schools around the world and for me, skin colour didn’t mean anything. But what I was really slow to realise was that actually to other people in matters. And this came as quite a shock to me, which is why I never looked around for signs of discrimination. And it’s only in the last few years, that I’ve become involved in the diversity and inclusion space, precisely because I realise that now that I’ve worked in the city for almost a quarter of a century. At my level, there is no one who looks like me and we all know the importance of representation.

Julia: I say, we talk a lot about if you can see it, You can be it and we’ll certainly get into the questions around why, and why we must focus as we go through the discussion as well. Millie, let me come to you as well. We’re talking to you, you’re currently in Singapore. I understand. So tell me, what’s your focus right now?

Millie: Aside from trying to assimilate to the culture, I’m actually really focused on financial inclusion as well as gender inclusion. And that’s both internal as well as external, not just the typical way of saying yes, we want to help people who are less fortunate economically, but we also want to see how we can make a true, valuable, positive difference in this world. That may be through a number of different ways, especially now with the pandemic going on.

Julia: Yes, and it feels like now is a moment of change. And I’m always quite optimistic around points of change because I think they tip the balance and they throw up great opportunity. But also there’s always a flip side, which is of what must we be cautious as well. So as this is, we’ll know, we’re very committed on the podcast to talk about the subject of race, but we have to hold our hands up or recognise that mostly this has been from a black perspective or South Asian perspective. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned is that it’s really easy or arguably lazy to use labels and labelling can be quite deeply concerning, and in some cases, just utterly inappropriate as well. Sun-Hee, I know this is something that you think about very, very deeply. And I know you’re keen to talk about language and clarify some of the definitions and descriptions that are used when we talk about East Asian communities as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sun-Hee: I’m kind of cheating here because sure, I’m not looking at the global perspective in terms of the percentage of the racial numbers across the globe. I’m looking at the numbers here in Britain, because this is where I’m based. So for me, East Asian is a term that I’ve made up to include all Asians who do not consider themselves to be South Asians. Because for me, again, it took me a while to realise that when people in this country in Britain talk about Asians, I didn’t realise they were talking about all Asians. So South Asian, South East Asians, East Asians, they were specifically actually only talking about South Asians, which was a bit of a surprise to me because I would do a lot of American schools and I have American friends. So if you say somebody’s Asian in the States, for example, you are talking about an Asian like me, not somebody with Indian heritage, for example.

Again, this is why it’s been a learning experience for me to get familiar with the language and what it is that we need to use in this country. Now, there aren’t enough of us for me to say, okay, I’m East Asian from North East Asia and you’re South East Asian, no, I mean, because South Asian is a recognised term, I’m kind of using East Asians as a short-hand term to be inclusive Of everyone who is not South East Asian.

Julia: Can you just put a paint of a bit, bit of a map, almost like a little bit of geographical definition around those different territories you were just describing.

Sun-Hee: South Asian, I think people understand it to be people from the Indian sub continent, people with, Indian, Bangladeshi heritage. If you’re talking about East Asian technically, I think people understand that to be people from China, Korea and Japan. South East Asia will be Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, those kinds of countries, which is why, like I said, looking at the demographic in Britain, we don’t have a sufficient number of non South Asians to actually distinguish and split in the language, which is why I think, the simpler way of going about it is to call anybody who’s not South East Asian.

Julia: That’s really helpful. That’s enormously helpful because I know that there’ll be some listeners going, what is it? So, and as you say, we look at it, we have listeners all over the world. And for some listeners, this may feel like a very basic level of conversation. However, for others, it is enormously enlightening. So thank you. Thank you for your thoughts on that as well. Millie, as we’ve talked to you now, as I said to you, you’re based in Singapore. So love your thoughts around that are your experiences similar?

Millie: Yes believe it or not. So, growing up in the U S, I never really recognised people as different colours, different ethnicities. I just recognise them as human, just like me and I never, growing up there as a child, I did not quite understand why I was treated differently. But, the way I treated others, and even today as an adult, I don’t recognise people by colour. Even if I’m looking at you, I just don’t notice it at all. I notice the person for who they are, their character. It doesn’t matter what colour or what shape their eyes are or any other physical descriptors to me and I think that it’s something that we need to educate more-so, but I am so lucky because I grew up in New York City, very different from the rest of the U S in the sense that it was just natural for me to walk around like that. But now that I’m in Singapore, I recognise that there’s so many different types of Asians. And with that, there are so many different types of stereotypes, even within the broader Asian community, or maybe it’s the sub communities.

Julia: And these are deeply nuanced to where we think about, and to some degree caste systems in other societal systems, and also race systems as well, and it is very interesting. It is fascinating isn’t it, that there are some cities in the world where actually the multiculturalism that many cities thrive on and actually really embrace, don’t see the definitions or the discrimination’s at all. And yet in other cities also hoping to be international in their flavour, it’s a bigger issue, which is really fascinating. But I am always deeply concerned about the overuse and in fact “the” use, frankly, of the expression, “BAME”. It is a label that has been put right away across so many communities or that I almost kind of feel it’s quite insulting in many ways. And Sun-Hee, if I look back to last August, so August 2020, there was actually a hashtag a “BAME over” campaign, which published a guide to set out some of these definitions as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts about, the value of initiatives like these.

Sun-Hee: I am in complete admiration of anybody who tries to run a campaign, and it’s a fantastic campaign because, exactly to Millie’s point, who doesn’t want to be treated as an individual. That is the ultimate that we’re trying to achieve. But from my perspective, on a practical level, we’re nowhere even near at the stage where we’re discussing the differences between the different races and ethnicities There is a discrimination going on based on gender, race, ethnicity, across the board. For me, it’s like building a house. And instead of talking about where the structural walls are going to go, we’re already at the stage of picking out what colour mugs we’re going to have for the kitchen. This is so far down the line from where we are right now. So although I admire the purpose of the “BAME over” campaign, I’m not sure whether we have the basics to actually be discussing that at this stage.

I want more representation across the board. So if you look at, for example, in particular for me, I’ve looked around sure. All people of colour, face discrimination, which is why, if you look at the numbers of people who are visible in British society, you don’t really see that many people of colour. But in particular, I think East Asians are absent. So not to particularly put you guys on the spot, but if you think about it, how many East Asians can you name in British society who are visible in the public eye, who are doing things, whether in the arena of politics and finance, in my particular field in law. In academia, we’re supposed to get the good grades. So you would think that we should be littered with East Asians in academia, not even in academia, in the media, there’s no presence for East Asians. So we’re not getting the basic straight. This is a conversation that’s nice to have, but right now it’s not a necessity for me.

Julia: Very shortly, we’re going to get into, so how do we drive the theory is one thing, the practises are the other, and some thoughts about practical things that we could be doing to drive that change as well. Before we do that, just keen to hear Millie’s point of view as well, sort of thinking about the “BAME over” campaign, thinking about some of the labels that are put on community groups.

Millie: I wish that we had this in the U S, especially when I was growing up, because even today, we are not even recognised. It’s really still just a black and white world. It’s not necessarily recognised that anyone who is off white, if you will, no offence, that we’re considered a minority or we’re considered a person of colour. And to the earlier point, actually I did not grow up with role models that looked like me. And I didn’t realise until I was an adult that actually mattered, that actually impacts kids negatively. In a sense of you have an identity crisis, and you as very basic as you don’t believe, you’re beautiful because you don’t look like the Barbie dolls. You don’t look like the dolls that are sold. And actually as a mother of young children, what I ended up doing was I looked all around the world literally to find dolls that looked like my babies and my children they’re not a hundred percent East Asian, so that made it even more challenging, but it was so important to me to recognise they need role models.

Even if, the role model starts with just as something as small as a doll that looks like them. And now they’re just so proud and constantly saying, I am pretty not necessarily to be in the vain sense, but more so of just being validated, I’m human, I exist, I matter. And they show off their doll saying, look, this is a little, and they use their name doll, this is a little blank doll. And they’re just so proud of that. And I truly wish that we had this earlier. I wish I had this as a child, but I recognise now the impact of just being recognised. And I think that’s really the purpose or the initial purpose of BAME.

Julia: That’s fantastic. So, let’s get into some of the theory versus the practise. It’s very easy to talk about how we wish that everybody was recognised for who they are rather than the colour of their skin or how they represent, or their ethnic minority background, or however that is. I’d like to talk about the importance of diversity in terms of theory versus practise. And let’s bring it back to a really practical commercial point of view. Now, I mentioned in my opening remarks that you wake up every day thinking about data and thinking about design as well. There’s a lot of discussion, rightly so about the need for diversity in data and concern about biases as well. So how do you bring diversity and embed it in to your team’s work so that you do get the best client experience, which I know is your focus.

Millie: So starting with just the makeup of my team, I am really solely focused on the people, on who they are as people. Do they truly care, because quite honestly, in financial services, I believe that our role is to make a positive difference. And if we make money on the side, great. But I think first and foremost, and I really want to make sure that we have that type of diversity in the thought. We have that type of diversity in our hearts and in our goals. And then specifically from the client’s perspective, how do we diversify their views, especially when it comes into design. So whenever we start off with any initiative, big or small, when it comes to designing or revamping solutions, then what we do is start out with research and we absolutely go out of our way to make sure there is diversity. Diversity of the people that we go out and we seek information of.

And then most importantly, and I think that this is pretty new because it comes along with design thinking. And although that’s not technically new, it’s now just becoming much more popular. So what we do is use a lot of ethnographic types of interview styles. And what we do is not just ask a simple yes/no question or scratching the surface type of question, but we dig really, really deep into the psychographics of our target clients. And we really try to understand what are their motivations, what did they go through in their lives to get them to this point where they are now, and how does that impact their decision? How does that impact our decision in terms of how do we create our services, our solutions, as an example, how do we create our method of personalization? Another data point that we actually seek, we started this out.

It’s definitely not anywhere close to finished, but for example, in China, each generation goes through something major and that major event impacts their thought process, their motivations, and actually their buying decisions, whether it’s buying decisions on consumer products or buying decisions on financial services. And what we started to do was really dig deep into, how do these macro environmental factors impact each person? And of course, that’s only for specifically China, but then of course, there’s all of these other countries and Standard Chartered is obviously a part of many different communities in the world. So taking into those nuances and those factors, into a broader perspective of how do we globalise some of our solutions, and then bringing it to each of the communities that we’re a part of and localising it and making sure it’s represented.

Julia: And of course, every bank that I talk to, and I think of all the senior level discussions I have on main stages at events in my hosting life, everybody’s talking about customer centric design, customer centric products, and that’s just an incredible example of the degree of granularity that goes into the thinking, but also how that changes over time and over generations as well, really, really fascinating as well. Sun-Hee, I’m really keen to hear about your representation of East Asians in financial services. So I know you’ve got the organisation for lawyers. Looking at the industry as a whole as well. I’m very keen to hear about the organisation and what you’re doing there, and also how did it all start and how does diversity and inclusion fit in within the financial services sector from your experience?

Sun-Hee: So the East Asian Lawyer’s Organisation ELO was set up, I set it up in 2019 because like I said, I was slow on the uptake when it came to the lack of representation, especially at the senior levels in the city, which is where I work. And so I was thinking about doing this at some point down the line, but when I spoke to people, other East Asians saying, I’m thinking about setting up something like this, shall I go out and do it? Everybody was so supportive, and so instead of launching in 2020, which was the original idea, I just happened to launch it in 2019 and thank goodness, because I don’t think something like this can get off the ground so easily if you do it as a virtual launch. So it means we have a chance to actually meet up face to face.

So we meet monthly, so we used to meet in person, now, since I think April or May 2022, we’ve been meeting virtually and we have either speakers or raging discussions and in fact the last meeting that we had, we discussed precisely the term “BAME”, whether that was adequate. And again, we’re not all the same. We all have the whole range of views when it comes to whether we agree with the term “BAME” or not. And one of the things that I threw out in there is, for example, in terms of describing East Asians, would you call somebody yellow?

Now, I’m going to let that hang a little bit. Because when I first heard somebody say, I am small and yellow, which was in a collection of essays called the good immigrant, I was shocked because this is not something that you normally hear. Because, unlike people describing themselves as being white or brown or black, there is a pejorative sense to the term yellow, which is why I think there’s a reluctance for people to use that term, but as somebody, one of my ELO members pointed out when we were having this raging discussion, yellow anthropologically is an accurate term to describe East Asians, but there are negative connotations attached to it, which is why it’s not normally used. But then again, looking at the inclusiveness of language now on the news, you frequently hear something like, brown and black communities are disproportionately affected by COVID. Is that meant to include East Asians. I don’t know.

Julia: It’s a really, really interesting question and it’ll be interesting also to see how that evolves over time as different generations feel comfortable or less comfortable with certain language as well. Can I ask you a follow-up question, which is, to what degree is the discussion that’s happening in your organisation also being fed back into your members organisations, their firms as well?

Sun-Hee: Yes. I believe that they are trying, Right now the membership is as the name suggests there aren’t many of us. So the purpose of the group is not to grow the membership like some other organisations, there’s a truthful purpose to ELO. The first one is internal. So to provide psychological safety for people who look like us, where we can go and have a chat, have a very open conversation that you can never have with other people, because they don’t have the same experience. They may be shocked by some of the things that, we as a group may have experienced.

And this is like an example that I use quite often as well. When I was a junior lawyer, there was an office party and one of the most senior members of the organisation, I think he was slightly drunk, but he leaned across to me, conspiratorially, I thought he was going to give me a piece of juicy gossip so I was very excited, but all he said to me was, he leaned across, and then he said, I’m so glad that there was just one of you here because I really find it difficult to tell you people apart.

So it took me a while to process that comment, because how do you react to that? It depends on the guy’s intention. Did he mean it as an insult because it sounded like a compliment, but then what do you do with that? So that was the kind of psychological safety that I wanted to provide for people to share similar experiences. So that was the first purpose. The second pillar of ELO is the outward looking fit where we want to show that we exist as well. In the States, we’re cool, the model minority, because we are prone to following the rules, we’re not in the news, we don’t do anything. We keep our heads down and that’s how we’ve been raised either culturally or societaly.

This is how we’re expected to behave. And a lot of the times I would say that we can that we confirm to it, but by virtue of that, we’re also the invisible minority too, so that goes to the second pillar of forming ELO. So that we shout out to the world that we exist too and this, I think has had a positive impact for my members to go to their organisations to say, Hey, you’re lacking in East Asian representation in our organisation.

Julia: And it’s interesting listening to you talk because we’re on a zoom call while we’re talking, I know this is audio only, but it just means that I can kind of gauge reactions and it’s fascinating listening to some of your stories, and actually the only thing to do is let it hang as long as you say, because the response almost feels inappropriate If I was to comment. Millie, I do want to just open up this to see whether you were nodding while Sun-Hee was talking as well. Just any thoughts from you?

Millie: I have so many thoughts, but I’ll try to just keep it very brief. So the first one is on your point about COVID. Firstly, I spent my younger childhood surrounded by Caucasians. I was the only non-Caucasian person. And so your point of view of COVID, it impacts brown and black people more so than Caucasians. When I read that and even up until right before you said that, I identified with Caucasian and I thought that I was safer, I didn’t realise it. And then the other piece around being the only Asian in the room, I completely agreed with you. That is, what my experience was like, but I want you to think about this from a different perspective, because you know how children, they don’t necessarily have the same barriers that we do. So my older child, by the time that she entered first grade, we had moved to a neighbourhood where essentially everyone was Caucasian.

All of her classmates were Caucasian. Of course there were pockets here and there of non-Caucasian. And they had an end of year sing along and I went there and when the students came on stage, I stood up just to make sure my daughter could see me. And then at some point later on, maybe it was weeks or months later on, I mentioned you’re the only non Caucasian person here and my daughter said, I actually really liked that a lot. I value that. I’m like, why, what do you mean? How is that a positive when I’m thinking it’s such a negative, because people are staring at me thinking I’m not from that place. And following me around in stores, actually my daughter said, I love it because whenever we’re at school, I can always, or any big crowd. I can always identify you.

For example, when I was on stage and you stood up, I could see you across this entire crowd of hundreds of parents and I knew that you were there, I knew where to find you. I know if I’m ever lost how to find you. So of course, I completely agree with you in terms of an adult perspective. At the same time, let’s try to cool down a bit and think of the child’s perspective. It’s always so much easier to smile and laugh about it.

Julia: It’s interesting from the eyes of youth. It’s a different perspective completely, isn’t it? It’s fantastic. It’s wonderful hearing your stories. I was really keen to allow time for all of the discussion around this, because it’s about personal experience that makes this really real. When people say, why does this conversation matter? Those are the reasons why it matters as much as it is about senior representation about driving change and driving data and, and also achieving all the commercial performance you could possibly get. This is why it’s because it’s about human beings and organisations. So what I’m really keen to talk about now is I’m worried in some ways that as a world is shifting, is that we might be missing some opportunities. Everybody’s working remotely, business models are changing, the conversation around diversity and inclusion might be shifting and this, I’d love to hear, what are we at risk of missing out on in terms of an opportunity and, and where do you think we should focus next? And Millie let’s stay with you on this question. I’d love your thoughts on this.

Millie: I think that one area that we absolutely must pay attention to is being a parent, regardless of gender, regardless of ethnicity. Being a parent and working from home and knowing that our colleagues, they now no longer have one day job, they have to be an employee, they have to be a parent, they have to be a teacher, they have to be a caretaker. And it is important for us to recognise this and ensure that we over-manage ourselves when it comes time for either, performance evaluation or it comes time for headcount decisions. And the other thing is around nature versus nurture. I think that with ethnicity, it is so easy to default, just naturally human, no judgement to anyone. I think it’s just naturally easy to default to automatically creating judgements and assigning stereotypes on others, just on what we see. And I did not recognise this as much to the degree that I do now until I moved over to Singapore.

People treat me as if I am Asian and I act like I’m Western. And I think that just being an Asian might make me steer more towards acting Western, and then they’re all confused. And then I’m all confused in terms of, well, what am I supposed to say or do? And they’re like, how could you say something like that? Or how could you do something like that? And it’s kind of like being in a schizophrenic type of scenario. So I think just recognising it’s not just a one dimensional person that you’re interacting with.

And then the other piece is that, and I constantly try to remind myself and remind others that when we call out behaviours, it’s not to judge people, It’s not to shame people at all. It’s to help them, It’s out of care, It’s out of, I don’t want anything to happen to you, or I want to help you to evolve and I want you to help me too, to evolve. And I think as long as we start to get used to that type of thought process, that it’s a good intent. It’s a lot easier said than done. But I think if we do, then I think we would just embrace differences and change and we can embrace each other much more easily, that it’s not because we’re trying to shame you or judge you or hold you responsible for anything in the past. But how can we pivot forward?

Julia: I think it’s fascinating because we talk a lot about corporate culture and people say we need to have call-out cultures. And it’s like, yes, but there is a negative side to that. It’s more about a feedback culture. I’ll be able to have the honesty of conversation just to go to see the reason I’m raising this is because it matters. And I want to be able to have a conversation to make me better as much as it will make you better too, really, really fast. Thank you, Millie. Thank you for your thoughts on that as well. And Sun-Hee, let me bring you in here. When we think about now, what are we at risk of overlooking? When we think about diversity and inclusion?

Sun-Hee: There’s so much data out there now in terms of why diversity is good for organisations. So the very top levels of organisations get it. So they want diversity because numbers vary a little bit, but we do know that there’s four gender diverse organisations. They are around 50% more profitable than those that are not. And for racially diverse organisations, they are 35% more profitable. So the top levels of management get it. It’s the trickle down effect that doesn’t seem to happen because there’s no accountability. So if the CEO minus one, minus two minus three levels where, if you don’t link it to their own pocket and their own pay package, why would anybody implement what the CEO wants for that organisation? So right now, more important thing than anything else is to have some kind of a push or a target. I know the discussion has been raging for years, many, many, many decades, actually, when it comes to agenda, for example, not race yet.

It’s still, the arguments the same, about the pros and cons of this. So when I first started out in the City, I used to also be on the camp where no, pure meritocracy is the way to go. Now I swung completely the other way, because after nearly a quarter of a century in the City, nothing has moved. The dial has not moved in the City and things are moving too slowly. So because of, for example, movements like woman on board or the 30% club, they’re all people who have gone through the glass ceiling, but that’s predominantly white women only in the last 10 years. Nobody else has broken through the glass ceiling.

Things have to move a little bit quicker. And the only way to set this in motion is by having targets and quotas, which is why I’m really in awe of law firms. There are a few magic circle law firms, City law firms who have announced that in five years time, or by 2025, they will have 15% of the partnership as BAME. So you need to publicly declare these things so that you can be held publicly accountable. And without this accountability, managers are going to be happy with that little fiefdoms and recruit who they want to recruit into their teams, who tend to be many of these, Who tend to look like them, think like them, the usual problem is going to perpetuate and nothing is going to change.

Julia: And I think that’s a huge risk actually, well there’s going to be a sizable economic downturn is that we’ll to some of those stereotypes. And some of those old fashioned ways of thinking when actually at the top of the organisations, people are recognising that diversity inclusion to make some massive commercial difference. And also many you were saying in the world of innovation is that you have to have that diversity as well. I think that’s a great moment just to pause there as we bring in Cynthia, who has some research to support today’s discussion.

Cynthia: The 2021 Financial Times article “Workplace equality and BAME representation” noted, that Asians are the ethnic group with the lowest representation at entry level. Although the article didn’t specify who fits into the category of Asians, the research did include Indian Americans. According to a report by “light”, the AI based start-up targeting online toxicity, in the early weeks of the pandemic during March 2020, there was a 900% increase in hate speech addressed towards China and the Chinese on Twitter and a 200% increase in traffic of hate sites and specific posts against South East Asians.

Julia: Cynthia, thank you very much for that research as always, research is very welcome. I just want to take a moment to remind everybody how to find DiverCity Podcasts and links to all the research can be found on the website, which is www.divercitypodcast.com, where you can find all our episodes and sign up for early notifications of future recordings. Please do follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn and DiverCity Podcast is available on BrightTALK and all good podcast channels. And by the way, we’d love a rating because it all helps to promote the show. Now we were just going into the break there, well the research break thinking about quotas, and I know many of you’ve been thinking about quotas as well. Would love to just grab your thoughts about why quotas matter, but are there some concerns about setting quotas?

Millie: Absolutely. So early in my career in financial services, I constantly thought, yes, meritocracy, because pretty much you advance based on the numbers that you can produce. But I do definitely agree that we need quotas because even with those numbers, there’s still a bamboo ceiling, there’s still a glass ceiling, there’s still some type of ceiling. And once I get to that table, once I have a seat at that table, I still have barriers to overcome in terms of culturally, how accepting are people of me or of those who are brought in through quotas? Do I have that credibility of, I actually do deserve a seat at this table because I have the experience, because I have the intelligence and because I have knowledge and that actually can help not only welcome those people into the organisation, but then to show and continue to prove that diversity of thought, et cetera, that actually brings far more value. And then eventually that will lead to not needing quotas anymore.

Julia: And, it’s a wealth of experience. It’s just not being tapped into, this is the crazy thing in my mind, which is when you have that experience. And Sun-Hee, I know you’ve got some thoughts and also some data I understand about why this really matters because the calibre of talent that could be sitting at that highest level of the organisation.

Sun-Hee: Yes, so ultimately what we’re trying to get to is inclusion. This is why we lock together diversity and inclusion. So the quickest and the shortest way of getting inclusion is via diversity. Because by virtue of being a different gender, different sexual orientation, different race, ethnicity, you will not have walked the same path as other people. And what’s missing right now is equality of opportunity. That’s provided to people who are not white. This is why the landscape is not very diverse when you look at most organisations across the city. So I think it’s Colin Powell who said, give me a seat at the table and then I’ll prove to you that I can do my job. But for most people of colour, there is no opportunity to be at the table in the first place. And that is the change that we need to make.

Julia: As we sit here, we’re facing what is arguably going to be a very tough economic climate. And that’s the question I ask all our guests who come on the show, which is I’m quite deeply concerned that diversity inclusion could fall down the corporate agenda. I’m really keen to hear your compelling reasons, send us off on a real Clarion call for why diversity inclusion really matters right now. Sun-Hee coming to you, first of all, love your thoughts on that.

Sun-Hee: Again, it’s the psychological safety aspect, happy employees, are more productive employees. Your organisation will do better, end of.

Julia: You can’t argue with that at all, Can you? That’s exactly right. And right now we need happy employees. So Millie, love to hear your final thoughts to end the show, if you would, with why diversity inclusion matters right now?

Millie: So at standard Charter, client experience is an equation, it’s employee experience, plus external clients experience, plus partner experience. If we get the employee experience right, then we can provide excellent and amazing and superior client experience. And that translates into revenue, translates back into the bottom line. And there is a study from Deloitte back in 2019 that said that if there are not enough opportunities for growth in the organisation, then we lose that talent. And that’s especially important, especially now in the war for top talent.

Julia: Well, I think those are very, very compelling and beautifully articulated reasons why diversity and inclusion matters right now. Millie, It’s been wonderful to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us.

Millie: Thanks for having me.

Julia: and Sun-Hee, thank you for joining us as well.

Sun-Hee: It was great, it’s been a long time coming Julia.

Julia: But as always to all our listeners, at DiverCity Podcast, I’ve been Julia streets. Thank you for listening. And we look forward to another episode very soon. Thank you.

Kieron: This episode of DiverCity Podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. Thanks to Cynthia Akinsanya for her insights.

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