This year has been one we'll never forget, each of our worlds have changed. We have experienced pain and challenge on a personal level. Each of our stories has been different but equally real and important. We have learnt lessons on an individual, family, community, national and international level. We have heard the voices of many under-represented groups during this time and this has led to protests and movements developing new and stronger voices which have echoed through the business communities.
So, gender diversity has been gaining traction for a long time (and the stats have not changed with any significance over the last few years) but now the business community is saying that they need to balance their organizations because the individual just won't let this happen anymore, people are shouting, people are tired and people are leaving businesses for ones who are more human centred.
This means that businesses are on the hunt, how do they add a women, a person of colour, to build diversity in to those roles from board to entry level. The expected step up for the senior man in the team is earmarked for someone else in order to make change at the scale. Right back at the start of careers at graduate / apprenticeship level, businesses are looking at parity which means the jobs that white men could walk in to are being cut by half if not more in some cases...
I had a conversation with a leader from a Northern coding school who advised that they had 16 individuals on their last course and the only people without jobs are white males. The women or people of diverse and minority backgrounds... All as equally talented... Were snapped up by businesses wanting to create change within their teams.
I also spoke with a senior leader within a large corporate who said that he sees his career stabilising where he is, as the opportunities above him now will be few and far between for white men in order to create parity. This wasn't a grumble but a realisation that world is changing and he had to make room to build a fairer future for all.
What does this mean? Will there be more change? Will we start to see those stats actually move??? I've heard that 17 - 18% of roles in tech are taken by women now for 5 years!!! Will this open the door to address disability next which is deeply under represented??? I don't know but I do know that for ever senior person who is hired in one of these diverse seats they must advocate and ensure they keep the door open for the next and that maybe the boys are going to have a harder ride in this new world and could feel the struggle of finding a job in 2021.
Writing this has really led me to wonder about the future of my son, Joe who is currently 8 years old. What will the working world will look like for him when he enters it in 10 years time? His dream is to be a professional footballer, he has girls in his team now, will he have women in his team if he makes to top flight?
He doesn't understand discrimination by colour, class, sex, sexuality, he sees people as human. I always feel deeply saddened that it's adults that create these divisions in society. Will he be part of a generation that has very different rules, that do not give him as a white male the upper hand?
I have hope but one thing I am sure of is that his Northern, state school education will still hold him back from entering many rooms, the gap between the have and the have nots have grown significantly during this pandemic.