Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Jay Richards: No one is coming to rescue us when it comes to diversity

Jay Richards, NDA’s new monthly columnist, is the Co-Founder of Imagen (previously DivInc), an agency helping brands collaborate with Gen Z through its pool of over 200,000 Gen Z individuals.

No, I’m not talking about coronavirus, we’re all screwed, let’s just embrace it and move on. We’ll be living in caves and hunting in packs within a year.

But what I’m actually talking about are the challenges we face across all industries when it comes to diversity. I know, I know, another bloody piece about how diversity is important blah blah blah.

Bare with me for a moment though, I’m not saying let’s go to the current powers that be and beg them to do more for diversity and inclusion, God forbid.

For 10 years my Co-Founder Cat Agostinho has led a women’s network called dawn. Cat was pushing diversity before diversity was cool. I attended their 10 year birthday celebration and it was basically me surrounded by hundreds of extremely intelligent and powerful women, it was an experience for sure!

I love networks like Dawn because they aren’t asking for permission, they aren’t waiting for some guy to come along and tell them it’s OK to be who they are and to support each other. They just made it happen.

I love hearing about WhatsApp groups of black women who keep eachother up to date on what they’re paid for speaking gigs to promote transparency and ensure no one is being ripped off. These days there are loads of networks like dawn and WhatsApp groups like the above and they’re exactly what we need. 

Forgiveness not permission

I’ve always been a believer in asking for forgiveness and not permission. My mum always taught me as a black man that I had to be the best in the room, I had to break through glass ceilings myself and not worry about the chaos caused.

My mum landed in this country and got straight to work running her own careers guidance business while studying at university with six children and a husband in tow. She’s hustled her whole life to make sure that her ceiling could be our floor. She never once asked for permission.

I am forever inspired by people like Cat and my mum who just don’t give a damn, they understand that no one is going to hand them anything and that they must make noise if they want to be heard. 

As we all drown in posts about the need for diversity in all aspects of life, let’s not fall prey to the lie that we need to be granted permission before we bang our drums. 

While building Imagen (previously DivInc) I’ve come to realise even more that diversity is great for business. My tribe and I are obsessed about ensuring that we provide diverse consultants to every agency and brand we work with, thus ensuring there is diversity of perspective and thought when branding, marketing or products are being created and developed.

If you have diversity of perspective and thought in a room then you’re more likely to kill it when carrying out branding, marketing or product launches which is always good for your bottom line right?

I refuse for us to ask permission when it comes to building a tribe of diverse consultants, we just do it and the results have been phenomenal. 

Whether you’re launching your own diverse community or you’re in a large company trying to fly the flag for D&I, just do it, they’ll come running once they realise the power of what you’ve created!