Episode 10 of Business as Unusual featured a conversation with Azeem Ahmad on Cultural Diversity in the marketing sector. We talked about the scale of the problem faced by people of colour in the marketing industry and the actions business leaders and marketers can take to be a better ally.
Jon Payne (00:00):
Welcome to Business as Unusual, the webinar by Noisy Little Monkey, where we discuss how marketers salespeople, scale up business owners can stay productive, profitable, and at peace in the pandemic and whatever comes after today, we're joined by the wonderful Azeem Ahmad. How you doing Azeem?
Azeem Ahmad (00:20):
Yeah, very well. Thank you. How are you?
Jon Payne (00:22):
I am good. Thanks. I'm good. I am sweating buckets. Which is, do you know what I really shouldn't say that on camera when everybody can visibly see that I apologise. Azeem is going to take us through his recent survey, into cultural diversity in the marketing sector. Azeem you're a busy man at Staffordshire University as their Digital Marketing Manager. You're also, as I repeatedly tell you, mate, in great shape. So you must spend a lot of your time working out, right?
Azeem Ahmad (00:53):
Yeah. I don't use LinkedIn. I don't like it, but I'm sure that everybody has seen those viral posts where they're like you've got to get up at 3:00 AM, go to the gym. I'm sad enough to actually, I do that. I get up between three and five, and when we could go to the gym, I used to spend ages in there progressively trying to lose several of my chins. Now it's all gone and I've gained several extra stomachs, well rolls in my stomach, I should say. So I'm very glad you can only see the top half of me, but yeah.
Jon Payne (01:26):
Yeah. I'm shooting myself above the moobs. So you are among friends, my friend. But so you do this gym stuff. You also always study in PPC analytics and SEO. It feels like to me, cause I've seen you do so many talks all over the place. Then you have to put all these decks together. What's behind giving up even more of your time, to do this survey because I presume you did this in your free time. So what was behind that?
Azeem Ahmad (01:52):
Yeah, absolutely. So I did this in my free time. So the motivation behind doing this survey was that I was really interested to see what the industry thought because as, as a person of colour when I'm at a conference or whatever, I don't really see many people up on the stage and we've talked about it to death and I think it's covered to death. But, I wanted to see what others felt and thought about it because maybe when you're in a discussion with actual people, remember when we could see each other and talk, maybe when you, when you're in that situation, you might not be as open or as, as expressive as you'd like to be. So I thought if I do this completely anonymous survey, put it out there. I was surprised at how, how well it got picked up and how many people had filled it in.
Azeem Ahmad (02:40):
And I was surprised at how open and honest, excuse me, people were being in the results, which, which we'll talk about later on. And there are obviously a few things that came out that shocked me as a, as a person of colour. So I'm hoping that when people see this and people who are on the webinar, see this and take it in and think right, okay. I now actually need to do something about it. But ultimately that was the motivation behind the survey, the motivation behind doing all of this stuff is because I just I've told myself that I need to keep learning and keep trying to be a better person and try and learn as much as I can. I'm not great at everything. I have definitely made mistakes along the way. But yeah, the comeback is always greater than the setback. So here I am. Yeah. You've got on mute I think, Jon. Jon, I can't hear you.
Jon Payne (03:43):
I muted myself, that's why. The wind was blowing because I just opened the window. Take us through your deck, dude. Share your screen.
Azeem Ahmad (03:47):
Yeah, let's go for it.
Jon Payne (03:50):
I'm really excited for this.
Azeem Ahmad (03:51):
Awesome. So I'm going to start, before I share have my deck. I'm going to start with an apology, and I haven't told Jon about this, but I'm going to start with an apology. I did an unconscious bias training session at work, not too long ago. I won't bore you with the specifics, but there's one part of it that just hit me deep in my soul. They were talking about accents and which accent was the most like respected and trustworthy, which was the least. The most was Scottish from Edinburgh, that sort of region. Okay, great. The worst was West Midlands, right? So I'm already, I'm already fighting an uphill battle, but please stay with me. I'll give you a little, a little hook at the start to keep you, but let's get past that horrific accent. But we'll have some fun along the way, hopefully. I'm going to share my screen.
Jon Payne (04:44):
Oh, I love that. Yeah, you're right. Let's be clear here. This is about people of colour in marketing. And we're including the West Midlands in that.
Azeem Ahmad (04:59):
So I'm gonna be that person. Can you see the screen?
Jon Payne (05:03):
I can see the word who, with a question mark?
Azeem Ahmad (05:07):
Yeah. So little bit about myself. You've already covered it. I'm Digital Marketing Manager at Staffordshire University. Spoken at conferences and events before. Recently also became an awards judge for some marketing awards. But yeah, that's me. Let's go through what we are going to cover today. I can't see the chat, but I know Jon and Claire and the team are monitoring that, but if you have any questions or anything, definitely feel free to pop them in. I'll go through a little bit of background and we'll talk a little bit about the survey results.
Azeem Ahmad (05:45):
I'll talk about conferences and industry, and then hopefully we'll have time for a bit of a Q&A at the end. So, a little bit of a background to begin with. As I mentioned, I did have bit of a hook. So here it is. If you stick with me till the end, I will give you a tip. One tip, proven that will help you add £24 billion to the UK economy. If you know me personally, the answer would be to open the gyms, please. But it's not. Stick with me and I'll tell you. So before we kick in, I just want you to think about this and I'll give you the answer shortly. Two boxers are in a boxing match, regular, not kickboxing. Fight's scheduled for 12 rounds, but ends after six. One boxer knocks out the other. No man throws a punch.
Azeem Ahmad (06:31):
How is that possible? I'll give you the answer shortly, but let's talk for the reason why we're here today. Diversity. And we're not talking about the diversity on the screen, but yes when I searched that stock image that's what I found. So not diversity. And when I speak about diversity today, I'm not going to talk about women. Because I'm not a woman. I wouldn't feel comfortable enough to talk about women, but I think that is done very beautifully by my friend who is on the webinar today, Areej who looks after Women in Tech SEO. So I'll give them a little plug. That's their handle. They are doing, and she is doing some really, really amazing work. Check them out. If you're not part of it, you should definitely become part of it. Good.
Jon Payne (07:12):
Also, if I can jump in, a really good person to follow on Twitter, to make your Twitter less male and less white, Areej is a really good follow and go through the people that she retweets, and that she follows. I'll shut up, stage is yours.
Azeem Ahmad (07:35):
And I assume that this picture was taken before social distancing came into place. But if not, you're horrible people, I'm only joking. So let me talk to you about this guy. And if you know who this is fantastic, if you don't, I'll give you a little bit of background. Although the picture looks quite old, this man passed away not too long ago. That is Robert Moses. Robert Moses is an American public official. He worked in the New York Metropolitan area, excuse me. He was known as the master builder of New York city and other areas. There's a very important book called the power broker and it explores this idea, excuse me, that Moses deliberately ordered bridges, to be built lower, to restrict the use of parks and beaches by the poorer communities, which were typically Blacks and Latinos, because they would have to get the bus and the buses were taller.
Azeem Ahmad (08:29):
So he built these bridges, which are often called, referred to as racist bridges, which would prevent those people from accessing the beaches and pools. And another thing that that book explores is the fact that his own friends and colleagues, Moses' own friends and colleagues admitted that he ordered the pools to be made deliberately colder so that if by any chance they could access them, that they wouldn't get in. And equally he would prevent permits from being given to cars or anything else that would allow vehicles to get near them. And equally where he had Black life guards, he would send them to like the least visited pools or the ones that are out of the way where the tourists wouldn't go. And also again, you're getting the vibe, he's a bit of a horrible man and also he deliberately, he was quite a vocal opposition for Black war veterans.
Azeem Ahmad (09:23):
He was part of a, a group that designed Manhattan live in complexes, designed for war veterans, but he didn't want Black war veterans to live there. So basically horrible guy, you might be thinking, right, ok, that's in America. A couple of facts about the UK. So of all the children's books that were released in 2018, only 4% of those featured main characters who were Black or minority ethic. 6% of all management jobs in the UK are held by either Black or minority ethnic workers and on average applicants from Nigeria, Middle Eastern, or North African origin, have to send at least 80% more job applications, than a person of white British origin just to get a positive response. So that's here, terrible thing. That's part of the protected characteristics underneath the equality act, which I've laid out there for you. Everybody should know them, everybody on this call should be well familiar with them.
Azeem Ahmad (10:25):
So that's that, excuse me. A little bit of background. I'll talk to you a little bit now about what I think. Here are a handful of news clippings from late last year and early this year, top left. You can see people at Facebook, specifically, Black Facebook workers. The date is on the article. You might not be able to see it there, but it's the 11th of November, 2019. So before the Black Lives Matter movement came back into people, into the limelight and back into visibility. They wrote an open letter to Facebook. We're treated as if we do not belong here, that's that, bottom left the Washington Post women and people of colour in the newsroom make less than white men. In the middle universities, BAME inclusion is vital to improve universities. Top right BAFTA film awards. We're talking about diversity again, Joker's leading the way. And then bottom right, diversity is the key to cutting edge creativity. So we recognise that, right? But people don't seem to be taking action on that. This though is some really positive news, I think. This is a tweet from January, 2020. So you can see that more Black British students than ever are choosing university of Oxford. 22% of them were Britons from BAME background up from 18% the previous year. And that's a picture from a different college. That's good, right Jon? Say, yes. He's nodding.
Jon Payne (11:51):
I was cleaning my glasses, I couldn't see through them! That looks brilliant.
Azeem Ahmad (11:57):
It looks brilliant. No, it doesn't because they had to quickly correct that, because what they actually did was admit 3.1% of Black British students which is a record, but not the 20% they claimed. So they categorise Black and BAME people in the same group. And it picked up a lot of heat on Twitter. So that's 3:00 PM on the same day, and this is 6:00 AM on the same day. For all intents and purposes, they've got a picture of a young Black girl and the first four words, more Black British students makes you think that almost one in five Black students are picking Oxford when really they're not. So they had to clarify that pretty quickly, terrible people, best way that I want to just lace out and flesh out the rest of this conversation, excuse me, I've got a really dry throat. It's the heat. I want to talk very quickly about diversity and inclusion.
Azeem Ahmad (12:51):
As I mentioned to Jon, and as Jon said it in the trailer for this, I think everybody on this webinar has got a very good handle of what both is, but when you share this with your colleagues? I know a few people have said that they're going to get the recording and share this with their colleagues, with their agency. So thank you very much for that, I really appreciate it. Diversity and inclusion, diversity, very much identity, cognitive. It talks about how we think, where we're from, different perspectives, and who we are. Inclusion is more about empowerment, enabling. So it's about having your voice heard. Like I mentioned earlier, occupying strategic senior roles and bringing your entire self to work. And the best way I can describe that is in the next slide, which is an article I saw from Tanya Joseph, who is the founder, oh, sorry, the founder, the brains behind the, This Girl Can campaign. And she said, one of her friends described it as this, the difference between diversity and inclusion is being invited to the party and having a great time at the party. So those are the two differences. Hopefully you will know those, but for your colleagues who are watching this afterwards and they don't, now they do. Going back before we go forward, do you remember this? If you know the answer, put it in the chat. I can't see it. Jon, what do you think the answer is?
Jon Payne (14:06):
Oh, I was watching the chat. Please someone put the answer in the chat. When we're talking about my mum, by the way earlier, this is the sort of thing she would love to do, she would make us do these sorts of things. No man throws a punch. One knocks the other out yet. No, you know what? Azeem, I've got nothing.
Azeem Ahmad (14:31):
Five, four, three, two, one. The answer is yes, they were Women. Hopefully someone's put that in the chat, but if you have yes, that.
Jon Payne (14:43):
Loads of woke people have put that in.
Azeem Ahmad (14:47):
Jon Payne (14:48):
Guys, why did you leave me hanging? Well, I am a dick,
Azeem Ahmad (14:55):
So let's talk about ignorance.
Jon Payne (14:57):
Azeem Ahmad (14:57):
Perfect. I love that little segue. Thanks very much.
Jon Payne (15:05):
Yeah, I've really enjoyed it.
Azeem Ahmad (15:08):
So I want to talk to you about a few different types of ignorance. There are several, but I think there are three key ones and they'll be relevant to what we're going to talk about later on. But again, I'm just sort of laying the foundations for a little bit of a discussion later on. The first type of ignorance is, when my screen decides to work. There you go. Invincible ignorance. So invincible ignorance. Ignorance is where you don't know something and you can't possibly know something and there's no moral responsibility. Or, you absolve yourself of any moral responsibility. So the image in the background, I think there was a very famous story, which I'm going to absolutely butcher about some knight who was going into a cave to try and defeat a dragon.
Azeem Ahmad (15:54):
Didn't have all the information or know everything about the dragon. The dragon was invincible, and eventually they ended up dying. A better example to give you as if me and you, Jon, were having a debate about the shape of the earth. And I was very much a flat earther that you were no, it's not. I could just absolve myself a very moral responsibility to stand my ground and say, I'm a flat earther, it doesn't matter what you say. The earth is flat, don't waste your time. That is invincible ignorance. The opposite of that, whoops is vincible ignorance. So vincible ignorance is where you don't know something, but you can't possibly know something. And the example here is what caused World War One. Now, I don't know that, but I could go and find it, because I'm a horrible person who doesn't know history, but it is the first thing that came to my mind. I don't know that information, but I could go and find it.
Azeem Ahmad (16:43):
So that's the second type. The third is affected ignorance and that's where you don't know something, you could possibly know. You don't want to know and you try and remain ignorant. So a good example of that would literally be this whole All Lives Matter movement or more recently at the football where people had put in White Lives Matter as a response to the Black Lives Matter campaign. I just want to take a step to the side here and mention that the choice of a monkey as my image there has no reflection on Jon's company of Noisy Little Monkey.
Azeem Ahmad (17:18):
It was literally just what I typed in on stock imagery. But, now I've got your attention, Jon.
Jon Payne (17:26):
Although, hey, it kind of sums up my I've never heard of female women boxing.
Azeem Ahmad (17:31):
So we're going to play a bit of a game. And you can play this along in the chat as well. So this game is where you're a mailman, Jon. Okay. So I'm your manager, and you're going to deliver a parcel for me. I've put two perspectives, but realistically, realistically, there could be three, right? I'm your manager, you've got one parcel to deliver and it's in an area that is not your patch. You're not allowed to use your phone for data protection reasons. Just your map, a handheld printed out map of the area. If you think you could do that type yes in the chat, I've given you a map, you've got one parcel then you're finished. It's an area you don't know, you've just got a map.
Jon Payne (18:09):
I'm pretty bad at maps. Have I got almost unlimited time, I mean, I've got the whole day? Oh, hello Azeem. Don't freeze now, I can't do your slides. In fact, I haven't even seen them. We'll wait. Am I the only person whose is frozen?
Claire Dibben (18:29):
No, he's frozen. Can you hear me? He's frozen for me as well.
Jon Payne (18:32):
Okay. I can't hear Azeem either.
Claire Dibben (18:36):
He'll probably pop back in a sec.
Jon Payne (18:38):
He will come back.
Claire Dibben (18:40):
He's given us more time to think about this though, which is helpful.
Jon Payne (18:43):
Yeah. So we've got a map and we've got one job. Could we do it? None of us have typed yes. Katie has, thank you. Oh, he's gone entirely. Let's hope he comes back.
Claire Dibben (19:02):
He's definitely coming back.
Jon Payne (19:03):
Andrew. I think you might need to deliver the parcel if you don't mind, we'll probably have to go and pick it up from Azeem's. Cause he can't email it, his internet's gone down.
Claire Dibben (19:15):
He might have gone to get an ice cream to be fair. It's quite warm.
Jon Payne (19:18):
Yeah. Yeah. Bethany's saying she could do it. I mean, in fairness, if nothing else comes out of this and we have to reschedule, at least, you know, there's a lot of people who are going to help Azeem with his parcel.
Claire Dibben (19:29):
Should I turn my camera on so that you're not... ah, there you go.
Jon Payne (19:32):
Wow. Azeem you grew quite a lot of hair.
Azeem Ahmad (19:41):
Oh my god.
Claire Dibben (19:41):
Right, I'm gonna disappear again, here we go.
Jon Payne (19:41):
We can't see you yet, Azeem. Or your screen. But, but you just take your time, mate. We can fill. You alright? What happened?
Azeem Ahmad (19:48):
I don't know, it just, it just died. It just died. Right.
Jon Payne (19:51):
I think he's because you were about to confront me with more of my biases.
Azeem Ahmad (19:56):
Let's go, let's go.
Jon Payne (20:00):
Okay, bias me up. So there were quite a lot of people who said that they could deliver your parcel for you. If that's all you've come here for, to get this parcel delivered. I feel that we've gone to quite a lot of effort.
Azeem Ahmad (20:11):
Yeah. Sorry about that. I'm not really sure what happened, but back in the game, we're going to present this from current slide.
Jon Payne (20:17):
Reall quick dude.
Azeem Ahmad (20:19):
Good, good, good. Alright. Share my screen. Screen 2, press share. Can you see me?
Jon Payne (20:26):
Yes. One real life example. One job. Well done, everybody. I think all of your fingers crossed there.
Azeem Ahmad (20:36):
Thank you very much. Sorry about that, the joys of online. So you said, yes. Let's get back into it. Jon.
Jon Payne (20:45):
Hang on one second. Fuck you, Maret.
Azeem Ahmad (20:49):
So Jon, this is a map of New York. We're in New York. So I want you to drop the package to the New York Stock Exchange. Could you do that? You know where that is?
Jon Payne (20:59):
Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I can do that.
Azeem Ahmad (21:02):
Perfect, perfect. So the New York Stock Exchange, you can see it on the map, it's just at the top. Perfect. So that's an example of vincible ignorance because unless you love New York, you don't know where it is, but you could possibly know. Right? So that's an example of vincible ignorance. Invincible could be well, stuff your job, Azeem, I'm not going to bother. This time around, let's make it a little bit more difficult. Now, Jon, I want you to deliver a package to the 7-11 convenience store. That's opposite the TMM building.
Jon Payne (21:36):
The TLM or TMM?
Azeem Ahmad (21:39):
TMM. Tango, Mike, Mike. Could you do it? This is Tokyo.
Jon Payne (21:43):
Oh, you know, I think I could, but I'm going to need to stop and ask directions multiple times.
Azeem Ahmad (21:51):
Can you speak Japanese?
Jon Payne (21:53):
No, but I'm very smiley foreigner. You know what? I'd go to the Tokyo English, but now, now I'm just trying to game the systems, go to the Tokyo English specialists.
Azeem Ahmad (22:06):
I'll help you out a little bit. So Tokyo doesn't have street names. It has like block numbers, and the blocks are numbered. But a good example of this in Tokyo, it's cited a lot. And if you've seen this example before, apologies. Tokyo is cited a lot because this is an example of pretty much all different types of ignorance, how you respond to this. So this how you did it, you said you'd ask someone, and you'd educate yourself. I think that's a nice little segue to talk about an important quote, which is about education. And the quote is education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. That was from Malcolm X. But let's talk about the reason why we're here and that's about Marketing. So hopefully I've given you a little bit of a foundation to talk about marketing itself. Woops a daisy, clicked the wrong screen.
Jon Payne (22:53):
That wasn't me either.
Azeem Ahmad (23:01):
Perfect. So these are two sentences that I have heard throughout my career. First one is "Surprised that you're a marketer. I thought that you might have wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor instead". That's commonly a stereotype that Brown people, Asian people should be lawyers or doctors. Second one, which really cheesed me off, was someone in a previous employment said to me, I look like I'm good at fixing computers. Can you help me with this. To this day I don't understand how you can look like you're good at fixing a computer. I know there's a common stereotype about what people in IT must look like. But they're two sentences, I have experienced worse, but I just thought I'd give you two, two sentences. So I'm going to talk a little bit about the industry now, the industry and conferences, and this is a stock picture, but again, it's quite interesting.
Jon Payne (23:50):
Azeem Ahmad (23:51):
Quite, Interesting. Right. I'll start by talking about job descriptions. If job descriptions are part of the problem. These things that you should never do in a job description, is things like this. Don't put words like ninja, guru, wizard, still happens. And don't say you're an equal opportunities employer. The only time you should ever say ninja, guru, wizard is if that's in your company name. So if it was Azeem's Marketing Wizards then I'd be looking for a fellow Wizard. Equally, if you hire someone and say, we're looking for like a marketing monkey, for example, instead, you should do things like this. Company X is committed to creating a diverse environment. We recruit employ, train, and promote regardless of race, religion, colour, origin, sex, disability, age, veteran status, other protected status as required by applicable laws. So that's an American one, but quite easily, that would make me and other people that I've spoken to in the industry who are people of colour, more likely to apply for a job cause other blurbs that say, we're an equal opportunity employer, it's borderline affection and a tick box exercise.
Jon Payne (25:01):
Yeah, that feels like I've given up quite a lot of space in my advert or in my job description to bothering, to express it, as opposed to tick a little box so that I can't be taken to court.
Azeem Ahmad (25:12):
The best place to put it is salary. Put salary, right at the end. If you put competitive already, I'm not interested. I'm not looking for a job anywhere, my employers are watching, sorry, doing a bit of research. But, put the salary at the bottom. And then underneath that, say that. Let's talk a little bit about discrimination. So, 55% of employed UK adults have witnessed or experienced discrimination. That is a supremely high number.
Jon Payne (25:40):
Is this from your survey, or from somewhere else?
Azeem Ahmad (25:42):
This is not from my survey. This is actual facts from, UNTIL Inclusion and Diversity who I'll reference on the next slide. This is not from my survey. My survey results will be in a separate part shortly, but that number itself is incredible. So we, we know over half of us know that discrimination exists, it directly impacts our success. So this is the survey which I've referenced at the bottom there, UNTIL Inclusion and Diversity. Google it, there's so much information there, it's incredible. Diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time. So, if you look at the bottom left of that, right. 58%, an all male leadership team will make a good decision 58% of the time. Below a team average of 66%, when you start to include different genders, that goes up to 73% of the time that a decision is made. You start to get a mix of age, goes up to 80, and where you mix age, gender and geographic diversity, 87% of the time.
Azeem Ahmad (26:37):
So this piece of information literally tells you that you could affect decision making and make better decisions by simply having more people, different genders, ages, and geographic backgrounds. Better decisions equal more money. And that's what leads me to this slide here. So companies that are in the top quartile for racial, ethnic diversity, 35% more likely to have higher financial returns above their respective industry medians. You can literally make more money by having people of colour, different ages, different genders in your teams at those levels. Incredible amount of, you know, progress and achievement and money to be made. Before I go on to the next slide, I'll tell you where I've got this from. So I saw that there was an article that was published by 600, I think as a collective they're called 600 and more. And it's about 600 and more Black advertising professionals who wanted to effect a change in the industry.
Azeem Ahmad (27:35):
So the next slide I'm going to show you is about what actions I think the industry can take. But when I saw, what they had written, I thought, you know what? I can't put it any better than what they've done. So this is directly from them. I'll share this with you, Jon, at the end so you can send out to everybody when they get the email. So here they are. We'll go through them one by one. And I could not agree with this so wholeheartedly. First one, go public. So don't put a black square and say, we support that. Go public properly. Say that we're going to achieve X by X date. We will achieve. We will have 20% of our leadership will be from Black, Asian, minority ethnic backgrounds. Then you've got a goal to go for. Again, it's not a tick box exercise and it shouldn't be viewed as that but, people of colour are on the back foot, and now we need to get level and they'll get ahead. So you should measure.
Jon Payne (28:27):
Can I interrupt, this is an important question from Sunjay. He says is it okay for him to screen grab these slides and credit you?
Azeem Ahmad (28:34):
Yes. Go for it. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Jon Payne (28:37):
Thanks mate. Also I apologise to Maret, who I said nasty things to earlier, as a joke. I realise, I'm down here, you can't see my smile.
Azeem Ahmad (28:48):
No, absolutely. There's definitely merit in sharing. These, these slides, this one is definitely not mine, but it's from a survey which I'll share with you. So yeah. Measure release, your own diversity data, create accountability. I'm company X, I have got 3% of my leadership team or management team BAME or people of colour. Year 2, if that goes behind, we need to know why, what's happened. An example I can give you is where I've talked to a company and a senior leadership team. I won't name them. And I won't name any of the conferences or anything else.
Azeem Ahmad (29:17):
It's all anonymous. I've talked to them and they said, well, what do you notice about this as an outsider looking in, and by outsiders, I mean, external to the company and not outsiders as in a person of colour. I said, well, all of you are white, and all of your old and the people that you're speaking to are from all corners of the world, they're young, they're old and everything else. You need to have an understanding of your audience, and you need to have a diverse senior level, senior leadership team. So that's that. Talking about senior leadership team. There should be extensive bias training done, not just literally unconscious bias. It should be really deep and in depth. Start to have conversations with people. I'll talk about this at the end cause I'm conscious of time. Leadership, all of them should be involved in diversity initiatives. Tie their successes to bonuses.
Azeem Ahmad (30:03):
If you want to get paid more as a senior white leader, take it upon yourself to do something about it, and be like, right, I'm going to make this happen. Lead the way. Cause I think the time for awareness is done then. Create a diversity and inclusion committee of Black and non-black people of colour, employees to monitor progress, get them involved. Say look, we have that conversation, like I said, we want to progress. How do we do it? As a white person, I can't tell you how, how we can do it. So I want your opinion. Don't talk to me after it's happened. Right, should we put a black square on our socials, what should we do? You tell us, you're a Black person. That's not how I think this should go. Create a panel to stop spreading stereotypes. Exactly like that. And introduce wage equity, now this is the one of the most important ones.
Azeem Ahmad (30:47):
Because I think as an industry, I think as a wider in terms of business as a whole, we talk about the gender pay gap between women and men. And I'll mention this later on, and there's a famous point in the year, where it trends on Twitter for a day, where women effectively stopped working, or start working for free because men are paid that much more than them. And I don't think we highlight the gaps between people of colour. So a good example of that is right, I'm a woman. I'm not, but if I was a woman paid less than a man, imagine how it must feel. And I'll never know this, but imagine how it was feel to be a Black woman. So I'm already paid less than my peers and I'm paid less because I'm female, absolutely terrible. Equally as a Black man or a person of colour, as an Asian man, I'm getting paid less than these people. Why? I feel like I'm doing a good job.
Jon Payne (31:33):
And like, here you go. This is you catching me being like in that water again, I'm that fish going you mean there's water everywhere? So we in the UK, even though this is against the law, right? And just like it's against the law to pay, to compensate men more than women. And that happens. But we're in a place where there isn't pay equality between people of colour and people like me.
Azeem Ahmad (32:00):
Jon Payne (32:02):
Azeem Ahmad (32:02):
And I think, when I've mentioned earlier, I didn't, I didn't dwell on it, but I think the word strategic now, in my opinion, is just been banded around. It's just that invisible ceiling, holding people of colour down. I've spoken to people who are literally like, right, and I've been in this situation myself. Let me give you an even better example. This is from a previous employment, not in the current role. When I was first starting out in the industry, I had a set of objectives to hit and I was keen to progress, dead hungry to learn, had hair, everything. I said to my direct line manager, look how do I progress, I want to get ahead, I love it here, I love the the team, love everything. What do I need to do? Here are your goals in black and white I want you to achieve, I should have said something else.
Azeem Ahmad (32:41):
Here are your goals on paper. I want you to achieve X by Y, grow this by this percent, do this and this. Went away, got my head down. Did it. I was over the moon. I was like, look I've done this now, I've done it in nine months instead of 12, please, can we have the discussion? Can I get a pay rise? Can I get the next title? I want to stay here? Help me. Yeah. Sorry. There's a recruitment freeze, so we can't do anything about it because the recruitment's freezed. Fair enough, situation you can't plan for. Within the next week, another white person in the company got a promotion and a pay rise. And then, I won't go into specifics, but that person hadn't achieved everything that was set out in their own development plan. And I just thought it's one rule for one and one for the other.
Azeem Ahmad (33:22):
And that for a while beat me down. And I just so you know, well, it's not enough. We've got to do something about it. I didn't do enough at the time. Because I was still new in the industry, I was still fresh, and I thought I'm not going to upset people or whatever. I'm just going to, I'm going to take that myself, which I probably shouldn't have done, but I'm just going to take that and move on. So yeah, that is that. Let me talk to you about conferences, which I think are a big part of the problem. And like I said, I will not mention, nowhere in this have I named the conference. If you decide to work it out, good. But I will never tell you, cause I don't think naming is the right thing here, but.
Jon Payne (34:00):
We've got about 15 minutes, do you think we need to overrun at all?
Azeem Ahmad (34:07):
Jon Payne (34:09):
We're going to overrun a little bit guys. Hopefully you can push back any meetings, we shouldn't go too far over.
Azeem Ahmad (34:13):
I'll be super quick and get to the end.
Jon Payne (34:15):
Areej has just said she can name the conferences, brackets but she won't!
New Speaker (34:15):
If she does she's psychic. So 8%, this is what we haven't got, 8% here's conference one, worldwide conference, 52 speakers, 11 of them fall underneath the BAME category in this, in every instance where I've mentioned BAME, every speaker in that category is Black. Not one is Asian. Okay. Okay. 21%. Great same conference. When you look at it from a UK point of view, one. 12 speakers. You mean to tell me the entire UK, that there's only one Black person, who was male, qualified enough to talk about marketing, a joke. Then I thought I'm going to start to look at some other conferences and think, is this a pattern? Let's have a look. Conference 2, last few years' data because of the way they structure the URLs you can go back and get this.
Azeem Ahmad (35:08):
Then you can see everything in the report, but that's all I'll say. 2017, none. 2018, we've got more speakers, one Black speaker. 2019, even more speakers, the same Black speaker. So in three years you literally cannot find another Black person to talk about marketing. Except for that same one. 2020, this conference had announced its lineup and it was entirely white. And the organisers themselves said, I won't say too much because you'll be able to find out, they've realised there's a problem with ethnicity and diversity. Lineup comes out, it gets updated. The conference gets pushed back later in the year. It's the same Black person, the same guy. And I'm thinking God, in four years, there are more people, talk to more people, look at what's going on. Another conference.
Jon Payne (35:56):
And these are marketing conferences, right? These are...
Azeem Ahmad (35:56):
Yeah, all marketing conferences. One of them is no, I won't say anything else.
Azeem Ahmad (36:03):
They're all marketing conferences. Here's another one. Right, one speaker in four years. And again, just one Black man. Terrible, terrible. We do call this out, Areej who's on the call now, has called out. Here's a conference, which, It's in the tweet. I haven't named it. It's there. I won't say anything about it, but it's there. 8% female, no diversity. I've come back in and said not one BAME person in that line up. My eyes blinded by the light. Sort it out. Two actions, literally two actions, right. And they're dead simple. Sign up to the dice charter. If you've never heard of the dice charter, right? It's for diversity and inclusion at events. There's a series of requirements that you need to hit in order to be sort of dice recognised. That involves talking about things like women, gender diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, everything else. The second one is hugely important.
Azeem Ahmad (36:56):
If you're charging that amount for a ticket, even if it is virtually, right, I've never run or hosted a conference. So I'll have full disclosure. No idea of what it takes in terms of venue costs X, Y, and Z. If it's virtual and you charge them that much, you've got to pay your speakers. That's my opinion. And I will hang my head on that peg or whatever the phrase is. You've gotta, you've got to pay people. That's that. Right. I'll shoot on quickly because we've got 10 minutes left. Survey results. This is what we're here to talk about. Right? So I asked the industry what they thought. I wanted to talk to the industry about all this sort of stuff, right. About diversity in the sector. Let's have a look at who responded. No surprise. Everybody that responded to me, all worked in marketing because my network is all marketing.
Azeem Ahmad (37:41):
A good mix of different people, including white people. 96% overwhelmingly satisfied in their current role. 39% been there one to two years and 43% believe that their career progress has been better than their own expectations. A few headlines that's. In this survey, I found 43% believe their organisation does not have an inclusive culture. That when I saw that, I was like, that's incredible. Nearly half of the people think that the place that I work is not inclusive. So diversity is literally a tick box exercise in that. That's how I see it, incredible amount. 43% is too high, but we recognise that there is a lack of diversity in the industry. Some people felt that there isn't, which is fine. That's the beauty of opinions. Everybody's got one. Overwhelmingly though, we recognise that there is a lack of diversity in the industry. When it comes to addressing that.
Jon Payne (38:35):
Who's the 9%?!
Azeem Ahmad (38:35):
No idea. No idea. When it comes to addressing that, then the waters get a little bit more muddier.
Azeem Ahmad (38:46):
So, I asked anonymously. Does your workplace do anything about it? Now, if you put unsure or no together, that's far more than the yes. So a handful of people who were in the free comments and said, one of the free comments said our organisation is making huge efforts to be inclusive. I'm thrilled. I'm the only white person in my team, in the senior leadership. And it's great. But I still feel like we've got a long way to go because when I go to conferences, I don't see that. The next one is the, probably the biggest one that killed me when I read it. And we've talked about, does your identity or ethnic background affect your career opportunities? 62% of people, six out of 10 said that it affects their career opportunities. When I saw that my heart sank a bit, cause I thought that is like 6 in 10 genuinely feel like the colour of their skin, or who they are affects, affects, their career opportunities.
Azeem Ahmad (39:40):
And a couple of things that I'll pull out dead quickly before I move on. So I'll move on to this slide here, which is about the three key headlines. Another thing that shocked me, 50% of the white females that completed the survey feel that career progress has been better than expected. I was always working under the assumption that females, especially white females would have been held back, but yeah, 50% of them feel it's been even better than expected. One of them said, I think that being white in this industry has had a positive impact, because I'd find it much more intimidating to attend to speak at conferences if I didn't see myself well represented. White males in the industry, who've been in the industry for over five years. All of them, every single one feel that progress is below their expectations and one of them..
Jon Payne (40:27):
Azeem Ahmad (40:29):
Yeah. And they said, one of them said that it's because they're based outside of the UK, in a country that's typically less diverse, which is fair. Every Black person, male and female in this survey, which makes up about just over 10%, all of them unhappy in their current jobs and all of them said that their progress has been below their expectations. And all of them said that their identity plays a part, which made me feel sick. Indian and Pakistani males said that our organisations try to demonstrate they've got an inclusive culture through programs and initiatives, but it's literally a tick box exercise. And if you look at our senior leadership, they're all white. Which is mad. I ended the survey with an open text box that said, how did you fix that? How do we fix that? So all these are anonymous opinions from people who have been in the survey. Here's one. Encouraging them when they're interested in marketing, when they're choosing what to study. Study marketing. My own opinion is completely disagree. If you're not hiring marketers of colour right now, what incentive is there for young marketers of colour, or young potential boxes of colour to want to get into this industry. If I'm looking ahead now, students now, I can tell you this now as a fact, it's the industry I work in. Students now are more switched on than ever. They're not just choosing a uni to go and get drunk, go and get drunk. They choose an industry where they want to go and get a career in. They're thinking six, seven years ahead. Completely disagree. Here's another opinion. "Larger agencies have more diversity. Maybe it's a size thing?" Completely disagree with that as well. Are you telling me that as a person of colour, I have to go and try and get into a bigger agency.
Azeem Ahmad (42:05):
Absolutely not. And I can see some of the attendees here are from agencies and they're from smaller agencies who are addressing this, so well done to you guys. Keep, keep on at it. But my own opinion here, I shouldn't have to go to a bigger agency as a, as a person of colour to feel represented. It should be across the board. Another one. Love this one. "Awareness is key!" We've got to take an active role in addressing the issue in our hiring process and even in our speaker lineups. When you create communities that focus on BAME. I'm a bit uncomfortable with the word BAME, but BAME or people of colour who are marketers. You're telling the industry we are here. Fantastic. Yes. Love that. I didn't say that, but I love it. This is one I've mentioned already. I'm coming to the end of the slides, you'll be pleased to know. More is done about the gender pay gap between white men and white women.
Azeem Ahmad (42:55):
Call that discrimination out. Talk to people who are afraid to speak out. Sort it out. Commit to active inclusivity within businesses. Don't just hire them, but make them feel comfortable, work on the biases. This is key because this is the difference between diversity and inclusion. Don't just hire somebody because they're a person of colour. Leave them, never train them, never let them progress. And then within a year to two years, they leave and you don't know why. Sorry, here's another few thousand pounds. Not a chance. Train them up. Tell them what you need to do to get to the next level and do it. Absolutely do it. This one is one I have said, because mini me is there, just call it out and say it. Call out non inclusive behaviours. Here are a few further resources that I think you should check out. I'll leave them on the screen there for a little bit, but I'm conscious of time. I'll send all this to Jon, he can sort that out, to Jon. Oh my God. Sorry. Send that to Jon. It's cause he's number one. That's payback for you.
Jon Payne (43:54):
Yeah. Yeah. Well were going to do this whole thing where you called me James, because I spelled your name wrong when I was publicising this. And it's just so, it was just such a classic and we wanted to see whether that would, whether that would go down and see whether people would notice and feel uncomfortable. I'm glad we didn't actually. Cause I think it would have been making you come across like a dick.
Azeem Ahmad (44:21):
So, that is that. The chat is whew! Firing!
Jon Payne (44:25):
Well, everybody's connecting, everybody's connecting.
Azeem Ahmad (44:28):
Ah lovely, love that, it feels like a virtual family. The last thing I was going to say that I didn't mention is that £24 billion number. So that number is from the same UNTIL survey. It is proven that when you allow marketers... start again. When you allow people of colour, BAME and people of colour to progress through your company at the same rate, that's how much money you could pump back into the economy. God knows, we bloody need it now to be honest. I'm just enjoying the comments. Joy, you're a legend. You're one of the people I'd absolutely love to meet when this is over. Definitely I'm going to just come to Bristol for a week. But that is that, I'm happy to take any questions, and try and squeeze the last bit in.
Jon Payne (45:12):
We've got like five minutes for questions. Did we get any questions? Or was everybody just having a big loving in the chat at the end there?
Claire Dibben (45:23):
We're just having a big loving, everyone wanted to connect, following your brilliant talk Azeem. So yeah. I was keeping an eye on, I couldn't see any questions, but obviously if people have them now just ping them in and then what I'll do if people want to connect, if you just, cause we, I can get a transcript of the chat, right Jon? Yep. So I'll just get everyone to drop their handles in the chat. And then when the call ends, when I send out the email, if you reply to the email, I'll send everyone's handles around individually, you know, cause GDPR and all that.
Jon Payne (45:54):
One of the things that.
Azeem Ahmad (45:59):
I'm opening the door because I'm melting.
Jon Payne (45:59):
One of the things I wanted to say, as, so a friend of mine and I was mentioning to you Azeem, you know, as a white guy, surrounded by privilege, we don't notice this stuff, and a real world thing that happened. And it was just, it was quite nice, was a friend of mine was saying that she was writing, she's a blog writer, and she was writing blogs for a company that did holidays. And just after Blackout Tuesday, she went on to get, as we all do, if we're in digital marketing, you're always trying to get those stock images and stuff, right. And she went on to Pixabay or to Shutterstock or something like that and looked up an image for family on holiday. And she noticed that all of the top, page one, was families made up of people of colour or they were multicultural families.
Jon Payne (46:48):
And ah wow? She was really surprised. And this is, my friend's Black. And she was, but she works with lots of white people, right. And so she said, oh goodness, have I now, have I become what I, not what I hate, but have I become so biased by all of these people that I work with that if I go back and look at the blog posts that I've done, because the easiest families to find all the white families, and I've only just been reminded of how difficult it is to find stock imagery. And by the way, Joyann Boyce has got loads of stock imagery that she's created with tech spark down here in Bristol, that includes people of colour if you get stuck for it. But so my friend went back and she went back and looked at all the blogs she'd done for this company. That's run by white people, staffed by white people. And she works in an agency that's entirely other, white people. Looked at all of the stock imagery, and it was all people of colour. And just because that was her real normal, she'd made a change for that business. And I just think just, and I mean, I know that's, that's only I'm talking representation there, right? I'm not talking, but what a small change has made a big change or something that gets millions of views. And yeah. So I think we can all kind of do just a little bit by following some of the stuff you've talked about in this. Yeah, absolutely.
Claire Dibben (48:11):
Sorry to interrupt, I think Katie just flagged me that Joy might have asked a question in the chat, oh here we go. I found it. Azeem, how do you feel about the BAME term? Twitter is ripping it apart right now. And that's from Joyann.
Jon Payne (48:23):
Who's just put her blackillustrations.com in the URL, in the chat.
Azeem Ahmad (48:26):
Awesome. Firstly, I'm just going to put it out there. So I'm recorded. At some point, when this is over, I'm definitely gonna meet and have a coffee, tea, whatever, with all you guys including Joy. You're an absolute legend. How I feel about that term. I'm not very comfortable with it because it puts us all in one box. Black people are different, Asian people are different. And those of you who know me will know, I often make, you know, jokes. I use humour as a form of basically protection because this shit's been going on all my life, right. I'm not comfortable with it. I'm more comfortable with the term people of colour, but I'm still not comfortable with that. Essentially the way the conversations I see are being framed now is white people and everybody else. And I think the term BAME does not really represent Black people properly, because it puts everybody together. Like the Oxford tweet who really wanted to put out there, the fact that they're recruiting more Black students when actually they weren't, and it just puts everybody in a box, not comfortable with that. People of colour I'm more comfortable with. So yeah, that's that.
Jon Payne (49:37):
There's no real perfect answer I presume, right?
Azeem Ahmad (49:39):
No. I've got one of my very good friends is Black. And he works for a bank and he's very, very senior in the bank. He's been in banking all his life. He's only, the only Black person in a senior leadership team of 125 people. And I'm going to send him the recording, because he's an absolute hero of mine. He just said to his manager on the off chance, when everything kicked off and Blackout Tuesday happened, he said, look, I really want us to have a conversation really, because I'm feeling a little bit uncomfortable with the fact that I'm the only, the only Black man here. I don't see myself when we're sat around the boardroom, or the digital boardroom, I don't see myself here, that has blown up absolutely massively since. So they've had like a webinar similar to this where the whole leadership team got involved.
Azeem Ahmad (50:27):
Everybody started talking about it. It's gone through now through the whole company. And he's literally now doing like an ask me anything panel.
Jon Payne (50:35):
Azeem Ahmad (50:35):
And the reason why I'm talking about that is because I'm hoping that the people on this webinar who are either on it or who are receiving the recording, start to have these conversations, please make it happen. Use some of these things, the actions are put in there, let's try and make change. Cause I think the time for awareness is it's gone now, we're all aware. It's proper time for action. Don't just, I said to John earlier, I said.
Jon Payne (51:03):
Ah, he's gone again.
Claire Dibben (51:06):
Yeah, he's gone for me as well.
Jon Payne (51:06):
While he's frozen, I'm going to just address a couple of the questions in the chat. I might not be the right person to address them. But if anybody else wants to answer these questions, I can unmute you, if we, if everybody wants to continue the discussion just shout out in the chat. But one of the things I'm just going to extend it so I can see if anybody does. One of the things about that. How do you, that thing about we want the best person for the job and culture fit and all of that kind of stuff. One of the dangers I would suggest is that it's that unconscious bias thing, Hannah, you mention it. I don't know how we fix it. I, I, there is a resource and I wish I was better read on this cause I would remember the resource very quickly.
Jon Payne (51:55):
I will put something in an email that kind of addresses that in the, in the followup email because I know HubSpot have worked really hard on this. We're a HubSpot partner. And so we we've been witness to some of the stuff they're doing. And they're really challenging themselves. And making themselves uncomfortable, a lot of the time about doing it. And, ah! Rooney Rule. That was it. That's what they've started to do. I don't know whether you've heard of the really Rooney Rule. It's something that we've talked about at Noisy Little Monkey. But the Rooney Rule was, they were, they were employing NFL coaches. And, and I know that this is not a particularly inclusive organisation. But one of the, that's it US football manager. And they were looking at them and they were going, oh, the guy who owned the team, hello again, Azeem.
Azeem Ahmad (52:48):
Don't use Zoom, I hate Zoom.
Jon Payne (52:49):
The guy who owns the team said, actually there are no, there are no, I think he was Black.
Jon Payne (53:00):
So he said there were no Black managers. What we need to do is to employ managers or people of seniority in this team, and in the wider, in the wider league is make sure that we do not appoint someone until we have interviewed three, it was Black is the quote, so I'm going to use Black, three Black people. But we could argue that the thing you could do here is say, we're not going to do it until we've interviewed three people of colour. Yes, it makes the whole hiring thing hard, but it enables us people who are in a white bias place that we know that it's conscious bias. And we know we can't get round down our unconscious bias, actually, okay. Talk to three people. The beauty of that is, and I've got to thank Joy and Sunjay who I rely on so many times when I get stuck, is it means you go and you ask people of colour, difficult questions.
Jon Payne (53:56):
Like where can I go? Where can I find more people that I can, that we can invite to our interviews because we're advertising in the wrong place, or we're, and part of the beauty of doing something like this is, actually just doing this, makes it so that we're more likely to get applicants from people of colour. But it is just that thing of think about the Roony Rule, look at the Rooney Rule, we'll try and put something else in the, in the email that follows up it was a tick box exercise, but actually if you do it, if you're on this call and you're doing it, I suspect that actually you're doing it from a position of authenticity and truth. I know Joy once said to me, look, sometimes it's going to feel like tokenism, but it's only because you've not done it before. Second time you do it. It's not tokenism anymore. So yeah, thanks. Yeah. I love the skip the interview process entirely.
Jon Payne (54:56):
I think, so I think we had a couple of other questions.
Azeem Ahmad (55:01):
I'll just very quickly finish that point because you kicked me out. It literally said you have been kicked out. It said error user too brown. No, I'm joking. I'm joking. In fact, let me tell you about that. Right? I had a very old Samsung phone and convinced, and I could never prove, I'm convinced that it was racist, right? Because I put on the front facing camera and it would say you would make better pictures if you cleaned your lens. My white friend looks at it, no problem at all. Put it back on myself. I think you should clean your lens. And I just wanted to chuck the phone. I could never prove that, but the other point I was going to make which I got disconnected. I was just going to say this, and I hope that this lasts with everyone who's with us and in the recording, if you asked a hundred people, if they wanted to make the world more diverse and more inclusive or their own workplaces, more diverse, more inclusive, majority of them would say yes, except for that 9%, who would say no.
Azeem Ahmad (56:00):
Arseholes.. Yeah. If you asked a hundred people, if you told them what they'd need to do in order to effect that change, that's when it gets difficult, because then you realise the scale of the work that needs to happen. And I think that is the best way to put it actual hands, dirty work needs to be done. I don't think we should just say, oh, look at this. This is 6% people of colour and this is... We've got to actually now do stuff, talk about stuff and say, look, we're going to be better. This is how we'll do it by this, this and this.
Jon Payne (56:33):
Yeah. Well, let's, let's, let's end it there that the hard work has to, has already begun for, for many people. And for some of us, and for all of us, it needs to continue.
Jon Payne (56:46):
I agree, whole heartedly. Oddly enough, after you and me being a bit panicky about this, Azeem, because it's a difficult subject for me, actually looking at the chat, this is, this has been one of the most uplifting sessions we've ever run, but no, it is bar none, the most uplifting, uplifting session we've ever run. So, and you're very much to thank for that, Azeem, thank you for that. Thank you everybody. And we'll see you in a couple of weeks, maybe if not, we'll see you here soon. Thanks so much. I'm glad you're clapping Joy. See you guys.
Founder and Technical Director of Noisy Little Monkey, Jon blogs about SEO and digital marketing strategy.
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