Talk About Black Debate: Does Minority Background Influence Hiring Decisions?

To celebrate Black History Month ,’Talk About Black’ (TAB) hosted a thought-provoking debate  around the challenging question: ‘Does being from a minority background influence hiring decisions?’ Bruin were proud sponsors of the event.

Carlos Pereira, Chief Privacy Officer of Willis Towers Watson (WTW) opened the evening  by emphasising TAB’s mission to drive action and meaningful change, stressing the importance of addressing issues surrounding diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Justin Onuekwusi, Chief Investment  Officer of St. James’s Place and Co-Founder of TAB, delivered a keynote address that framed the event’s discussions. He discussed the need for individuals and organisations to embrace discomfort in their pursuit of meaningful change. Onuekwusi’s call to “become uncomfortable to get comfortable” encapsulated the evening’s core theme and encouraged attendees to step outside their comfort zones in the pursuit of equity.

Onuekwusi also highlighted the progress made in the wake of events in 2020, stressing that significant conversations and initiatives have transpired. However, he emphasised that genuine equity remains an elusive goal. Okunwesi reminded the audience that “progress does not equal victory”, drawing attention to the underrepresentation of black and minority individuals at C-suite level in many organisations. He addressed the notion of “conversation fatigue” which has been expressed by some companies, suggesting that the debate aimed to reinvigorate these critical discussions. The timing, occurring during Black History Month, made the debate all the more poignant and timely.

The event continued with an address by Emily Ayre, Managing Director of Bruin. Ayre reaffirmed Bruin’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, highlighting the crucial role financial services recruiters play in assisting clients in hiring and attracting diverse talent. She also highlighted Bruin’s active engagement as members of 10,000 Black Interns, a program that works to transform the prospects and horizons of black students. Bruin also partners with The Skills Workshop which helps young people cultivate the skills needed to succeeded in the corporate world; and Programme One an organisation that claims to address the underrepresentation of Black Talent in the recruitment industry.

The debate unfolded to feature compelling arguments from both the opposition and the proposition. Each side presented equally thought- interesting perspectives, driving home the complexities and nuances surrounding the question of whether being from a minority background influences hiring decisions.

After a robust exchange of ideas and a well-structured debate, the proposition emerged victorious. The outcome demonstrated the significance of continued discourse on these crucial matters.

The debate can be summarised as follows:

The Proposition:

  • Presented arguments around the ‘myth of meritocracy’ outlining why meritocracy does not exist
  • Explained historical inequality in both the work place and wider society
  • Using ‘Unconscious Bias’ to weave the aforementioned points together

The Opposition:

  • Began by acknowledging historical inequality
  • Put forward their belief that substantial progress has been achieved
  • Corporate accountability is now what is at the centre of hiring and outweighed the implications provided by ‘Unconscious Bias’

The debate served as a platform for leaders and influencers to engage with this pressing issue, highlighting both the progress made and the work that remains.

The debate may not have provided definitive answers, but it undeniably spurred a fresh wave of enthusiasm for meaningful deliberations surrounding the topic. The ongoing conversation around diversity and inclusion remains a critical force in shaping the future of the workforce and society as a whole.