· Features

If there are no black people in your senior team - something's up

Lanre Sulola? explores the impact of the lack of BAME representation in business through poetry and calls on HR leaders to take a stand.

Our Voice

Our voices are not being heard

Our faces are not being seen

Our skills and uniqueness not appreciated

Our identity not being acknowledged

The plight of a black person

In a big white world

Is not pleasing

Not easy to comprehend

Attend, any board meeting

You won’t find us

Senior leadership seems to be beyond us

If you just go by the numbers

Lumped into a group called BAME

Feels like a game

That big businesses play

‘Let’s tick some boxes

Show that we care

Let them have a network

Make them feel catered for

Dangle a small budget

To cover an event or two

Like bringing in your own food

A cultural event to lift the mood

Celebrate Black History month

Put on a few talks’

But never really talk

About what’s real

What matters and how to solve what’s going on

Doesn’t feel like we are trying to change the song

We have been singing for years

An enormous elephant in the room

That this group

Is not kept in the loop

When it comes to progression and engagement

Everyone talks inclusion

Shouts about diversity

However, it’s clear to see

That we are far behind

If there are no black people in your senior team

Something's up

If there are no black people getting promoted

Something's up

If black people are not speaking up in meetings

Something's up

If black people are not part of the vision setting and strategy

Something's up

I’m not talking affirmative action, quotas or helping hands

I’m talking for the good of the business

For the good of employees, customers, stakeholders

A whole population of leaders, thinkers and visionaries

Have been sitting on the sidelines

For too long

Made to feel inferior

Despite all the I&D talk

We are no nearer

To where we need to be

Stop wheeling black people out

Just for the I&D spot

Let them share the business experience

They have got

To transform, to innovate

To establish new ways of thinking

To be at the forefront

To shake up industries

To reawaken the spirit and energy

Within the corporate space

The sound of a black voice

Needs to be heard

Reverberated around the world

Listened to, admired and respected

Their content, ideas, experience analysed and dissected

To bring solutions, provide answers

And achieve company goals

Biases need to be broken

White privilege laid out in the open

The playing field needs levelling

The prospects for black employees

Has been dishevelling for too long

It’s time for change

If you are white and the presence of blackness is uncomfortable

Deal with it

Black people have been dealing with the discomfort

Of being the only black face in the room

All their working lives

There is no excuse for skirting around the topic

Changing the subject

Or putting your head in the sand

It’s the responsibility of all to take a stand

To call out what is not right

To fight for real inclusion

Black, white, Asian

Whatever your persuasion

Understand and recognize

The role that you play

In turning the tide

In closing the gaps

That have become far too wide

Representation is key

Lanre Sulola is a leadership coach, trainer and poet currently working as senior development coach and facilitator at Inner Ambitions.