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Academic makes the case for equality and diversity in research project

Students in Canary Wharf

Findings aim to push for changes in corporate culture

A senior University of East London academic has been exploring the issue of race and inclusivity for a research project that aims to shape national policy on diversity in the workplace.

Dr Olajumoke Okoya, known as Jummy, from the Royal Docks School of Business and Law, carried out the eight-week research project under the auspices of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

The senior lecturer said, “The main aim of the project is to provide a vehicle to create more diverse organisations by driving change through professional leadership and management practices.

“The research specifically investigated race issues such as microaggression, white privilege, the concept of allyship and ways to create an anti-racist organisation and society. We investigated the challenges of achieving race equality in the workplace and in society at large and what can be done to start to move the needle with practical guidance.”

The final report, entitled CMI Race 2020 offers recommendations to government, policy makers and the business community. The report was published on 30 October and it is available to download.

Dr Okoya has a depth of experience in the field. As an equality and diversity (E&D) expert she leads on developing E&D strategy and develops programmes to improve gender parity, inclusive workplace and monitoring E&D data. 

She is chair of the Women's Network at the University of East London and in November 2019 she was named as number four on a list of the 50 most inspirational Black women in the UK compiled by Sky TV’s Pauline Long Show.

She said, “My experience as the women’s network & Athena Swan lead at UEL, contribution to AdvanceHE Aurora programme on future leaders, and regional leadership for Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development on equality, diversity and belonging has given me the understanding of the challenges and issues related to inclusion.

“This research will hopefully impact the wider community, managers, organisations and community leaders and inspire them to promote a more equitable organisation and society using the practical advice and tools in the report.”

The CMI Race project was established in 2017 and set out its mission to make diversity a business-critical issue for every organisation and leader, challenging the low level of ethnic minority representation at executive and board level.

Dr Okoya said, “Race equality should be prioritised by organisations if they are going to tap into the wealth of talents available in their employees from ethnic diverse background. Not doing that will have serious implications for their wellbeing and performance at work.

“Commitment to race equality should be evident by having a senior leader championing the cause and promoting race conversation and by ensuring that it stays on the agenda regularly.”

Professor Mohammad Ali, Dean of the Royal Docks School of Business and Law, said, “The University’s Vision 2028 strategy makes our priorities very clear. One is that our research should have a tangible benefit to the community, locally and nationally. This, coupled with our core values around equality, diversity and inclusion, means that Dr Okoya’s work is not only fitting, but also timely and essential.”