From 2020 Vision, to 2021 Action

In 2020, it took a pandemic to uncover the atrocious disparities between races. Clearly illustrated by the fact that Black and ethnic minority groups were four times as likely to die from COVID-19 compared to people of white ethnicity. This year, people also began to wake up to police brutality and other forms of aggressive discrimination that do not require hard-hitting statistics, just a person with a camera.

Because of this, people have begun to take Diversity and Inclusion to the next level. The first step is doing the necessary research into racial disparities to guide impactful decision making. The British Business Bank’s recent report ‘Alone Together: Entrepreneurship and Diversity in the UK’ is an ideal example of this; one that Incubators, Accelerators, and Innovation centres alike need to read. This report examines the profound effects ethnic and economic background, gender and location have on entrepreneurial opportunities. It also communicates why there is a significant lack of businesses run by underrepresented individuals.

After starting a business, Black business owners have a median turnover of just £25,000, compared to £35,000 for white business owners. Access to finance, deprivation, education, and under-representation in senior workforce positions help explain these disparities. Additionally, we need to consider the intersectionality of classism as 43% of seed funding goes to funding teams with at least one member from Oxbridge or Ivy League universities. Our system is poised to support the ‘elite’, moving that glass ceiling further and further away. Systemic disadvantage plays a role as racial discrimination affects people’s academic and educational opportunities, leading to Black and minority ethnic groups in poorer socioeconomic circumstances. Not to mention the mental health implications that develop, creating mental barriers on top of physical and societal ones.

Diversity and Inclusion have come into the forefront this year, for that I am glad. But 2021 will be about delivering on those promises and making sure important reports like these don’t get lost. This is invaluable information that explains to people who still may be sceptical of why we need change, offering clear reasons and ideas on how to improve. Following Blackout Tuesday, this year we decided one of the ways to make a tangible impact on Diversity and Inclusion was through supporting more underrepresented entrepreneurs. In 2021, we plan to start taking the steps towards achieving this with our action plan. Check out The British Business Bank’s report here and find out how they intend to make progress for entrepreneurs facing disadvantage. 2021, here’s looking at you!

This year Sussex Innovation launched #100Stories, a video and podcast series intended to provide a platform for people of colour to share their experiences of prejudice and journeys to success. You can listen to the full playlist featuring all the interviews in the series here.