What Can Technology Companies Learn from the Evolution of Music Across the UK?

R. Muru

Summary Bullets:

• Diversity should not be approached solely with metric quotas in mind.

• Diversity should ultimately start at the heart of a corporate’s ethos for what they stand for in society, and in nurturing an inclusive working environment.

Learn From the Music Industry: Understanding Challenges in Society, and What Brings People Together

Growing up in the UK in the 70s and early 80s presented many challenges and opportunities for adolescents of ethnic backgrounds. For many it was an alien country, as families struggled to survive and fit in culturally, overcome language barriers, be given equal opportunities, and most of all overcome racism. But between all of these challenges in society, amongst all fellow adolescent acquaintances of English, Irish, West Indian, Italian, and South Asian heritage, there was something amazing happening, and that was music. 
Britain has been at the forefront in the world of music, with originality and sounds. Right from the swinging sixties, with the mod and rock era. But the late 70s saw a mainstream revolution in music which built up on Britain’s diverse society.

here were still problems and pushbacks in society, but there came a wave of music that bought different races, cultures and backgrounds together in a harmonious way. This was the era of black soul music, and ska music (which took its origins from the 60’s ska scene in Jamaica). Ska bands like The Specials and The Beat created sounds that sounded like ‘rain on the streets.’

From these, The Specials, a Coventry based band in the UK, with front man Terry Hall, struck a chord and bridged the gap between different adolescent cultures and backgrounds. The Specials built a common platform that brought people together – a love for music. The Specials talked about real issues in society, they were unpretentious, saw everyone as equals (irrespective of color or background), and most of all delivered their message from within the heart. That’s why they connected, succeeded, and were loved by many.

Technology Sector: Lessons to Learn

With a strong focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG), diversity and inclusion in the technology sector is more important than ever. But the message is simple to corporates. Diversity and inclusion should not solely be approached with metric quotas in mind in areas like how diverse the company’s workforce is, or in how much the company has invested in things like charitable causes supporting diversity.

Diversity and inclusion should ultimately start at the heart of a corporate’s ethos in what the company stands for in society, and the heart of that thinking should be nurturing a healthy working environment that takes employees as individuals, with love and respect, irrespective of where their origin.

But there are a number of immediate steps that technology companies can take. As an example, some of these include creating an environment of belonging and ensuring employees feel valued. Companies should also promote individualism and inspire employees to bring in new ideas, new ways of working, and values. And in ensuring that individuals are rewarded in line with the market for their efforts, particularly at uncertain times like recession.

Education and training are also key, particularly in technology segments like cybersecurity where there is a shortage of talent.

Lastly, corporates should acknowledge that all forms of discrimination will exist in their organization, even though this might be subtle, but could ultimately make or break a decision about an individual employee. Therefore, there needs to be more effective processes in place that limit these situations from arising, e.g., ensuring the hiring process across all stages of recruitment includes a collective hiring team from diverse backgrounds, thus removing bias throughout the recruitment process. Lastly, there should also be regular audits conducted across lines of businesses on diversity and inclusion – these should entail anonymous surveys with employees.


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