Following the death of George Floyd in America on May 25th 2020 whilst in police custody, there was a global response to and acknowledgement of systemic racism. This response included statements on the issue of institutional racism from many of the world’s largest corporations, including our own Partners. The strength of Innovation Gateway has always come through the diversity in collaboration of our Partnership, including NatWest, Tesco, Nottingham City Council, Unite Students, University of Birmingham, Kingfisher and Greene King.
In the weeks since, we have been taking the time to think about how we can best support our Partners, as well as reflecting on ourselves as an organisation. We have reached the same conclusion as other businesses and individuals across the world; we simply must do better. To be passive is to be an accessory. In the words of Desmond Tutu, ‘if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’
During this period of reflection, we have realised that there is a wider issue of underrepresentation in the innovators we work with. In order to bring the latest and greatest innovations to our Partners, we must cast our net as wide as possible to make sure that no group of society is left out.
For this reason, we will be looking to forge close relationships with accelerators and VCs that focus on underrepresented groups in start-ups, from minority ethnicities to LGBT+ and women.
Although we are lucky to have worked with some fantastic female entrepreneurs over the years – such as Carrieann O’Connell at Everything Water and Agnes Czako at the award-winning AirEx to name just a couple – women too have been underrepresented. Multiple studies have found how damaging and wasteful this can be, and therefore we will work harder than ever to support female entrepreneurs too.
And while we have previously sourced many innovations to improve customer accessibility for our Partners, and as a result of this we have worked with some disabled innovators, we feel that this is another part of society with whom we must engage more frequently.
Through these actions, we hope to be able to provide previously overlooked individuals with the fantastic opportunity of working with our Partners in transforming their buildings. We are also reviewing our own internal policies to make sure that diversity, a key driver of innovation, is at the heart of what we do.
Now more than ever, we’re here to guide you through our shared global challenges, giving you access to intelligence, insight and inspiration – wherever you are. Please get in touch if you have any questions, comments, insights, experience or solutions.
By Matt Workman, Innovation Collaboration Manager