Time to represent – calling for diversity on ISE’s Board
Bob Athwal, Global Lead for Racial Diversity and Early Careers at Skyscanner and ISE Fellow, explains why you should apply to be on the ISE Board.
The global pandemic has changed so much. The biggest change for me personally was George Floyd and the reflection that ensued – for many years I have been focused on levelling the playing field for students and that will always continue, but what about our profession?
I was the first person of colour to be a Student Union president. 23 years on, and I am the first person of colour to be an ISE Fellow. While these will always be proud moments for me, it is frustrating that so little seems to have changed in all of those years.
Why do I often find myself as only one or two people of colour in a room, particularly in senior positions?
I do not have superpowers, I am not special and yet there are plenty of amazing Black heritage people who have held similar positions to me but have struggled to reach the more senior roles.
If we are truly going to change society to be representative of our country and professions, then we need more people to get involved and put themselves forward for roles such as the current vacancies on the ISE Board.
We have amazing allies in student recruitment and development, but we must bring our lived experiences and culture to the profession.
My plea to you who are Black and of Colour is to represent our heritage alongside our allies. Bring your experience, wisdom and insight to our professional body – they need it and I need it. We have to represent the change we have been long fighting for in society and in our organisations, and it starts with us.
Being a former ISE Board Director and now a Fellow have been a real privilege for me. I learnt so much being on the Board and I know that I enriched my peers too. I achieved many things such as taking forward the development agenda and creating several new awards including the partnership categories.
These experiences have helped me to hone my skills and build confidence as well as provided opportunities to network with peers globally.
What I have learnt has been transferable to my day job too – leading the transformation of an award-winning university careers service and now as an employer of early careers talent within tech.
My knowledge has become broader, my relationships deeper and my contributions wider.
I often wonder if this would have been possible if I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone and face imposter syndrome about my ability to contribute meaningful change.
So what you waiting for – get involved! Let’s represent and let’s add to our profession by embracing all viewpoints, experiences, backgrounds and identities.