HeForShe – Paul Sesay, Founder of The Diversity Group, says women are the backbone of society

Paul SeasayGender discrimination should no longer be a topic of discussion in this day and age, according to Paul Sesay, founder of The Diversity Group, who recently spoke to WeAreTheCIty about his support for the United Nation’s HeForShe Campaign.

The Diversity Group was launched in 2006 to promote equality, diversity and inclusion by eliminating barriers in the workforce through offering employment, education and training opportunities for diverse groups across the UK.

The firm focuses on age, disability, gender, LGBT, race, faith and religion, offering opportunities through The Diversity Group Directory and The Diversity Group Jobsite.

Paul is also the founder of two awards series. The National Diversity Awards, which showcases role models, entrepreneurs and community organisations from grass-root communities, and the Excellence in Diversity Awards, which celebrates “Inclusive Employers and Diversity Champions”.

He explained why he passionately supports diversity and the importance of shining a light on role models: “I was fostered and went through several different homes. I was fostered by black and white people. I also shared a bedsit with gay guys for a period of time – I was fostered by all and helped by all. Diversity should be everyone and should include everyone.”

“When I was 15/16 I was on my own with few role models and little ambition, so at the age of 19 I moved from Leeds to Liverpool with just £25 in my pocket and a bag full of clothes. Once I arrived at Liverpool two role models took me under their wing and made me realise I could be someone in this world. I went through various career changes, and eventually I stumbled upon sales which I was really good at. Later on in my career I landed a job as an Equality Advisor for a popular diversity publication, which was a dream job”

Sesay said he has been influenced by several female role models throughout his childhood and into his career: “There have been lots of women role models who have influenced me along the way. I found there was more compassion from women and I felt more comfortable growing up around women. They are the backbone of society and we shouldn’t still be discussing gender barriers in 2015.”

He pointed out that “role models do not always see themselves as role models” which is an issue when trying to find women that are willing to come forward and discuss their careers to inspire others: “Usually role models just see themselves as doing a job that’s needed, but often they are people that are influencing change.”

He said he believes that change will not happen until those who are in senior positions start setting an example within their own companies: “Change needs to come from the top and men need to become champion gender changers too.”

Sesay noted that the UK is trailing behind several other European countries on gender diversity, which is something the country needs to address: “You would think that we have moved forward in the UK, but compared to other European countries we’re far behind. We should be asking ourselves why? Diversity is important to have at senior levels, so change can happen. There’s no point in having all men, when something is being marketed to women.”

He encouraged women to question things within their own firms and to shout about their own achievements more: “Women need to address why they’re not getting the promotions – they need to shout about it more. Men shout about their achievements all the time.

“It has been a man’s world for so long, that going into a boardroom can be a scary thing – women need to go in and say here I am, and question the status quo”.

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