Author Amanda Patterson, City Business Library
Our Business research support officer, Amanda caught up with Graham, Co-founder and COO of Collazon a forward thinking start-up who are working towards transforming equality and diversity in the corporate world.
What does equality mean to you? Have you ever felt out of place, overlooked or demeaned because of something about you? Does your workplace have a diversity policy? Is it in place to make a difference or as a box ticking exercise? What can you do about it?
Graham spent many years working in a corporate environment in leadership positions, often asked to support diversity policies, drive strategy for equality and employee engagement surveys – not for true equality or diversity – but to develop a positive image for the brand. Graham asked himself, “is this really the point of diversity? No!” He thought, “a resounding no!”
“Everyone supported diversity on the surface,” says Graham, “but when working within the business I didn’t see non-LGBTQ+ live and breathe diversity, many of the board members were male, straight and caucasian – so I questioned where is the diversity and how do I truly fit in to this organisation? Board members and other leadership would be reluctant to spend money on investing in LGBTQ+ initiatives, they would only want to support Pride so they could include the rainbow in their company banner and drive their business and their brand. The LGBTQ+ Community deserves more.”
Graham set up his business, Collazon, to match global opportunities to freelancers with true equality at its centre. “Collazon’s ethos and passion is committed to creating a practical, simple, fair and effective services trading platform across a global community, with a specific focus on diversity.” Graham says of his business. “The future of work is changing; we really need to listen to people as to how and where they want to work, how work can enrich their personal goals and how it can support their ambitions.”
“Collazon lives and breathes diversity, as an LGBTQ+ founder myself I know that until companies have representatives from all diversity groups in their leadership, they will never be able to bring true equality into their workforce.” Employees are more likely to work for an organisation that has a robust LGBTQ+ strategy at the heart of their business. Consumers and employees have more information at their fingertips about the brands that they want to work for, meaning that more often than not, a strong potential employee could find out more about the culture of the business before starting a new job.
For Graham, starting a business as an LGBTQ+ founder required help, “A lot of positive change has happened throughout recent decades, but there is more to come. You have a unique opportunity as an LGBTQ+ founder to support this change, reach out to LGBTQ+ mentors, help is always there if you need it, and hopefully one day you can help another young LGBTQ+ founder in an even more diverse world.”
“If you’re a freelancer looking to work in a positive environment, Collazon can match you to projects, start-ups and companies quickly. For start-ups, Collazon can match you to dedicated, diverse experts.” Collazon is designed to manage and ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.
Find out more about Collazon:
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/collazon/
Starting your own business? The City Business Library can connect you to resources, networks and events to help you. Whether you are looking for a dedicated business advisor to help you write your own diversity strategy into your business plan, network with other founders or research diverse businesses, we can hook you up.
Learn more about the City Business Library on the CBL website. There are business one-to-ones, market research resources, seminars, networking and events.
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