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Meet the men behind an innovative black British network

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Dotun Olaleye and Ayo Akande

RESEARCH INDICATES that ethnic minority groups are expected to double over the next 2 decades to between 20 and 30% by 2050 from the current estimate of about 8million. A 2017 Government’s racial disparity audit reveals that BAME people have significant differences in their life outcomes in UK.

After growing frustrated at the lack of support for black Africans and Caribbeans in the workplace and in business across the UK, Dotun Olaleye and Ayo Akande launched Connect4Better, also known as, Cee4Bee in July 2015.

Cee4Bee is a non-profit organisation which aims to tackle some of core issues that have been barriers to the black British community.

The black British community is twice as likely to be unemployed, more likely to work in lower paid and lower skilled jobs and are under-represented at senior levels across public sector, less likely to own a home.

Black African and black Caribbeans, 2 of the top 5 largest distinct categories ranked as 3rd and 4th groups most likely to be in persistent poverty. Factors responsible are numerous, including lack of adequate levels of skills, lack of visible role models guidance, low confidence, inappropriate mind set, work place discrimination and more; and Cee4Bee wants to change things.

“In 2015, Dotun was already a Finance Director covering a few schools and had seen first-hand how he was the only representation of any black minority in senior management compared with the majority who were in lower cadres support staff including cleaners, security guards and kitchen staff," said Ayo Akande.

"There have been numerous studies and research papers produced on the issues facing the black community in the UK and yet it feels as though there has been very little tangible and visible change.

In order for the black community to fully thrive and maximise their full potential, there must be more than lip service to the diversity agenda. We exist to provide adequate support to increase chances of success and progress for BME individuals across the world of work and in business”

With their passion and dedication, the initiative has now grown with a core team of 12 volunteers and many more who support on a one off basis including events day support in addition to senior professionals who act as advisers.

Their network offers support, mentoring, webinars and events which have included a number of influential keynote speakers. Since they launched in 2015 they have hosted, 19 free face to face events, 5 webinars and 2 workshops with over 500 attendees in total attending events.

Akande and Olaleye want to reduce the statistics surrounding poverty within the black community and want to see more black African-Caribbeans breaking the glass ceiling in the corporate world and in business.

Using education and available resources within the community, especially with the help of role models they are set to make a difference and make an impact on the diversity and inclusion agenda by empowering the community.

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