Emmanuel Lawrence

Doug Woodburn
clock • 3 min read
Emmanuel Lawrence

Emmanuel Lawrence

Director of business development, SHI

What's the most pressing issue preventing progress with diversity today that no one's talking about?

Proximity bias - with an increasing number of organisations, especially within the technology sector, adopting remote or hybrid working, the potential to view colleagues whom we see most often in the office more favourably over those who are working remotely or in the office less frequently is increasing. This could lead to exceptional candidates getting overlooked for progression, simply because they are not seen as much as their counterparts.

What do you believe are the most effective policies and initiatives that companies can implement to promote diversity in their workforce?

Create ‘Company Holidays' - an entitlement of additional days given to employees to book at their discretion. These can then be used to celebrate days of religious obligation or as personal days. We can ensure there are more multifaith rooms within our offices, for those who wish to exercise their religious obligations. And we can evaluate senior leadership teams to ensure that they too, value the benefits and principals of DEI, from the top down.

How much progress do you believe the industry has made in diversity since you started working in IT?

I joined the IT industry in 2016. There has been a recognisable increase in diverse representation across the industry during this time, which has been fantastic to see. Most notably, the number of women earning senior leadership positions at OEMs, publishers and our competitors.

What should senior management teams be doing more of to help create a more inclusive industry for everyone?

Encourage diverse discourse - having banners, marketing posts and so on is good, but to continue the education, senior leaders should encourage open dialogue, and allow for others to broaden their understanding by asking questions and teaching one another about their cultures, religions and so on.

How did you first get into the IT industry?

I was headhunted by SHI's internal Talent Acquisition Team. I've always had a passion for technology. From a young age, I was the cliched child that used to pull apart their dad's old laptops and PCs to see what was inside. I never imagined that it'd be possible to earn a living by simply evangelising technology's ability of enable and empower our lives.

What have been some of your experiences (both good and bad) with how the IT industry has historically approached diversity?

I have found the IT industry and SHI to be extremely open and welcoming. I have never been made to feel that my ethnicity has hindered my progression in any way - I have always been commended on my ability and the value that I bring. 

Who have been your biggest role models in your professional life, and how have they helped you to succeed?

My father. He came to the UK with very little after winning a scholarship to Salford University to study chemical engineering, leaving his entire family behind, at a time when people from multicultural or non-white backgrounds were not readily accepted (this was in the late 1960s and early 70s). He followed my grandfather's advice "to be considered equal, you must be slightly better". This compelled him to go on to achieve a first-class BSc with Honours and an eventual MBA. While building his own career, he saved money, which was sent back home and used to fund the further education of his siblings, and to contribute towards the upkeep of the family home.

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