The late Terry Hall and The Specials have arguably done more for diversity than any corporate could imagine. With an increasing focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), diversity and inclusion in the corporate world should ultimately start at the heart of the company’s ethos in what it stands for in society.
Rajesh Muru, analyst at GlobalData recalls: ‘It was the 70s and early 80s in the UK; as a first generation teen of Indian heritage, that previously had fled Uganda (like many others) in the early 70s after the dictator Idi Amin had expelled all Ugandan Asians from what was a British Colony. Growing up in the UK presented many challenges and opportunities.
‘It was alien at first in many ways, as families struggled to survive and fit in culturally, overcome language barriers, be given equal opportunities, and most of all overcome racism – the possibility of walking to town without being called a racist name or not being chased by skinheads was a mission in its own right. This was the reality of living in the 1970s and early 80s in Britain for a person of ethnic background.
‘But between all of these challenges in society, amongst all fellow school friends and adolescent acquaintances of English, Irish, West Indian, Italian, and South Asian heritage, there was something amazing happening, and that was ‘Music’.’
Music and love are the common platform
Britain has been at the forefront in the world of music, with originality and sounds. Right from the swinging sixties, with the Mod and Rock era, with bands like The Who and The Beatles. But the late 70s saw a mainstream revolution in music which built up on Britain’s diverse society.
Sure, there were still problems and pushbacks in society, but there came a wave of music that bought different races, cultures and backgrounds together in a harmonious way. This was the era of black soul music, and Ska music (which took its origins from the 60’s ska scene in Jamaica). Ska bands like The Specials, The Beat, and Jazz Funk group’s like Light of The World in the UK created sounds that sounded like ‘rain to the streets’.
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From these, The Specials, a Coventry based band in the UK, with front man Terry Hall, struck a chord and bridged the gap between different adolescent cultures and backgrounds. The Specials built a common platform that bought people together – a love for music. The Specials talked about real issues in society, they were unpretentious, saw everyone as equals (irrespective of color or background), and most of all delivered their message from within the heart. That’s why they connected, succeeded, and were loved by many.
What can the corporate world learn?
With an ever strong focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), diversity and inclusion in the corporate world is more important than ever. But the message is simple to corporates. It should not be approached with metric quotas in mind across for example how diverse your workforce is, or in how much you’ve invested in things like charitable causes supporting diversity.
It should ultimately start at the core heart of your company’s ethos in what you stand for in society, and the heart of that thinking should be nurturing a healthy working environment that takes employees as individuals, with love and respect, irrespective of where they are from – with this, they will give you one hundred percent.
Terry Hall, The Specials, RIP.