As part of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’, I had the pleasure to interview Ketan Dattani.
Ketan Dattani is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur. He is the Founding Owner and CEO of Buckingham Futures, a specialist award-winning Environmental Recruitment Business that provides bespoke permanent and temporary recruitment and consultancy solutions to public and private sector employers.
Ketan holds over 20 years of recruitment experience and has a high profile within the sector. He is widely documented as an expert on Employment Law, Employee rights and for providing Careers Advice.
Outside of business, Ketan volunteers with a number of schools, colleges and universities providing careers guidance, CV & interview technique workshops, and conducting mock interviews with those looking to embark on a career within the environmental sector.
He also offers work experience programs and opportunities for students, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and adults with learning difficulties to help achieve their potential by giving them an insight into the world of work.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
It’s an absolute pleasure, and thank you for having me.
I was born and bred in Leicester to Gujarati parents who moved to the UK from Uganda. From Leicester, my parents moved to London when I was very young, which is where I’ve grown up.
I was raised with a strong sense of values — respect, hard work, integrity, humility, and a duty to help those less fortunate than me.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I have read so many great books. However, one particular book that has particularly resonated with me is ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad — What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money — That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not!’ by Robert T. Kiyosaki.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a book that I recurrently read. It has taught me the art of storytelling and persuasion and how Robert turned a simple idea, into a multi-million-dollar information product empire.
In the book he presents a persuasive narrative, that is very simple to grasp and tremendously relatable.
The way Robert simplifies multifaceted topics and makes them applicable to ordinary people is highly convincing and influential.
The biggest takeaways for me from the book are that the single most powerful asset we all have is our mind. If it is trained well, it can create enormous wealth and that most people never win because they’re afraid of losing, or failing.
Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad helped me to always look for opportunities where all parties benefit.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
My favourite quote has always been ‘Don’t Take Anything for Granted’.
One of the hardest things about improving your life is remembering to practice what you’ve learned, especially in a time of adversity.
I repetitively practice turning my thoughts toward appreciation, because that is where I find my strength and power.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
There are so many facets to leadership that it’s hard to define it within one act. Primarily, leadership is acting in a way in which others want to follow you, and believe in you.
Leadership is a skillset and a roadmap of actions. It’s about integrity, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, influence, and positivity.
Among the most critical leadership qualities and responsibilities is the ability to challenge and empower others to help them overcome their limitations.
Great leaders lead with vision, passion and empathy. They take people along their journey and make an effort to understand the human aspect of their teams.
When you earn leadership, you must not become complacent, but instead you have to continue to be unswerving in delivering leadership qualities.
Great leaders attract and inspire other great leaders, whom they trust to carry out a shared mission and instil a sense of purpose. They have the ability to build peers around them to be successful.
In order to get ahead in today’s fast-paced world, a leader must be creative and innovative at the same time. Creative thinking and constant innovation is what makes you and your team stand out from the crowd. Think out of the box to come up with unique ideas and turn those ideas and goals into reality.
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
Such a key topic that is not discussed often enough, so thank you for bringing it up.
Owning and running a business can be stressful at times but I never let it hold me back.
My morning starts with a 5:00 am walk with my dog. He is my greatest teacher of mindfulness and has taught me to live in the moment and to slow down whilst taking in my surroundings and experiences without judgment.
During our walks, I try to focus on my breathing and my five senses. Over time I have learnt to train my mind to be less cluttered and more focused.
By 6:00 am I am in the gym. I find that too has a positive effect on my mood by reducing any emotional intensity, further clearing my thoughts, boosting my confidence levels and allowing me to deal with any issues more calmly throughout the rest of the day.
The repetitive motions involved in exercise promote a focus on my body, rather than my mind. By concentrating on the rhythm of my movements, I experience many of the same benefits of meditation while working out.
I also make time every week help others, through activities such as volunteering or community work and always look for the positives in life, and things for which I am grateful.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?
My own family is multi-ethnic (Ugandan Indian, Greek Cypriot and Irish). As a parent, I was of the opinion that we shouldn’t talk about race because I didn’t want to raise my 4 children to be aware of differences — and to see everyone as equal. I now understand that racism is an incredibly important conversation and should not be avoided.
When discussing the protests across the world, it became apparent my children had no concept that we live in a world in which everyone doesn’t get equal treatment.
Moreover, recent events have highlighted to me just how much bias actually exists in the United States.
Growing up in a city like London meant that from an early age I was exposed to many different beliefs and ethnicity. Growing up in a diverse community has allowed me to see people for who they are without focusing on what religion they practice or what country they come from or what color their skin is, something I am incredibly grateful for.
Sadly, a lot of people are not as fortunate. They live within socio-economic enclaves. This means that the majority of people they interact with are of the same ethnic background and share their same views.
As a result, some groups may not have been fully conscious of discrimination issues that have existed for a long time within minority communities and because these issues have not been dealt with in an open and honest way, they have inevitably reached a boiling point founded by years of inactivity, frustration and outright anger.
The crisis, however, seems to have bought people together and to acknowledge that enough is enough and it is because of this boiling point everyone, everywhere is having conversations that question their own beliefs, values and education.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?
Diversity and Inclusion is an area I have always been passionate about and have advocated for my entire life.
At Buckingham Futures, we celebrate the unique and diverse backgrounds that each individual brings to the workplace and we strive to create an inclusive work space where employees are appreciated for their individuality and therefore comfortable being their authentic self.
To attract a more diverse pool of candidates, I have consciously created a company that reflects this. An employer that shows inclusiveness and welcomes people from all walks of life will, by its very nature, attract people from all walks of life.
We have a completely unbiased, inclusive and equal interview process. All of my team are from different ethnicity and backgrounds. Having a diverse team (in age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender) as a panel of interviewers helps establish that Buckingham Futures is inclusive and welcoming.
Potential candidates see how diverse we are and how important that aspect of my business is.
This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
For me it is a simple reason — we are more successful, we have more fun, and we make better decisions when we surround ourselves with people of diverse backgrounds and views.
Making Diversity and Inclusion a part of company culture has put Buckingham Futures ahead of the curve, and focusing specifically on my executive team has helped facilitate a top-down approach, so that it trickles through the entire business.
It communicates to staff, that there is a pathway to leadership and shows them a concrete example of what it looks like.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”. Kindly share a story or example for each.
From a business owners’ perspective, I would say the five steps we must take are:
1. Walk the talk and spearhead meaningful changes at the workplace that allow minority talent to thrive and prosper.
2. Inspire others to support your vision. Nobody can make a significant change on their own.
3. Create opportunities for underrepresented people and identify ways to reach out to talent within underrepresented populations.
4. Create unbiased hiring and promotion criteria to ensure accountability in retention and promotion of a diverse workforce by putting measures in place that ensure you’re recruiting from a varied hiring pool and championing diversity in your hiring process.
5. Ensure to listen, learn and understand without judgment and to build stronger systems that are comprised of the diversity and collaboration of people.
We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?
It’s a difficult time, but yes, I am optimistic about getting to a place where the terms “inclusion” and “diversity” become functionally archaic because the process of equality is simply a part of every-day life.
For that to happen it’s important to recognize that we are all capable and responsible for being stewards of change.
We all have to work together. We have to be attentive. If we see something we believe is not right, we need to talk about it and not wait for things to get to where they’ve gotten.
Moving forward, we cannot build a new all-encompassing world with only a small fraction of humanity making all of the decisions. Progression needs to be inclusive.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
It would be an absolute pleasure to have breakfast or lunch Elon Musk.
He is an innovator in every sense of the word and his approach to life is so authentic and well-planned.
He is one of the most important thought leaders of our time and is showing the world how entrepreneurs are the ones who lead to real change.
I find it particularly inspiring that his confidence is not steeped in technology, but in people and his belief in the capabilities humans hold, and the responsibilities of what it means to be the controlling species on earth.
How can our readers follow you online?
I am active on Instagram and LinkedIn.
They can connect with me (https://www.instagram.com/ketanova and https://www.linkedin.com/in/recruitmentandconsultancy) or follow my company pages (https://www.instagram.com/buckinghamfutures/ and https://www.linkedin.com/company/buckingham-futures/?viewAsMember=true).
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!