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Hue Founder Fahad Khawaja on Building a Better Future for BIPOC Employees

In 2021, Hue, a tech-enabled community platform and culture consultancy, released their inaugural report, Unsafe, Unheard, Unvalued: A State of Inequity, which included powerful statistics that showcased the inequities experienced by employees of color across several dimensions of the workplace. After the release of their second annual report in 2022, Hue founder Fahad Khawaja summed up the findings in a guest post for our blog: “How to Future-proof Our Companies and Communities as the Great Resignation Continues.”

Now that Hue has released their third report, State of Inequity: Building a Better Future for BIPOC at Work, we sat down with Fahad to talk about what’s changed since last year, what hasn’t, and what action he hopes people will take after processing the new data.

Lonny Pugh: We’re big believers that to get where you want to go, first you need to understand where you are. Could you talk a bit about what originally drove you to create this annual report, and what you hope it can accomplish?

Fahad Khawaja: Hue was built to help bridge the gap between leaders of color and organizations looking to recruit and retain top talent. Our work helps position companies for sustainable growth, with community and culture at the core. And we can’t make sustainable change without data and measurable action. So we created this report to demonstrate the deep inequity faced by BIPOC employees and to apply actionable insights to drive progress.

LP: Is there one statistic that stayed with you from the inaugural report? What changed, or didn’t, since then?

FK: In 2021, more than 75% of Americans reported that their companies did not invest in recruiting racially diverse candidates. This year, we looked back on the multi-year trend and found that since 2020, 85% of Americans said their companies haven’t invested.

The reality is that there’s a lack of investment compared to public commitments that companies have made. Although $650 billion is spent annually on recruiting, marketing, and diversity, only 1% is put toward diversity-related issues.

LP: Could you share a few of what you feel are the most important and impactful stats from this new report?

FK: Nearly 85% of Americans report their companies have not invested financially in recruiting racially diverse employees since June 2020.

One in four of all BIPOC employees report they have not had the same opportunities and chances to succeed as any other person within their company.

Nearly one in three Black and Latine employees say they have changed career direction or industry due to lack of mobility or career growth.

Seven in 10 Americans still agree they would leave a job where their employer does not prioritize mental and emotional health and well-being. This is slightly higher for BIPOC at nearly 73%, and much higher among Non-White Hispanics/Latines (85%) and Black Americans (78%).

Leaders and employers must listen to their communities in order to best serve them—and the data shows that they aren’t. But they don’t have to go it alone. That’s why organizations like Hue exist. We help leaders and companies understand their gaps and help them work toward creating a culture that better supports their employees.

LP: What are the larger takeaways of this report for you? What is your outlook after seeing this year’s results?

FK: The larger takeaway is that none of this data should be surprising or new. The data in this year’s report further quantifies what BIPOC have been expressing for years. I’m hopeful that companies and leaders are taking a hard look at their teams and organizations and taking action for change. If something isn’t working, they need to understand why—and that can be a daunting task to take on. Ask for help when you need it—reach out to partners and organizations like ours who can help.

LP: Are there areas where you’re seeing progress? What do the numbers about discrimination and burnout tell you about how much more needs to be done?

FK: Overall, we’ve seen some improvements in perceived physical safety, which may be driven by the significant shift to remote work during the pandemic. Currently, 64% of BIPOC employees report working hybrid or remote, compared to just about half of White employees.

Building a culture of well-being and focusing on the whole person helps to promote a healthy working environment. As burnout rates continue to rise, the data show a disconnect that must be addressed.

LP: How do people access the report for themselves, and what do you hope is the first thing they do after they read it?

FK: The report can be viewed here. I hope that leaders will view these insights and reflect on where they see gaps and opportunities in their own organizations so they can take action to address the needs of their community. The best thing they can do is to not be afraid to take steps forward even if they’re not sure of how to go forward—and to ask for help from those who can guide them along the way.

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov / Pexels


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