31st January 2023
By Michael Brooks
And it still amazes me that we are celebrating 10 years of Brooks Quayle this month.
The catalyst behind launching Brooks Quayle 10 years ago, was hearing feedback from clients, some who have become firm friends. Feedback on how companies want to work with organizations who stand for something. They want to invest in executive search and recruitment businesses who share common beliefs and values, and who are striving to move the needle on DEI. As a result, knowing that they are finding the right talent to drive their growth, sustainably.
This really resonated with me. Particularly with regards to diversity and inclusion. As a member of the LGBTQI+ community, I had seen too many times, the undercurrent of unconscious bias, resulting in ‘safe’ hires to retain the status quo. Working in these large corporates, I often didn’t have a clue what their beliefs and goals were, beyond profit. Feedback from my clients and friends highlighted to me that this was something I simply wasn’t conformable with.
Despite personal success in large corporates, I would not be able to address these issues, unless I stuck my head above the parapet and led an executive search and recruitment agency, driven by their vision, mission and values.
And that’s exactly who Brooks Quayle is. We are an executive search and talent partner who aims to make vital, diverse and inclusive connections that add value and power progress.
It is only when you take a minute to reflect that you realise how much has changed over the last 10 years. Particularly some of the global milestones that have changed the way the world looks at diversity and inclusion, as well as mental health.
Whilst there has been many to reflect upon, here are some that stand out to me.
As the first-ever Black-American President, Barack Obama is re-elected for his 2nd term. What a significant historical moment when Mr Obama was elected. Regardless of your politics, I am proud to have witnessed this significant moment of hope and change.
In 2012, we celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The reaction to her passing this year spoke volumes about the global regard for Queen Elizabeth, and the role she has played as a strong woman in a leadership. A truly modern women, the Queen’s legacy was one of female empowerment that stretched far beyond the original girl boss.
Now we have a stream of incredible female role models and leaders, like Michelle Obama, Jacinda Ardern and Sanna Marin, who lead in a way that they want to, not what they think “the people” want.
The Black Lives Matter movement took centre stage, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the tragic shooting and death of Trayvon Martin, in 2012. Whilst the Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013 by three female organizers — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the struggle behind the movement has been a part of the black community’s lives for much longer.
Nelson Mandela died. A man of inspiration to many in Africa and the world. A true leader, a statesman and the defining symbol of reconciliation. To rise from decades of oppression and significantly improve the human rights movement globally, without malice, must be the definition of a truly great leader, which he personified.
In the UK, legislation to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales was passed by Parliament in July 2013 and took effect on 13 March 2014. Just minutes after midnight, when the new same sex marriage laws came into force, many happy coupled took their vows. John Coffey and Bernardo Marti in Westminster, Andrew Wale and Neil Allard in Brighton, Peter McGraith and David Cabreza in Islington were among those making history with their midnight nuptials.
Robin Williams died. This might seem like an unusual mention. But I grew up when Robin Williams was a regular feature on the big screen. He was so much more than the resident funny man of Hollywood. In fact, he had ongoing struggles with mental health. What you might not have known about Robin Williams is that for every film contract, he insisted that the studio hire homeless people and put them to work. Using his influence incredibly positively to make such a difference in those people’s lives. In addition, because of his mental health struggles, he opened a lot of people’s eyes to mental health issues, which was certainly not something spoken about at that time. His actions, alongside many others, has contributed to making it a lot less of a stigma for people to speak of mental health challenges today.
Personally, this is a big one. As a US resident for many years, I held my breath as the Supreme Court made a historic decision. They ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, condemning all state bans. The Supreme Court legalised same sex marriages in all fifty states and required states to honour out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses. A significant moment that signalled a real change in how the gay community was viewed (and treated) in the US.
It’s difficult to forget two of the biggest moments of 2016, that took A LOT of us by surprise, namely Trump being elected as US President and Britain voting to leave the European Union. Two historic moments that divided the respective countries (and some friends and family) overnight.
Despite these two events, there were also celebrations. Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast in World Championship history. An incredible achievement for the history books, by someone who professes her favourite subject was indeed, history. It is her accomplishments, which are even more than her incredibly successful sporting achievements, for which we applaud Simone. Simone is an inspiration for prioritising mental health and using her global platform to advocate for wellbeing above all else. This when she shocked the sporting stage by pulling out of the Tokyo Olympics saying. “I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and my wellbeing.”
This supremely brave decision continues to help young people realise that it’s okay to take care of themselves, both mentally and physically as they are inextricably linked.
We were just about getting our bearings after 2016 when #MeToo rocked the world. Although #MeToo was originally coined in 2006 by Tarana Burke, who is a survivor of sexual assault, 2017 is when the world took notice. It started with actress Ashley Judd accusing then media mogul, Harvey Weinstein in a breaking story by The New York Times. And the gates were opened. Although an incredibly harrowing (and far too common) story, it was in 2017 and for years after, where woman stoop up and said, no more, and took action. It’s no co-incidence that also in 2017, Trumps’ Presidency started with the largest single day protest as 5 million people marched for women’s rights across 600 separate marches.
#MeToo Movement truly goes global as millions came forward to share their stories. In Italy the movement became #QuellaVoltaChe (“that time when”), in Spain it is #YoTambien, in France it is #BalanceTonPorc (“squeal on your pig”), and in Arab-speaking countries it is #AnaKaman. According to analytics from Google, searches related to #MeToo and its variants remain high around the world, and the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Congolese physician Denis Mukwege and Yazidi assault survivor Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.
In the US, the most diverse Congress was sworn in, following on from 2018 and Chicago welcomed their first black female and first openly gay Mayor when Lori Lightfoot was elected. This is incomparable to a decade previously and truly shows the advancement in tolerance and acceptance as we move forward.
Whilst half of me wants to forget this year ever happened (what pandemic?), amidst the tragedy that so many suffered, there were some heart-warming tales of communities coming together. Nothing more exemplifies this, in my opinion, than the scientific community collaborating to produce the fastest vaccine in history. This was not about profit or greed, it was about saving people, regardless of age, gender, race or sexuality. And for that moment, the world looked on and saw how powerful we can be, together.
Female politicians were chosen to lead Estonia, Honduras, Samoa, Sweden, Tanzania and Tunisia for the first time. A clear sign of progress on female representation in world politics. The Oscars was the most diverse Oscars nominee list in history. More nations strengthened LGBTQ+ rights, with Switzerland, Canada, Montenegro and Botswana all making headway with legal rights and Germany, Brazil and the US all electing gay or trans candidates for the first time.
Throughout this time, Brooks Quayle has grown from strength to strength, continuing to lead by our mission of making vital, diverse and inclusive connections that add value and power progress.
Whilst our 10 years is not comparable to these significant and historic global milestones, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved together. If you’re interested in our journey, take a look at our story over the last decade.
The point of this reflection is to remind ourselves that we have come a long way in one decade. And these historic moments highlight how much has been achieved and what we still need to do, together.
As I reflect, my thoughts turn to the areas that we, as an executive search and talent partner, can help influence.
We can contribute to the gender pay gap, to the socio-economic pay gap and to diversity everywhere. Having strong relationships with such a diverse network means that we can tap into diverse candidates and deliver the people that power this progress and change, moving forward.
That is certainly my ambition and hopefully there will be more stories about changes for the good in our society in the years ahead.
Have a great end to 2022.
CEO and Founder – Brooks Quayle