Susan's Musings

Just Thinking Out Loud

Reflecting on 7th July… In 2005 and 2013.

Today, the 7th July 2013 marks the 8th anniversary of the London bombing by four terrorists. It’s also the morning that we wake up to the news that Abu Qateda has finally been deported from the UK.  In addition to the news of suicide bombings in Uruzgan, Southern Afghanistan; Baghdad, Iraq; and  Lahore, Pakistan, there was a report of at least 29 pupils and a teacher being killed in a boarding school in North Eastern Nigeria.

Whilst I recognise that these acts of terrorism are perpetuated on the basis of these people’s definition of Islam, I really  and truly wish that we would stop calling them Islamists. I believe by doing so we almost begin to give their acts some justification or even credibility. As a Christian, I cannot speak on behalf of Muslims. However, on the basis of my understanding of Islam and interaction with Muslims over the years, I don’t believe that terrorism is a true representation of Islam. I therefore believe that by connecting terrorism to Islam and calling the terrorist, Islamist or Islamic extremist we inevitably end up avoiding the need to take the time to really and truly understand and define the root causes of these terrorist act.

More critically, however, I believe today is a time to pause and reflect on the victims of such acts.  I could try and search for the right words to express the sadness, the grief and loss as a result of such events.  However, there is someone who has a direct, personal experience that I believe expresses the situation much better. Her name is Marie Fatayi-Williams, the mother of Anthony Fatayi-Williams.

“This is Anthony, Anthony Fatayi -Williams, 26 years old, he’s missing and we fear that he was in the bus explosion … on Thursday. We don’t know. We do know from the witnesses that he left the Northern line in Euston. We know he made a call to his office at Amec at 9.41 from the NW1 area to say he could not make [it] by the tube but he would find alternative means to work.

Since then he has not made any contact with any single person. Now New York, now Madrid, now London. There has been widespread slaughter of innocent people. There have been streams of tears, innocent tears. There have been rivers of blood, innocent blood. Death in the morning, people going to find their livelihood, death in the noontime on the highways and streets.

They are not warriors. Which cause has been served? Certainly not the cause of God, not the cause of Allah because God Almighty only gives life and is full of mercy. Anyone who has been misled, or is being misled to believe that by killing innocent people he or she is serving God should think again because it’s not true. Terrorism is not the way, terrorism is not the way. It doesn’t beget peace. We can’t deliver peace by terrorism, never can we deliver peace by killing people. Throughout history, those people who have changed the world have done so without violence, they have [won] people to their cause through peaceful protest. Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, their discipline, their self-sacrifice, their conviction made people turn towards them, to follow them. What inspiration can senseless slaughter provide? Death and destruction of young people in their prime as well as old and helpless can never be the foundations for building society.

My son Anthony is my first son, my only son, the head of my family. In African society, we hold on to sons. He has dreams and hopes and I, his mother, must fight to protect them. This is now the fifth day, five days on, and we are waiting to know what happened to him and I, his mother, I need to know what happened to Anthony. His young sisters need to know what happened, his uncles and aunties need to know what happened to Anthony, his father needs to know what happened to Anthony. Millions of my friends back home in Nigeria need to know what happened to Anthony. His friends surrounding me here, who have put this together, need to know what has happened to Anthony. I need to know, I want to protect him. I’m his mother, I will fight till I die to protect him. To protect his values and to protect his memory.

Innocent blood will always cry to God Almighty for reparation. How much blood must be spilled? How many tears shall we cry? How many mothers’ hearts must be maimed? My heart is maimed. I pray I will see my son, Anthony. Why? I need to know, Anthony needs to know, Anthony needs to know, so do many others unaccounted for innocent victims, they need to know.

It’s time to stop and think. We cannot live in fear because we are surrounded by hatred. Look around us today. Anthony is a Nigerian, born in London, worked in London, he is a world citizen. Here today we have Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, all of us united in love for Anthony. Hatred begets only hatred. It is time to stop this vicious cycle of killing. We must all stand together, for our common humanity. I need to know what happened to my Anthony. He’s the love of my life. My first son, my first son, 26. He tells me one day, “Mummy, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die. I want to live, I want to take care of you, I will do great things for you, I will look after you, you will see what I will achieve for you. I will make you happy.’ And he was making me happy. I am proud of him, I am still very proud of him but I need to now where he is, I need to know what happened to him. I grieve, I am sad, I am distraught, I am destroyed.

He didn’t do anything to anybody, he loved everybody so much. If what I hear is true, even when he came out of the underground he was directing people to take buses, to be sure that they were OK. Then he called his office at the same time to tell them he was running late. He was a multi-purpose person, trying to save people, trying to call his office, trying to meet his appointments. What did he then do to deserve this. Where is he, someone tell me, where is he?”

#Selah

 

Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation and Engaged For Success a Social Enterprise. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain. She is also Winner Women4Africa Author of the Year 2013

 

Copyright 2013. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

 

 

 

 

The Rotherham Foster Case

I followed the media frenzy regarding the Rotherham Council fostering case yesterday.  I refer to it as the Rotherham Fostering case as opposed to the UKIP case as it wasn’t really about UKIP or at least it shouldn’t have been.

I’m not an expert in this area but I know that the Council should have a process for assessing the suitability of foster parents.  I would venture to add that aside from the fact that foster carers are unlikely to want to look after children who come from a background that they have strong prejudices against, assessments should be designed to pick up such prejudices. (People don’t have to belong to a political party to hold racist opinions)

So against this backdrop I find myself pondering the appropriateness of Rotherham Council’s actions in this case.

  • I’m not a UKIP Supporter but I’m mindful of the fact that UKIP is a legal political party.  I haven’t done a full analysis of their policy, but I understand that they believe that there is a need for controlled immigration due to pressure that immigration places on our services.  It might sound like mere symantics, but I would say that rather than controlled immigration we need better managed immigration – there is already a degree of control anyway.  Besides which whilst immigration may come with its problems, it also brings benefits and over the years it has also provided us with solutions as well.
  • But back to the point of the Rotherham foster carers, let’s say for a minute that UKIP is a terrible racist political party with some unacceptable policies even though it is a legal party; I know from research that there is a reality that people join political parties for different reasons.  They don’t necessarily agree with all of their policies. It’s just as we at times vote for candidates even though we might not agree with everything they say. Similarly from an HR perspective when selecting candidates there may be one or two things we dislike about a candidate, but we tend to focus on what a candidate will bring overall and consider how we can mitigate any issues that may arise from the things we dislike or are concerned about.
  • I therefore believe that in the Rotherham Foster case, the parents that the children were (at least on the face of things) comfortably living with should have been interviewed or re-accessed to determine whether they held views or beliefs that would have a negative impact on the children.  This should have been backed with interviews of the children.

Sadly it seems that a rushed decision was made without any thought for how the move would affect the children. Young people who had possibly already gone through the trauma of a move from one country to another; problems in relation to their parents; and who knows – possibly a number of moves leading up to their more recent placement.

#Selah

Copyright 2012. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

The Enduring Issue of Racism

I was up late on Friday night – I couldn’t sleep. I therefore logged on to twitter  -just to see what was going on.  I noticed that Stan Collymore was trending together with someone named Tom Adeyemi (who I hadn’t previously heard of).  Bored and with “nothing better to do” I clicked on each name to find out why they were trending.

First I clicked on Stan Collymore’s name.  I discovered that with no apparent reason, someone had decided to rein racial abuse on him via twitter. Stan had got fed up with it and reported it to the police. As a result, the man in question had deleted his twitter account. Stan had, however, had the foresight to take photos of the abusive messages, which he posted on twitter. After a visit from the police, he also posted part of his police statement – I guess to make it clear that he would not tolerate such behaviour.

Reading the commentary on this case, a number of people expressed shock at the language and behaviour of the perpetuator who was described as a 21-year-old law student. Others commended Stan for dealing decisively with this case. I was, however, somewhat befuddled to find that there were a number expressing the view that Stan should not have dealt with the situation in public and posted the comments and/or he should have said nothing in public until the matter was resolved.  I was befuddled because I wondered what made people think that how he dealt with the matter even required commentary. Was it not more pertinent that such abuse had taken place than how he decided to report the situation?  Furthermore, I believe it’s important that we are made aware of what is really going on.

Before I talk about the case of Tom Adeyemi, I’ll explain why.

Back in November 2011, a woman was recorded swearing abusively on a tram in Croydon.  Punctuating every other sentence with the F word, she was addressing the passengers that she saw as foreigners and not English, telling them to go back to their own countries.  I don’t know what set her off, but she was later arrested.

Shortly afterwards I posted a thought on twitter, pondering “I’ve been reflecting on the racist ranting of the woman on the Croydon tram – I wonder what % of the British population share her views”

Someone responded saying “Very few I think (and hope)”

I was a bit surprised by what I will describe as his innocence and went on to say “I suspect there are many that share the concerns of the Croydon tram woman. Difference is it’s not publically expressed”

Separate from this, the recent trials and convictions in the Stephen Lawrence case have brought the issue of race to the forefront. The challenge of this is that it’s possible for people to conclude that this was a negative era in our past for which justice has now been done allowing us to close the chapter and move on.

The truth, however, is that although fortunately we have most definitely come along way, we still have a long way to go.  This is not only illustrated by the Stan Collymore case and the Croydon tram incident, but also the case of Tom Adeyemi.

So back to my Twitter explorations… I clicked on Tom Adeyemi’s name and discovered that he is young football player who it seems was racially abused during a football matched. As illustrated by the photographs taken of him immediately after the incident, he appears to be so distressed by the incident that he is virtually in tears. I don’t know what exactly it is that was said to him, but it seems that as result of the incident the game was actually paused for a few minutes.  As you’ll probably be aware there have also been other cases in football as of later, with some interesting responses from some people in positions of authority who have at times belittled the situations or who have without question tried to protect the player against whom allegations have been made.

There is no question, we have come along way, but I believe we need to be honest and recognise that we still have a long way to go.  I’m particular concerned that the alleged abusers of both Stan Collymore and Tom Adeyemi are both very young i.e. 21 and 20 respectively.  I mention age, because at that age they are more than likely to have grown up and schooled with people of colour.  The 21 year old is said to be a law student. It’s early days yet and this is yet to be the confirmed, but assuming he is a law student how well is our education system working in enabling young people to have a more positive view about race or are other influences just too strong? Before you say anything, I’ll reiterate – yes, I know its early days and I recognise that some may say that these are isolated incidents.  I will, however, respond and say that I don’t believe I would have to look too far to find similar incidents (unreported and/or with less public figures) across the country.

The tram case still weighs heavily on my mind as whilst regardless of what set her off, there was no excuse for that ladies language or behaviour, there are concerns that she expressed in relation to foreigners, jobs and immigration that are shared by a number of people in this country.

#Selah

Copyright 2012. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

Who Represents Britain?

Many moons ago, in the year 1983 during the era of apartheid South Africa, a young South African girl moved to England, claiming British citizenship so that she could run internationally as South Africa was excluded from international events due to it’s apartheid policy.  When she ran at Crystal Palace the following year it was controversial, but she had ever right to do so as the fact that her grandfather was British gave her the right to British citizenship.

Over the years that have followed there have been numerous different athletes originating from or born in different countries who have represented Britain in International athletics. It’s therefore quite bemusing for people to speak of ‘plastic Brits’.

I must say I am, however, somewhat fascinated by Tiffany Ofili-Porter who says “I could have run for America, I could have run for Nigeria but I choose to run for Britain because I appreciate the support they show for athletics”

The truth is that the diversity of her background and options is very representative of modern day Britain.

Ref: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/8680043/London-2012-Olympics-US-born-Tiffany-Ofili-Porter-seeks-to-dispel-myths-after-switching-allegiance-to-GB.html

Copyright 2011. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

Developing a Skilled Workforce for the Upturn

As we are now unfortunately in a recession, the current focus for most businesses is unlikely to be on recruiting staff, but now more than ever there is a need for organisations of whatever size to ensure that they are are as efficient and effective as possible.

A critical key to this is having staff with the right skills, in the right roles within your organisation. You may have noticed politicians talking about upskilling staff affected by redunancies to find the new jobs. This leads me to two inter-related questions. 1. Do prospective employees know what skills they require in order to work within your organisation? and 2)Beyond the knowledge that you need skilled staff do you know what specific skills you require, such that anyone could readily be able to identify individuals that would be suited to work within your organisation?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, then I believe you as an employer are missing something, asemployers are known to complain that young people coming into the workplace do not have the required skills. Now is the time for you to stand up and clearly articulate your requirements so that individuals going out for retraining and the people supporting them can make sure that they will be able to fulfil your business needs.

This is also important for your current workforce as through schemes such as Train to Gain there is currently a considerable amount of financial support is available to help you to develop your Staff.

I would recommend that you seize the opportunity and take a few steps as follows:

1. Review your business objectives/ plan for the next few years

2. Identify the skills and competencies you are going to need to meet your business objectives. If necessary get help in doing.

3. Develop this into a framework of roles which identifies not just the skills and qualifications, but also the wider abilities and attitudes that enable effectiveness such as communicatin skills and confidence to undertake different activities.

4. Assess the abilities of your current staff against both your immediate and future requirements in order to identify where you can develop current staff to fulfil roles and where you are likely to have gaps going forward that need to be filled external.

5. Make sure that the processes that you use to identify staff for development and promotion are open and fair taking into account the views and interests of your staff. This is important in order to prevent any legal claims of unfairness, but it’s of equal importance to ensure your staff remain engaged and positive about working with your organisation.

6. Begin to think about how you are going to fill the gaps (when the need arises) by recruiting employees, contractors or possibly outsourcing.

If you miss this opportunity and don’t begin to prepare now, when we come out of this recession in a year or two or whenever it may be, you may be caught of guard in a reenergised battle for skilled employees.

Susan Popoola

Conning Towers
HR Transformation & Talent Management
Leveraging the Power of People
Copyright 2008 This document is the specific intellectual property of the Conning Towers Consultancy. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated from content obtained from other sources and such content is referenced as appropriate.

BNP on Question Time

It’s now close to a month since the BNP’s leader, Nick Griffin appeared on Question Time and I think it would be fair to say that the jury is still out on whether it did more harm than good.  In fact in all honesty, I doubt if there will ever be a consensus.

For me more than anything else it highlighted our limited ability to address the root causes of issues and as such although the intentions may have been noble, I believe it was a wasted opportunity.  At the beginning of the programme I was pleased to see that politicians were actually uniting and agreeing on points being raised.  However, I shortly after I made this observation while watching I became aware that it seemed that the other panelists  were more united in showing Griffin up than anything else. It seemed that due to the controversy proceeding the programme they needed to justify the presence on the panel the Question Time panel that night by showing him up.  Furthermore, by the time the conversation moved on the subject of immigration, the sense of unity that I had previously observed dissolved.

This is not, however, the key reason why I believe that the programme was a wasted opportunity.  More pertinently, I believe the programme location and therefore studio audience was flawed as West London is not an area with much BNP support as reflected by the questions/comments from members of the audience.

Rather than the attempt to show Griffin up, I would have preferred an opportunity to gain a greater insight into why there are a significant number of people in the UK that support the BNP, so that their concerns can be addressed.  As it stands, even though Griffin may have been shown up, there were subliminal messages behind some of the things that he said that the less liberal minded amongst others would have agreed with.

For instance people may have sniggered at Griffin’s comment about public kissing in response to the question about homosexuality.  However when he went further to speak about the teaching of Sex Education in Primary schools , without defining terms, he was touching on a concern that (like it or not,) a number of parents hold. However, the only response to this that I heard was from a politician tweeting who exclaimed   “Why is he bringing primary school kids into this?”

As such while there will be many that disagree with some of the fundamentals that he stands for, they will at the same time believe that he (and his party) are the only ones that understand and address the issues that concern them.  Yes Alan Johnson is now talking about the need for a debate on immigration.  I would, however, venture to say that at this stage (after over 12 years of labour in office) we shouldn’t be debating but acting.  The sad thing is whether or not you agree with their policies, Labour have started to do something.  There is a question as to whether people are aware of  what they are doing.  For instance, how many people are aware that Britain now has a points system for immigration, fashioned after the Australian system? For those that have heard mention of it, how many kow how it works together with the impact that is likely to have over time?

The lack of explanation/response may explain why when I recently came across a list of BNP members and allowed my curiosity to get the better of me; I reviewed the list and came across the name of someone that I believe I know. Assuming the person on the list is the person I think it is, I very much doubt if she joined the BNP because she hates people of colour and sees no place for them in this country.  This is a person I have conversed with at length, had lunch with, who has discussed the possibilities of working jointly on projects.  You may say think I’m naive and that there is no explanation for her BNP membership  other than hatred or race.  I, however, do not believe it’s that simply and hope to unveil at least some of the real issues in my next book, “Consequences”

Copyright 2009 This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

About The Author

Susan Popoola

Susan is a Human Resources Capital Optimisation Specialist specialising in areas inclusive of Talent Management with additional interest in a number of other areas inclusive of Education, Community and Social Justice.

Welcome To Our Site...

Susan on Twitter

Get Adobe Flash player