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Igniting Change: The Story Behind Vela

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

A note from the founder, Jerome Ntumba

In a world that is rapidly evolving, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have emerged as critical concepts shaping the landscape of businesses and communities. For many, the journey towards embracing DEI principles is driven by personal experiences and a desire to foster positive change. This is the story of Vela, a business born out of a passionate commitment to make a difference, starting from within and radiating outward.

The Awakening: A Glimpse into DEI

In 2019, my journey into the world of diversity, equity, and inclusion began. The term DEI (D&I at the time) seemed abstract and unfamiliar at first, and like many, I grappled with understanding its significance. A lot of it didn't make sense. Not the purpose itself but how it was delivered. Most of the initiatives I saw and was involved in seemed uninformed and disingenuous. "Surely we can do better than reading off of a powerpoint or sending out emails.", I thought. Unconscious Bias training became the trend but perceptions were still the same. We were changing our logos for pride in June and tuning in to speakers in October for Black History Month and that was it.

Prevailing perceptions and biases hindered progress, stifling the potential of individuals from different backgrounds.

The Birth of Vela: Illuminating the Path

Vela was conceived with a clear vision - to be a shining light that would illuminate the path towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive future. The name "Vela," meaning sail in Latin, symbolises our commitment to harnessing the winds of change to propel us towards a better tomorrow.

While my newfound knowledge was enlightening, I couldn't help but notice the absence of genuine diversity and inclusivity within my own workplace. Diversity is great but can end up being a protective front. It is empty without Inclusion - which is what I describe as the freedom of being diverse. I've quickly learnt that this is an ongoing journey. DEI should be something that is routinely observed and is not a perfect final form. Just like regulations in health & safety and finance, every company should adhere to the same simple standard. We need to move away from waiting for a movement or a hashtag to trend before we make real changes and start having proactive processes in place.

As time has gone on, there have many fantastic campaigns and initiatives that companies have produced. However, for many minorities who work in these companies, the picture tells a different story. Employees are going into new roles and are "seeing how the magic really works".

In the heart of my mission lies a simplicity that carries profound power: to create a benchmark that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the established financial and regulatory standards. At Vela, our purpose is to guide our clients towards a comprehensive understanding of actionable steps, enabling them to cultivate an environment where their workforce thrives harmoniously. A space where each employee finds joy in collaboration, freely expresses their ideas, and plays a pivotal role in fostering an enriched, inclusive atmosphere.

Vela is an impartial and unsponsored audit - to be undertaken independently. It's important that there is an assessment in place to hold organisations accountable, and validate the dedication to these principles, ensuring authenticity. Vela is not just a business or a movement. It's a professional revolution.

The journey from a curious learner to the founder of Vela has been transformative. The exposure to DEI principles in 2019 ignited a spark within me and the turning point of May 2020 drove me to embark on a mission to create lasting change. Vela is not only rewriting the narrative of diversity but also creating a blueprint for a more equitable future. It's not a tool designed to pass judgement, incite outrage or guilt-trip employers. Instead, it's designed to provide data on how you are doing in your DEI journey. As we set sail on this uncharted sea of change, I invite you to join us on this remarkable voyage towards a world where diversity is celebrated, equity is embedded and inclusion is the norm.



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