Chidera Onyeukwu is one of the co-founders of A Touch Of Colour, a tech startup on a mission to improve the working lives of People of Colour. Chidera is also one of five entrepreneurs who successfully completed the 2021 Future Leaders Incubator Programme.
An ATOC Rating
A Touch Of Colour (ATOC) is a platform where people of colour can anonymously rate and review their companies based on diversity and inclusion. Companies will be given an ATOC rating based on reviews from their employees of colour.
For years I have had conversations with friends about what it’s like to be a person of colour at work. ATOC was borne out of frustration of my voice and the voices of other employees of colour not being heard when we spoke up about issues we experienced in the workplace.
I co-founded ATOC with Leonie Mills and Barbara Ojei Agwaziam to ensure that employees of colour know what to expect when joining an organisation. We are a company with a social purpose and our mission is to empower employees of colour to make informed decisions about their careers.
The issue with the existing diversity methodology
As a person of colour, it is almost impossible to assess diversity and inclusion at an organisation from the outside or from a landing page. What we find is that companies have been self-reporting their D&I performance and pat themselves on the back on how well they’re doing in terms of diversity and inclusion. However, these public commitments rarely reflect the reality of the lived experiences of employees of colour in the workplace.
The use of superficial metrics like “diversity quotas” with no real understanding or acknowledgement of the day-to-day lived experiences of their employees of colour is the major issue with the existing diversity methodology. Through ATOC, we want to fundamentally disrupt the way in which diversity data and methodology has been collected previously.
Centering the experiences of People of Colour
The impact of joining an organisation that is not inclusive is significant. It can affect your mental health and wellbeing, work performance, career progression and more. We also know that toxic workspaces rarely stay at work, they follow you home, and can ultimately impact your quality of life.
We are trying to minimise this impact through A Touch Of Colour by centring the experiences of people of colour in the workplace. People of colour should not have to rely on word of mouth to know what it’s really like to be a person of colour at an organisation. We want to create an accessible infrastructure that provides that information to people.
ATOC began as a website survey but has now evolved into a Slack application that allows employees of colour to report on their experiences in the workplace. We want to dynamically capture D&I changes within companies over time.
We are currently in beta-testing within closed diversity community groups but we plan to extend that to the public so that anyone can download the ATOC Slack application. Ultimately, we want to reach as many people as possible.
Being a Future Leader
My main goal for this programme was to improve my effectiveness as an entrepreneur. The incubator programme has given me access to mentorship, expertise and truly invaluable networks. The guidance and structure from my coach, Lucy Hart from Foundry4, really helped keep me focused on growing ATOC in the right direction.