Building Our Own Table: Dr. Jonathan

Meet the founder of Element of Inclusion

Hello friends, I’ve been following Dr. Jonathan Ashong-Lamptey on LinkedIn for quite a while now, and I’ve enjoyed what he’s shared. Then I had the distinct pleasure of a conversation with him in late 2022, and I knew at that point I wanted to provide another space for him to share his vision. Please meet Dr. Jonathan…

Dr. Jonathan, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding Element of Inclusion.

In 2009, I attended Barack Obama’s inauguration.

As a Black man I was honoured to be part of world history.

This stirred something in me that I really didn’t expect.

6 months later I quit my well paid job as an accountant.

This led to a sequence of events where I started a PhD at the London School of Economics.

None of this was planned but it set the stage for what I’m doing now.

Building Our Own Table: Dr Jonathan. Published on Sharon's Anti-Racism Newsletter. Photo of Dr Jonathan Ashong-Lamptey in a dark suit and light shirt set against a wooden background

Give me the elevator pitch for Element of Inclusion.

I’m on a mission to help a million people like you to make your workplace inclusive.

And in more detail?

Typically we work with organisations through research, training and consulting.

These tend to be service based organisations with over 1,000 employees. Some are FTSE 100 and Fortune 500. Some are not.

These include companies like Natwest Bank, Meta, Sony Pictures International, Conde Nast, John Lewis Partnerships and Lloyds Corporation.

But this is a long way to get to a million people.

I’m turning my attention to providing resources that can help people at scale.

This is why I host one of the longest running inclusion related podcasts in the world.

This is why I’ve been running our Book Club since 2020.

This is why I’m a prolific content creator on social media.

It’s all in service of my mission.

What inequity were you trying to address, and why is this important?

I encourage people to nurture an inclusive workplace.

When I say inclusion I mean a systematic business strategy to ensure that everyone shares the same advantages and benefits.

This means:

  • Everyone can perform.

  • Everyone can belong.

  • Everyone can reach their potential.

This is important because despite the AI and other technology, I believe that people are the most important part of any organisation and that everyone should be able to reach their potential within the workplace.

How’s it going? What has the response been?

Well I don’t think I’ve helped a million people…… yet.

I’m working on it.

I’ve learned that organisations experience remarkably predictable challenges as they try to become more Inclusive.

We refer to these challenges as the “3 Biggest Problems”:

  1. People: Organisations have trouble engaging the people that they want to include

  2. Potential: Organisations struggle to create a culture of Inclusion where everyone can reach their potential

  3. Performance: Organisations find it difficult to articulate a “business case for diversity” for their specific organisation.

We’ve created a free email course to introduce everyday leaders to these issues.

I recently reviewed 30 books in 30 days in my 60 Second Book Reviews.

My DM’s were full of people who wanted me to do more reviews and give practical tips that I can’t cover in 60 seconds.

In response I’m reviewing 30 books in 30 weeks. All broadly related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

For those who want more I provide unique insights every two weeks using a signature approach I developed during my PhD.

I receive incredibly powerful feedback every week from people saying that they apply the insights that I’m sharing.

I want to scale that to dramatic effect.

What’s next for Element of Inclusion? Any goals you're hoping to achieve?

The thing I’m really trying to encourage is better decision through Evidence Based Inclusion.

Think of this as a thorough decision making process that considers:

  • The Scientific literature

  • Data from your organisation

  • The stakeholders affected by the issues you want to address

  • Professional Expertise

This is at the heart of everything I do.

This is how I want to help a million people.

I’ve created a short course that brings this to life.

In the future this is something I want to offer.

In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?

I think of racism as a system of advantage based on race as opposed to the narratives of prejudice and discrimination that are common.

This reflects the influence of David Wellman’s book "Portraits of White Racism” on my thinking.

I tend to talk about the workplace because my mission is driven by my vision.

A place where:

  • Everyone can perform.

  • Everyone can belong.

  • Everyone can reach their potential.

In my vision there is no room for race to be employed in a supremacist hierarchy.

I’m constantly motivated by ideas similar to Star Trek where everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.

This naive vision is what motivates me to get up everyday.

That’s it folx. I hope you got as much out of this as I did. (And you know I loved the Star Trek reference, as that programme has also shaped my vision for the future.) You can connect with Dr. Jonathan on the Element of Inclusion website, on LinkedIn, or check out the Element of Inclusion podcast. You can also see previous SARN interviews here.

Thanks for reading,


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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. All Rights Reserved.

I am an anti-racism writer, educator and activist, Co-Founder of Mission Equality the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast.

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