Jess here, the founder of Love and London, sharing my plans for how we will better represent diversity in this business. I haven’t done this enough in the past.
The facts about diversity in London
London is the most diverse part of England and Wales, by a long shot. According to the 2011 census, 8 out of the 10 most ethnically diverse local authorities were in London.
London itself has a population that’s 13.3% Black, 18.5% Asian, 5% mixed. White people (British and other) make up 54% of London, and to give you perspective to how that compares to the rest of England, the area with the next lowest population of white people, the West Midlands, is made up of 83% white people.
In addition, London has by far the largest percentage of residents that are foreigners. 37% of Londoners are non-UK-born residents and 22% are non-British residents, according to this government study done in 2019.
When it comes to disability, it’s estimated that 1.2 million people in the capital are disabled, according to this government document from 2011.
The facts about diversity in travel and tourism
I wasn’t able to find exact numbers on the diversity of London tourists, but it’s estimated that the black community spends $50 billion a year on travel worldwide. Even knowing that, the majority of tourism boards and travel brands, including my own, often do not consider the black community when marketing and creating products and services. The same goes for other ethnic minorities and especially for travellers with disabilities.
Where we’re at, as a business with influence
As a white, able-bodied woman and the person who is in charge of everything that happens with Love and London, I haven’t done enough to 1 – consider non-white, non-able-bodied tourists when creating content and marketing and 2 – accurately represent how diverse London is with my hiring of freelance production team, writers, and on-camera talent.
I often talk to my community about how one of my favourite things about this city is how diverse it is, however I have failed to represent that diversity through my platform.
Since the end of 2019, I had been planning to use my influence and platform to better represent London, and to show a diverse range of on-camera talent, however I have not done enough to put this into action and will better implement this once travel picks up again and we have revenue to hire more people.
Next steps for me
This is the first version of my action plan for Love and London to do better. I absolutely know that it’s too vague and lacks measurement. I’ve intentionally left it like this because due to COVID we don’t currently have enough revenue or the physical ability to do much hiring, collaborating, etc. As international travel and revenue starts to pick up more in the next few months, I will add more detailed and concrete plans and measurements to ensure that I’m doing what is needed to make changes and better represent the diversity of London.
I will ensure:
1. Diversity in who I hire, both on-camera and off
2. Diversity in who I collaborate with on-camera
3. Diversity in topics covered. What do non-white tourists want to know, to see, to eat, to drink? How does disability affect travel?
4. Listening to diverse tourists and experts to understand their needs while traveling that white, able-bodied people have never had to think about or experience.
Some of these actions will be visible to you and some won’t, but you can reach out to me and ask about progress behind-the-scenes.
Working with brands
We occasionally work with brands to promote their products and services. The way this works is that a brand, if we believe it’s a good fit for our audience, pays us money to promote them to our audience.
The sad truth is that many corporate and start-up brands claiming to be behind Black Lives Matter do not walk the walk in their boardrooms, co-founder partnerships, workforce, and/or supplier treatment. The same goes for their “green initiatives”, feminist policies, and more.
This is something that I’ve been conscious of for a while, which is one of the reasons why we don’t work with brands very much.
Karolina, our Head of Content and Brand Partnerships, and I will be having a continuous discussion for how we will navigate how we work with brands in the future.
I know I won’t get this right all the time, and I’m ok with that, and I’m happy to be held accountable. At the end of the day, I have always wanted this platform to be something more than just a travel guide, and I will work hard to use it for good.