top of page
Search
  • Louis Hughes

Copywriter’s corner: A conversation with the CEO Milimo Banji

We are talking to the leader of TapIn about the future of the company, his thoughts around the importance of awareness months like Black History Month and much more.



Mils founded TapIn in 2019 with the mission statement of helping 100 million young people get into the world of work.


Since then, he has built a team of 18, lead launch incredible projects like This is Black Gen Z and has set his eyes on expanding TapIn to the US within the next year.


To celebrate Black History Month, we decided to pick his brain about all things TapIn, as well how companies can do better with diversity and inclusion year round.


So let’s start the conversation!




Q: Let’s set the scene: What was your journey to finding TapIn?


It was really interesting actually, I had a few internships during my second and third year of university - I think I had about five internships. And when I finished those internships, people were asking me questions, like;

“How did you get into JP Morgan?”

“How did you get into Google?”

“How did you get into McKinsey?”


Coming from an aerospace engineering background, it wasn’t really commonplace because most engineers wanted to get into engineering. So I would have these small sessions where I would essentially run people through interviews, how to ace them and what to expect, how to prep for psychometric testing, how to impress interviewers and how to pass assessment centres.


Eventually I realised that I’m only speaking to 15 people here. I should actually go out and speak to different people in different industries and share these short videos online.


So I started posting on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, and then very slowly began to help young people get into the world of work. And that’s how this passion brewed inside me for helping people.


And then I’d get these really cool messages from people essentially saying, ‘hey I got into this company or that company because of the video that I watched!’ And from there I knew that this was something I wanted to do.



Q: When you started out, what did you think TapIn would look like at this point?


When I first started, I thought TapIn would be a social enterprise. I thought that it would be a charity or social enterprise that helped people get into the world of work and that we would do that through producing videos and getting sponsorship from companies at some point.


But to be honest, for the first year I had no idea at all what I was doing with TapIn.


Q: Was it always your intention to focus on diversity, or did it develop naturally?


I’d always had a passion for diversity, having had my own personal lived experiences.


I remember one time, I was interning at this company. They were an Insurance company and traditionally insurance doesn’t tend to be the most diverse. I remember walking around the office, wearing my suit, and everyone just kind of turned around and looked at me. I was a bit taken aback by that. I was a bit shocked and I just remember thinking;

Why are people looking at me?

Is there something wrong with me?

Do I have a stain in my shirt or anything?


But, I checked and I didn’t.


And I realised that actually that people of colour, or black people, or people that don’t look like the homogenous group in insurance - which tends to be white - are made to feel very uncomfortable. I felt very uncomfortable walking around that office and although I was given the offer, I actually rejected it because I thought ‘I don’t want to work in a place like this for the rest of my life.’


So as we continued to grow the business, I always had this inclination for, number one, building a diverse team internally. I wanted to avoid people coming into our business and feeling uncomfortable or feeling like they are the minority group. So that first began with building a diverse team, which we have and we are building, and we are constantly thinking about as we grow.


That then fed through to our work and to our clients. We began to advise clients on how to build diverse teams, and how to attract diverse talent. And that is what led to the research report we did this year on Black Talent (the This is Black GenZ Report) which is now the largest report into black talent in the UK.


And hat now feeds into everything we do, and we are now taking this report into the US next year.



Q: What are you most proud of when it comes to TapIn?


People are the foundations of any organisation.


Whether you are one person, or five, or 100,000 - people are at the centre of the success of an organisation.


So I am really proud of the team that we have built, and the team that we are building, because it is filled with the smartest, most patient and most humble people that hold the highest level of integrity and work incredibly hard. And that is very difficult to build. A lot of companies are seeking to do that and I am so happy about all the systems and processes, and the new things that we have introduced within the team to ensure that we have this culture. Things like the four day work week, as well as Gather [a virtual office space] which is a platform that we use to engage and connect with each other. And we are going to be introducing more things, which we will announce.


As a team, we gain inspiration from so many different things, and we bring those into the business as an opportunity to build the best culture, and to build a team of people who will genuinely change the world.


So the one thing I’m really proud of is the team that we have built.






Q: Is there an area of Black History or Culture that you are particularly passionate about?


When it comes to black history, I am really passionate, and I learn a lot from looking at black leaders.


I am a firm believer that no one is perfect, first and foremost. We shouldn’t have idols, we shouldn’t have people that we look up to because all humans have fallen short in one way or another.


But there are leaders who I look up to, who are black and who look like me, that I take inspiration from. I watch them, study them and pick out their best traits and then I try to really implement that in my leadership style. So leaders like Barack Obama - watching him, I’ve read his book, I watched several interviews with him and I take a lot of inspiration from him. So I think that black leadership is something that we should be celebrating.


And I think Black History Month in general is something that should be celebrated across all cultures, and across different countries as well. But I don’t think that black history should only be celebrated during one month in October in the UK, or in February in the US. It should be something that we talk about and engage with throughout the year.


I know to this day people are still being oppressed. There are roots of racism, roots of colonialism, and roots of systemic oppression that black people have been under for thousands and thousands of years - and we still see that today.I believe that Black History is an important inflection point to really celebrate the culture, the people, the diversity, and celebrate all of what it means to be black.


But I don’t think it should be something that we celebrate only once a year, for one month, and then forget about it. It should be something that we are constantly doing throughout the year.


And that goes to us as a business, but it also goes to all other businesses and people across the world.



Q: Where do you think companies go wrong when it comes to acknowledging awareness months like this?


I think companies go wrong when it comes to acknowledging days like this and months like this because they see it as a singular month to do that.


Companies will prepare for months for Black History Month. They’ll plan events, invite a range of black speakers (often without paying them) and go all out for one month. But these events, these gatherings and opportunities to celebrate black culture should be happening throughout the year. There should be more opportunities for black people to showcase who they are in everything - in arts, in music, in science, in education, in employment, recruitment - in all the industries that are essentially at the helm of capitalism.


Black people, throughout the year, should be celebrated.


Companies make the mistake of only doing it during black history month.





I think people should also respect the fact that black people are unique, like we all are unique. I think it is important that when a black person, or an individual that is diverse, starts in a business, a considered effort is made to understand them and learn about them. You see so many microaggressions in companies these days. And because of this, there are so many cases where black people come in, and within five or six months, they leave.

It’s because they don’t feel comfortable.

So I think companies should really be thinking about how they ensure that they have an environment that is conducive for development, that is conducive for black people to come in and thrive and be the best version of themselves.


You always hear the statement of diversity, inclusion and belonging.

So, diversity is being invited to a dance, inclusion is turning up and belonging is how you feel once you’re there.

You’ve been invited to the dance, you are there, but are you given the environment and the flexibility to actually dance? Do you feel comfortable enough to creatively express yourself in an organisation without microaggressions, without any discriminations, without any oppressions, and without feeling uncomfortable?

And that goes far and wide.


There are so many things that companies do today that are uncomfortable for black people. There are a lot of studies that show that people will come to work, and they will put on a facade and do a lot of code-switching. They will essentially take a version of themselves to work that isn’t fully themselves. And the environment at the company is what causes this.

So for example, say that the company socials are always based on drinking. And maybe as a black person, you don’t drink or you don’t go to the pub. I know that in caucasion or white culture, it is commonplace for people to go to the pub after work and have a drink. But if that’s not how you were brought up, how do you then adapt to that? And a lot of times black people are forced to adapt to that, and it makes them feel even more uncomfortable.


So what can companies do to create inclusive events?


It’s really interesting because at these more casual events like ‘after-work drinks,’ that’s where the key relationships are built. That is where you connect with your managers, your MDs, and your CEO and your senior management. And so if you are excluded from doing that, by virtue of the fact that it is not your culture or your way of living and working, it really excludes people.


So when it comes time for promotions, black people are often missed because they haven’t had a chance to build those relationships. So companies need to ensure that their environments are inclusive enough and their events are inclusive enough that black talent is actually supported.





To learn more about the TapIn team, check in here every week to see who’s in the Copywriter’s Corner!


11 views0 comments
bottom of page