Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Kess Eruteya, the founder and CEO of InclusionZ. Let’s learn what’s happening at InclusionZ and how Kess is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hi Kess, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is InclusionZ addressing?
Kess: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! InclusionZ is on a mission to “make the world a more inclusive place for Generation Z.” PEW Research has highlighted that ”Generation Z is the most diverse generation yet,” since an estimated 40% identify with ethnic minority backgrounds. Yet, many corporations struggle to connect with diverse and youthful audiences. I created InclusionZ as a solution that pushes companies to value diversity and inclusion as a critical factor. It really promotes social impact and business transformation.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Kess: I created InclusionZ as a result of social inequality. At age 18, I joined the corporate technology industry, working on multi-million client projects. I soon identified a chief disconnect between Generation Z and large corporations. Firstly, companies struggled to hire and retain diverse junior talent. In the workplace, I would witness talented young professionals from underserved backgrounds (ethnic minorities, low-income, LGBT+, disabled) suffer in toxic company cultures that do not value diversity, equity, and inclusion. Secondly, I established this because I knew underserved communities face barriers to accessing relevant career guidance compared to their privileged counterparts.
Spiffy: That’s very inclusive of you. How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Kess: InclusionZ is working towards a more equitable world by providing solutions that help leading Fortune 500 companies foster equality, inclusion, and diversity within their businesses. A massive part of InclusionZ’s work focuses on ensuring that marginalized employees and consumers are valued. We are also creating a more equitable world of work for diverse members of the Generation Z demographic. We are committed to generating economic literacy for all, regardless of class, disability, ethnicity, and other political identities that prevent inclusion in the workforce. Lastly, InclusionZ is creating a social impact for diverse young professionals by providing mentorship, career opportunities, and workshops for junior talent.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make?
Kess: Most recently, I had the opportunity to take a group of recent graduates and university students from diverse backgrounds (working-class and ethnic minorities) to 10 Downing Street for International Youth Day. On that day, the youth met government officials and participated in an economic literacy event. I am highly passionate about “leveling the playing field” for diverse youth. So, this kind of opportunity was extremely rewarding for me.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Kess: I founded InclusionZ during the COVID-19 lockdown within Britain. As a result, the early days of building community were challenging since the lockdown restricted in-person interaction. At the beginning of starting the business, I encountered several failures when cultivating a virtual community. However, I overcame it by shifting my mindset and playing to my strengths. I stopped seeing the lockdown as a barrier. Soon after, I started running creative experiences that valued my community. As a result, I created a loyal community of thousands of individuals in over nineteen countries.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Kess—it’s been an honor!
Kess Eruteya is the founder and CEO of InclusionZ, a leading firm that assists some of the world’s most influential organizations in leveraging diverse and junior audiences as a competitive advantage. She is also a keynote speaker specializing in Generation Z, innovation, diversity and inclusion, and corporate social responsibility. (Nominated by Ladderworks. First published on the Ladderworks website on October 5th, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jason “Jackson” Block. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.