Kamela Forbes, has always been passionate about diversity and inclusion. Kamela is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) for both HireTalent and Consciously Unbiased, which is another company created under HireTalent, that focuses solely on helping companies create cultures of belonging.
Kamela talks about her role in the organization, “We’re disrupting traditional D&I training methods to connect the heart and mind to drive real change.”
She joined HireTalent more than two years ago. The firm’s internal team is a very unique make-up across race, gender, age, sexual orientation, cultural, religious and socio-economic status and among the group, they speak a total of 13 languages. It advocates for its clients to hire diverse talent.
Kamela reveals that her experiences as a professional model of 20 years, keeps her connected to the issues. She knows first-hand what it’s like to be on the outside looking in.
“As a model I’ve had many experiences where I wished I felt like I ‘belonged’. From just wishing I wasn’t always the ‘token black’ and that there would be more than 1 black model on the shoot or in the show with me that I would probably have something immediately in common with,” says Kamela.
We wanted to learn more about her role in both companies. Here’s what she had to say.
Story-Book Entertainment (SBe): Why is it important to do the work you do?
Kamela Forbes (KF): The need for the work we’re doing is so critical right now as the current environment we live in today is so polarized, the left and the right talk past each other. Our goal is to open people’s minds and hearts and find commonality in each other and build a sense of belonging by doing this.
SBe: How would you define “Consciously Unbiased”?
KF: Consciously Unbiased is both a grassroots movement and a brand. We sell branded merchandise and donate 100% of the profits to charities promoting diversity and inclusion.
In just 1 year, we have:
- Built a social community of more than 120,000 followers showing the organic impact we are making within communities & organizations worldwide
- Donated more than $50,000 to diversity and inclusion initiatives through our grassroots campaign.
SBe: What do you find most fulfilling about your job?
KF: When I see the look on peoples’ faces that tells me that they are so grateful that there is a movement that supports and is advocating for them to be themselves and be accepted. They see their company getting on board with that mission and actually doing something to drive real change instead of just talking about it. That’s what I find most fulfilling, the testimonials we hear daily from people joining the movement and knowing we are helping to make a change in the world, one person at a time!
SBe: As someone who has been active as a model and is used to networking, how does today differ from say, 5-10 years ago when it comes to the amount of black and brown models we see on the runway, on magazine covers?
KF: We have definitely seen a surge of models of color in shows and in print over the last few years. I think with the rise of social media and all the attention on diversity and inclusion, clients are feeling the pressure and are responding accordingly. Not only are we seeing improved representation from a race perspective, but also in size and age and sexual identity and that’s a wonderful thing!
SBe: What have been some of your most rewarding experiences?
KF: Although there have been many challenges along the way, I have had the pleasure of shooting campaigns for some iconic brands like Tiffany & Co and L’Oréal, I’ve been featured in magazines like Ebony, Essence, Cosmopolitan and O magazine, I’ve walked the runway for famed designers such as Chado Ralph Rucci and Badgley Mischka, been the muse of fashion houses of J. Mendel and Kaufman Franco.
My work has afforded me the opportunity to travel to interesting and exotic locations for shows and shoots and all the while meeting some amazing and inspiring models who are doing their part to change the world as well and who are some of my dearest friends to date.
Kamela talks about her hopes and dreams for Consciously Unbiased ..
We know how important the work we’re doing is and we know for it to continue to be effective we need to scale, and have it reach a wider audience. By curating interesting and relevant content we are increasing our social media presence across all platforms.
We are also working on technological advances to help us with continuing education post in-person workshops. To see changes in behavior we have to continue to massage the muscles and create habits, it cannot be a one and done experience if we expect to see real change.
Images provided by Kamela Forbes.
Follow Consciously Unbiased on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/consciouslyunbiased_/
Check out HireTalent on the web: https://www.hiretalent.com