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This week, in the latest of our life stories series, I’m interviewing Asad Dhunna, founder of The Unmistakables, on the PRmoment Podcast.
Asad started his career at IncrediBull (now Text 100), before moving to Weber Shandwick and via a stint in-house at FleishmanHillard Fishburn.
Asad set up the Unmistakables in Aug 2018. Alongside running his own agency until recently he was also director of communications at Pride in London.
Here is a summary of what Asad and I discussed:
[00:01:02] As a gay man of Indian origin did Asad set up The Unmistakables because he didn't feel comfortable working in large agencies mostly populated by white, middle-class people who often went to private school? Or he did he do it because there was an opportunity for brands to better communicate with minority groups in the UK?
[00:02:10] How during his time working in big agencies Asad felt he was working "living in different worlds" – when comparing his home life with his work life.
[00:02:39] How in his early career Asad's mum asked him: "Why are you working in PR? The industry doesn't pay very well, it seems to work you really hard. You're knackered all the time … Why don't you get a job in a bank as a teller?"
[00:04:19] Asad talks about the pressure of being a second-generation migrant in the UK.
[00:06:16] How as an Asian, Asad found himself working on client work that he did not identify with.
[00:07:45] Why Asad believes that power structures are an issue for minority groups, both at work and in society.
[00:09:12] Asad talks abut the different milestones he has as a gay man and how that impacts peer relationships at work.
[00:10:22] How Asad has changed his mindset from believing what made him different made it harder, to now believing what makes him different is what helps him.
[00:11:08] Asad talks about losing his dad when he was quite young and not processing that grief until quite recently.
[00:12:54] Asad and I compare the contrasting fortunes of UK and India over the last 50 years.
[00:13:32] Asad talks about various micro-aggressive occasions, where the majority group, through a lack of empathy, make the minority group feel uncomfortable.
[00:15:34] Why clients now want agencies to help them think about the big problems.
[00:18:29] Why Asad believes we're living in a period of tick-box diversity.
[00:21:37] Asad talks about some organisations that are getting their approach to diversity right.
[00:24:22] Why the marcomms sector is stuck in a time warp of what real society looks like.
[00:24:36] What can brands can do to make themselves more appealing as employers to minority groups?
[00:27:40] Asad names the top three most impactful developments to increase the number of BME and minority groups working in public relations.
[00:32:300] Asad talks about his time volunteering for Pride in London.
[00:34:07] Asad talks about how different it is client side.
[00:35:25] Asad talks about how The Unmistakables is deliberately an agency for misfits.