Ketan Dattani: The Road to an Inclusive, Diverse, and Equitable World

By Advice, Exclusive, Story

“Growing up in a city like London meant that from an early age I was exposed to many different beliefs and ethnicity. Growing up in a diverse community has allowed me to see people for who they are without focusing on what religion they practise or what country they come from or what colour their skin is, something I am incredibly grateful for.” ~ Ketan Dattani, CEO of Buckingham Futures

The Road Begins

In a world grappling with complex issues of race, diversity, equality, and inclusion, the story of Ketan Dattani stands as an inspiring testament to the power of resilience, empathy, and action. Born into a family that had been uprooted from their birthplace in Uganda due to political turmoil, Ketan’s journey from adversity to success is a story of determination, self-discovery, and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world.

A Challenging Start

Ketan Dattani’s life began in Leicester, UK, in the early 1970s, as his parents fled Uganda under the regime of Idi Amin. Forced to leave their belongings behind, they arrived in the UK with little more than hope and a desire for a better life. The challenges they faced were immense, as they navigated economic hardships, racial tensions, and the struggle to establish themselves in a new country.

Image: Ketan Dattani’s Parents

Growing up in a South-east London council estate, Ketan encountered daily racist taunts and violence. These experiences led to a lack of confidence and a constant search for approval and acceptance. He battled self-doubt, but his inherent resilience and his family’s values of hard work, integrity, and helping others carried him through.

A Journey of Self-Discovery

Despite these challenges, Ketan’s tenacity led him to find his passion in environmental matters. Ketan’s turning point came when he channelled his passion for environmental matters into education. Despite facing setbacks in his earlier academic journey, he pursued a degree in Environmental Biology and later a Masters in Environmental Planning and Management. This academic journey ignited his interest in the environmental sector, laying the foundation for his future endeavours.

Image: Ketan Dattani, channelling passion for the environment

His commitment to personal growth was coupled with a desire to uplift others. Ketan started volunteering with schools, colleges, and universities, offering guidance, workshops, and interviews to students aspiring to enter the environmental sector. This act of giving back reflected his philosophy of using his experiences to inspire and empower others.

The Birth of Buckingham Futures

In 2013, Ketan took a leap of faith and founded Buckingham Futures, a specialist consultancy providing Environmental Health personnel across the private and public sectors. His aim was not only to create a successful business but also to address the gap in the employment sector caused by challenges like population growth, resource demands, energy costs, and climate change impacts.

This year is Buckingham Futures 10 Year Anniversary and the team continues to drive forward, maintaining a positive business growth plan by operating in a niche technical discipline. Buckingham Futures’ reputation is built on solid foundations – a long history of successfully delivering positive outcomes for clients and candidates. By accurately identifying the needs of both clients and candidates ensures we remain effective and we are determined to maintain this level of commitment.

Image: Ketan Dattani, Buckingham Futures’ 10 Year Anniversary Toast

“We enjoy open dialogue and discussing the issues that really matter. You will always be greeted with an honest and understanding approach with integrity is our core value.
We offer an in-depth market knowledge and expertise to candidates and clients alike by a close knit and dedicated team of committed professionals, hired for their ambition and character, and encouraged to develop their careers within Buckingham Futures’ genuine meritocracy.

It is our level of knowledge that truly sets us apart. It is how we continue to outperform the kind of corporate faceless recruitment service we set out to counteract.” ~ Ketan Dattani, CEO of Buckingham Futures

Image: Buckngham Futures 10 Year Anniversary Team Photo – From Left to Right [Nick Cheung, Helen Dattani, Ketan Dattani, Carl Steptowe, Saloni Mukherjee, Jacques Shepherd, Jarrell Fenton, Vinny Jirapure, Gautam Gurung]

One of the defining features of Buckingham Futures is its unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. Ketan’s approach is holistic, extending from an unbiased, inclusive interview process to actively seeking diverse candidates. By fostering an environment where individuality is celebrated and embraced, he has created a workplace that attracts talent from various backgrounds. Our active marketing campaigns and collaborations with the UK professional body of Environmental Health has opened doors to introducing practitioners globally from Europe and Nigeria to Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

Image: Recruiting the Present, Inspiring the Future with Buckingham Futures

Championing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Ketan’s efforts to create an inclusive work environment extended to his executive team, reflecting his belief that diversity at the top level facilitates a top-down approach to inclusion. Recognising the underrepresentation of people of colour in the environmental sector, Ketan actively worked to provide opportunities, support networks, and mentorship for underrepresented individuals.
His commitment to diversity also manifested in his recruitment process, where an unbiased and inclusive approach was prioritised. Ketan’s diverse team of interviewers served as a testament to Buckingham Futures’ inclusive values and communicated to potential candidates that the company valued diversity.

Addressing Racial Inequality and Climate Change

Ketan recognises the intersections between racial inequality and climate change impacts. He points out that marginalised communities often bear the brunt of environmental issues, citing the perspectives of Black, Asian, and people of colour are consistently ignored in climate policy, yet these same people are bearing the brunt of the impact of climate change. In the UK, for example, black and brown people are exposed to greater levels of air pollution – up to 27% higher in London – than white people . His work aims to bring attention to these injustices and drive change on both fronts.

The lack of diversity within the environmental sector itself may discourage individuals from underrepresented groups from pursuing careers in the field. Without visible role models or a sense of belonging, individuals may be less likely to enter or persist in environmental professions. Cultural factors can influence career choices and preferences. Different cultural attitudes, values, and expectations may steer individuals towards other fields or industries, leading to variations in representation.

Advocacy and Community Involvement

Ketan’s family is multi-ethnic (Ugandan Indian, Greek Cypriot and Irish). As a parent, he was of the opinion that race should not be mentioned. However he did not want to raise his 4 children to be aware of differences — and to see everyone as equal. He understands that racism is an incredibly important conversation and should not be avoided.

Image: Ketan Dattani and family

Outside of his business, Ketan’s dedication to creating an equitable society extended to his community involvement. He volunteered with schools, colleges, and universities, offering career guidance, workshops, and opportunities for students, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and adults with learning difficulties. His efforts aimed to provide insights into the environmental sector and empower individuals to reach their potential.

The Ugandan Story and Giving Back

Clean water, a resource that many people in developed countries take for granted, is a luxury in certain parts of the world.More than 300 million of the 800 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa live in water-scarce environments. Without access to safe drinking water, diseases associated with poor hygiene, improper sanitation, and contaminated water develop.

Image: Ugandan Water Project developing the water well in Kamuli, Uganda.

Inspired by his parents’ history and his desire to provide for the community that “gave him his legacy,” he plans to commemorate his 50th birthday and Buckingham Futures 10 Year Anniversary by providing access to clean water for Kamuli, a town in Uganda. This act encapsulates his belief in the power of individual action to create lasting change

Image: Water Well plaques dedicated to Ketan Dattani’s parents.

Looking Ahead with Optimism

In the face of societal challenges, Ketan Dattani remains optimistic about the potential for positive transformation. He emphasises the importance of active participation and dialogue in addressing issues of diversity, equality, and inclusion. His journey from a young boy facing racial prejudice to a successful entrepreneur advocating for change illustrates that personal stories can ignite broader conversations and inspire action.

Ketan’s life story is a testament to the fact that adversity can be the catalyst for remarkable transformation. By choosing empathy, determination, and action, he has not only shaped his own path but has also become a beacon of hope and inspiration for others seeking to create a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable society.

Link to the article here: South Asian Heritage Month 2023