GARTH DALLAS: A SENSE OF JUSTICE FROM AN EARLY AGE
I was born in Jamaica, the last of eight children in a family filled with great diversity of characters, instilling in me, from a very young age the values of ‘collective before self.’
I have very fond memories of my childhood, particularly my high school years. I attended what I’d describe as ‘the greatest high school in the world’, Kingston College (KC), an all-boys school with unrivalled history of academic and sporting excellence, balanced with specially chosen extra-curricular activities that armed young men with the necessary skills to embark on young adulthood.
The KC motto, Fortis Cadere Cedere Non Potest – The Brave May Fall But Never Yield – has been the driving force behind everything that I have done since graduating from that sterling institution.
I left Jamaica in 1987 to take up an academic scholarship in Chemical Engineering in Hungary. I spent the first year learning the language in Budapest, in preparation for spending the next 5 years in a rural university completing a BSc in Chemical Engineering and a MSc in Chemical Control Engineering, alongside native Hungarians.
Those years in Hungary were very significant in shaping my social consciousness and understanding of cultural diversity and the need to extend ones head above the parapet to act as a beacon of change and awareness. I left in 1994 as a ‘social activist’, having experienced first-hand the turbulent and rapidly dynamic political and social changes in East and Central Europe, some of which had extremely negative effects on acceptance of ‘differences’.
I have been in the proximity of, and threatened by Neo-Nazis; I have been called everything people of colour are called; I have been denied opportunities and entry to venues because of my race. I’ve had all of that, but I’ve also learned that getting bitter is not the way and I am the biggest advocate of the beauty and value of diversity.
I had already embarked on various entrepreneurial projects whilst at university in Hungary and had a burning desire to build my own successful enterprise which would allow me the necessary freedom to explore my vision of influencing change towards achieving a fairer society, in an ever shrinking globe, in the age of globalisation.
Before leaving Hungary I applied to the University of Liverpool, and was accepted, for their MBA course, thus cementing the next phase in my development as an adopted son of Liverpool, which has been my home ever since. I am a life-long fan of Liverpool Football Club, as are my two sons who were both born in Liverpool, so it was not difficult to settle quickly into the civic, business and social fabric of this fantastic city.
After completing my MBA I had managerial roles in several companies, qualified in Law and built a career in Equality and Diversity Management.
Driven by a sense of social justice and the belief in an equitable, compassionate world where difference is understood, valued and respected, this eventually led me to create two companies, Diversity Partners International and Dallas Legal – both heavily linked to principles of fairness and inclusivity.
Diversity Partners International has been merged into the Diverse Magazine brand and provides a range of related services to private, public and voluntary sector organisations to foster good workplace practices.
Dallas Legal offers a comprehensive suite of up-to-date legal compliance, experienced legal representation, proactive legal protection and practical commercial advice supported by strategic planning and implementation mentoring.
The path of both businesses has enabled me to be involved in community engagement, tackling social exclusion, empowering and developing local community leadership and helping build a community’s capacity to meet its own needs.
I’m still driven by what I term the absolutely insane lack of fairness; decency and equality in society. I won’t consider myself to be successful whilst there is still a need for the work that I do.