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Tag: black history month

Three ways firms can help Black staff thrive beyond Black History Month

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Black History Month may be coming to an end but that doesn’t mean we should table the conversation about supporting black employees within companies. 

There needs to be an ongoing effort by business leaders to improve inclusivity and integration of BAME communities in the workplace. Although much has been done for inclusivity, sadly minority communities still face many challenges with their professional progression after passing the first few hurdles. 

So how can firms build a better environment for black employees to better support them? Here are three things you could implement:

 

  1. Re-evaluate your protocols and gather feedback
    One of the first things to do is to re-examine your internal procedures and company structures. By analysing the data available to you within your organisation, you can identify the areas of organisational dynamics that need improvement.Research has shown that UK black employees hold only 1.5% of senior roles, which has only increased 0.1% since 2014 [1]. This reveals a deep-rooted organisational problem that generates barriers affecting progression of BAME communities.

    Although many companies may argue that the opportunities for senior roles for BAME employees exist but there aren’t enough BAME employees to be considered, this highlights a bigger problem faced by minority communities in workplaces.
    Surveys have revealed that 46% of black employees plan to leave their workplaces due to negative experiences with workplace culture and racism in the UK [2]. This coupled with the systemic barriers to their progression makes it extremely difficult for representation of BAME in leadership to improve.
    Therefore, it’s important to create a systematic and continuous method of gathering feedback from your minority employees in order to learn and build better working experiences.

  2.  Encourage difficult conversations and educate within your organisation
    While data is important to power better decision making, it’s also important to have those necessary and sometimes difficult conversations within your company.In the post pandemic world where we are adopting an “everything back to business” mindset, it can be easy to sweep certain problems under the rug as we focus our efforts on recovering industries. However, in order to create positive change, the conversations surrounding inequality still need to be encouraged – and regularly.

    For example, conversations about the gender pay gap need to also address the extremely low percentage of less than 0.1% of black women being top earners in the UK [3]. While the gender pay gap is a different challenge in the workplace, we cannot neglect the role that race has in it as well.

    By regularly having such conversations, employees within firms can better learn and understand the workplace experiences of BAME communities and empower introspection within your firm that leads to positive changes.

  3. Lead consciously with purpose and build trust
    Building a workplace culture that supports black employees may arguably be redundant without trust in the leadership.You could be creating an outstanding structure within your organisation that supports growth of BAME employees but if they don’t believe you have their best interests as a priority, you will likely still see poor retention of minority employees.

    A culture of trust is largely built around the credibility of leadership, an atmosphere of fairness and demonstrating a high level of respect for all employees. It is important that those in leadership positions have contact with minority employees and seek to understand their experiences within the workplace.

    Although we often blame the “system” for inequalities and leaders are responsible for changing it, they must remember that they are also part of the system and therefore will be doing or not doing things that hold minority communities back.

    Speaking to BAME employees and asking simple questions like “how could I support you?” or “do you feel there is anything I may be doing unintentionally that is blocking you?” is powerful in getting the insight necessary to create change. It can also help facilitate more conversations in the workplace around inequality. 

    These recommendations will not be the definitive driving force for positive change however it is a good starting point for firms to improve. Companies will need to be consistent in their efforts beyond Black History Month and continuously learn and adapt their approaches in order to move towards creating workplaces where employees are valued and treated fairly.

References:

[1] https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/article/1744977/black-employees-hold-just-1-5-per-cent-of-senior-roles

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-13/almost-half-of-uk-black-professionals-plan-to-leave-their-jobs?leadSource=uverify%20wall

[3] https://www.lse.ac.uk/News/Latest-news-from-LSE/2021/c-March-21/Black-women-are-least-likely-to-be-among-UKs-top-earners

Black History Month

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It’s October which marks Black History Month! A month that has been celebrated annually in the UK since 1987. This marks a time when we come together and acknowledge our diverse culture and celebrate the history and achievements of black heroes both past and present that have contributed to making our society a better place.

Black History Month originated from Carter G Woodson, who wanted to challenge the assumptions at the time that ‘the negro had no history’. This resulted in Carter founding the Association for the Study of Negro and History in 1915, which aimed to encourage research and protect and preserve black history and culture. However, the idea was first brought into the UK, in the 1980s by Akyaaba Addai Sebo to eradicate discrimination and promote the importance of equality across the UK [1].

In the US and Canada, black history month is in February, whilst in the UK and Ireland, we celebrate it in October. Why? This is because, Akyaaba Addai Sebo chose it, as it fell in line with the start of the academic year and therefore thought it would inspire young people. Alongside the fact, October is traditionally when African leaders unite and settle their differences, so it was chosen as a month to reconnect [1].

Being part of the tech industry, we undoubtedly recognise the multitude of black engineers and leaders that have pushed for change in the tech industry. As well as pushing technology forward through the invention of numerous products and features that have set the stage for technologies we still rely on today and inevitably will in our future. Here, we share three extraordinary examples of black pioneers that have made a large contribution to the tech industry.

 

  1. Firstly, we must obviously discuss the incredible legacy of Marain Croack. She is an inventor in the voice and data communication field [2] and is best known for envisioning and developing the technology that is responsible for Voice Over Internet Protocol. This invention has meant we can make calls over the internet instead of a phone line. Which Devyce know all about and have you to thank for contributing to an integral part of our business!
  2. John Henry Thompson, ‘the father of Lingo programming’ [3] invented Lingo, a scripting language that displays visuals in computer programmes. His programming language is embedded into Macromedia Director and popular Adobe Programmes [4]. Essentially, his work has helped combine the world of art and tech in video games, graphic design, web design and computer graphics today. Both designers and Adobe users should thank Thompson!
  3. Lastly, Kimberley Bryant, is an excellent modern-day example of an inspirational black leader that is making positive change in the tech world. Kimberley founded Black Girls CODE, whose mission is to help young women of colour get into the tech world by introducing them to numerous science and technology concepts. Currently, Black Girls CODE has reached 30,000 women and has taught over 50,000 hours [5]. It is clear that her actions have already helped so many young women. Her drive to change the narrative within the tech industry surrounding diversity in STEM, will undeniably have a positive impact on our future, as it will increase the number of female black, tech founders, entrepreneurs and leaders. 

    Of course, there are also many more inspirational leaders and influencers, and we encourage you to explore more! 

    You can also celebrate this month by:

  • Raising money for a charity that is dedicated to helping the lives of ethnic minorities.
  • Shopping from blacked owned businesses or supporting them in other ways by sharing them on social media platforms, with friends and family.

References: 

[1] https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/black-history-month-2022-uk-why-is-it-important-why-celebrated-in-october-a4250966.html 

[2] https://lemelson.mit.edu/resources/marian-croak#:~:text=Croak%20is%20a%20prolific%20inventor,computer%20or%20other%20digital%20device

[3] https://blog.adafruit.com/2015/02/26/john-henry-thompson-invented-lingo-programming-used-in-macromedia-director-and-shockwave-african-american-history-month-2015-blackhistorymonth/

[4] https://tisch.nyu.edu/itp/events/fall-2017/dice-with-john-henry-thompson#:~:text=John%20Thompson%20invented%20lingo%20programming,design%2C%20animation%2C%20and%20graphics.

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