October is UK Black History Month
Black History Month originated in the 1920’s in America, it has been celebrated in the UK since 1987. It is an occasion which gives everyone (regardless of background) the chance to recognise and understand the impact of Black heritage and culture, and the huge impact Black people have had on our history and society. It’s also a time to reflect on the discrimination and barriers Black people have faced throughout history and still today.
What’s the theme for Black History Month 2023?
The theme for 2023 is ‘Saluting Sisters’ focusing on celebrating the achievements of Black women the crucial role that black women have played in shaping history and inspiring change, and building communities.
As recruiters in the Technology markets, we’d like to spotlight on inspiring Black women in STEM, such as Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a prominent space scientist, who has made incredibly important contributions to space science, but who also worked to promote science education and diversity in STEM through her work with schools and who founded Stemettes, a social enterprise that aims to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM.
Find out more about these incredible women and their contributions to STEM HERE!
What are Forward Role doing to celebrate Black History Month?
At Forward Role, it was really important to us to share resources about the amazing Black women who have contributed to their fields, as well as stories from the wider Black community. We also spoke with one of our employees, Camoree Wright to hear his own experiences of discrimination and the lack of racial diversity within the recruitment industry. Check out our interview below:
Camoree, why is Black History Month important to you?
Black History Month is important because it showcases what Black people have done and the positive impact they have had on society. I’m not a massive fan of having a “month” or such because truthfully if equality was real, we would take heed of what Black people have done alongside what others have done throughout the year.
As well as a month of celebration for Black people, it also allows non-Black people from other cultures to gain more of an understanding around the numerous cultures that Black people come from.
Tell us about your personal experience of growing up in the UK; have you ever experienced discrimination?
My parents are of American & Jamaican descent, so growing up there was a lot of attachment to culture, especially on my Jamaican side due to being around that side of the family more.
There’s been numerous times I have been discriminated against, but a time that probably stands out the most was a cousin of mine and another child got into a scuffle at a swimming centre, and the parent of the child waited in her car for us to come out and started calling us a very offensive racial slur.
Obviously being under 10 years old you are completely oblivious to what this means but fortunately I’ve always had the love and support of my family so I’ve never questioned my race.
Do you feel that there is still a lack of racial diversity in the recruitment industry?
100%! I can only talk on my own experience but I definitely have to be considered with everything I do to avoid “stereotypes”.
People love to brand Black people as being “loud” or “aggressive” when in reality Black people just tend to be very expressive and the person in questions is more than likely just being themselves. And being yourself shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, should it?
There’s also the issue of people experiencing prejudice and discrimination in recruitment due to names not sounding English or being unfamiliar, especially on CVs.
What can employers do to support racial equality?
Honestly, I don’t know. I feel that “diversity & inclusion” policies are often a farce or a tick boxing exercise.
Sometimes I’ve even had to question myself whether I’m in a particular job to tick diversity boxes or hit quotas, rather than because of my ability. At Forward Role, I’m fortunate enough to have never felt like a diversity hire at all and from day one I’ve never felt different to anybody else. Everyone here has been so genuine, and I personally have never felt out of place or different because of the colour of my skin.
Forward Role are leading global marketing, digital and technology recruiters, we are proud of our inclusive culture. We partner with many clients to provide data and advice to achieve their own internal ED&I objectives, including JD Sports, which you can read about - here in Recruiter.
Article written in collaboration with Camoree Wright, Sam Shinners and Mel Knight.