In light of recent events, the Black Lives Matter movement is one that has opened important dialogues and brought underlying issues to the surface. Dialogues that can no longer remain between the minority but actually, calls for action from all races.
In an industry known to be anchored by white males, as a young black woman, the plans on how we move forward as an organisation and community is of great value to me.
Recently, Lloyds Banking Group launched their Race Action Plan, a plan to focus on Culture, Recruitment and Progression. I’m pleased to see a plan that recognises that there is more to be done when we speak of Inclusivity.
My experience during my time within the Group, though pleasant, has spoken to the underrepresentation of peers that look like myself. It is a testament to how it is not enough to simply enjoy your job and colleagues but also feel as though you belong. I have transitioned through several roles and cohorts, still being the only Black lady in the room. Whilst, an experience that has now become a norm, it is times like this that awaken the reality that it is one that cannot continue.
When I speak of a sense of belonging, it goes beyond the colleague that supports the same team or enjoys the same music. Instead, I think of colleagues who can relate to my background or upbringing, colleagues who understand the drivers behind embedded personality traits or nuances in the way I process and deliver information in comparison to my white counterparts. I think of role models within senior, executive roles that look like me. Sadly, these have only been hopes rather than actual experiences.
When large organisations speak of the existing statistics of their black colleagues it has often been in tune with increasing diversity, to open up opportunity for diverse thinking, diverse ideas. It is however, more than this. It is about improving those statistics for those individuals first. To provide an environment where belonging is not a luxury.
I’m pleased to be a part of an organisation initiating and engaging in those difficult conversations, making the necessary first steps and holding themselves accountable to make a change. With this, I hope to be able to say in the coming year that I’m part of an organisation who has been successful in making those changes.
For my colleagues who want to make an impact, to be voices for and amongst their Black colleagues, my advice is simple. Don’t let recent events become a memory of the past, keep the conversations alive, consider your black peers in times of opportunity and do your part by expanding your understanding.