Six reasons we’re proud to celebrate Black History Month by Joy Ajadi
This month we celebrated Black History Month, the annual celebration of the history, achievements and contributions of Black people from the UK and beyond. Our firm’s Black History Month celebrations have included an extensive programme of virtual events which were designed to not only entertain and educate, but to celebrate Black history, arts and culture.
I want to share six things I’m proud of which are helping to make our firm more inclusive for people from all ethnicities.
- Celebrating Black history and culture at Grant Thornton - In the 14 years that I have worked at Grant Thornton, I can’t remember such a phenomenal effort being made to celebrate and educate our people about Black history. Seeing the fantastic events put together by my colleagues made me very happy and very proud. Black History Month is about recognising the contributions that Black people have made to history and culture, especially to help others learn about things that aren’t taught in schools. It’s a platform for everyone to understand what being Black means.
- Creating safe spaces to have challenging conversations – The panel session ‘Real Talk’ created a positive and safe space for people to ask questions about stereotypes, microaggressions and myths, but ultimately to educate and celebrate different ethnicities. It’s the type of conversation we need to have and one that will hopefully continue.
- In Conversation with...Professor Sir Geoff Palmer OBE, Shalom Lloyd, Amaechi Nsofor and Ngunan Adamu – I loved the cross-section of people on the panel, as it ranged from the world of academia and the corporate world to a Nigerian entrepreneur who speaks fluent Russian. The different backgrounds and stories on how they were able to get to where they are today was informative and inspiring.
- Shining a light on the unknown – We are beginning to speak more openly about disability and long-term health conditions, predominantly mental health, so it was reassuring to see a conversation focused on health as part of the lineup of events. The conversation around sickle cell in the session 'Sickle Cell: Our Stories', with Ade Adebisi and Denice Koduah, was insightful, relatable, knowledgeable and humorous, yet it also highlighted how we can all support those not only with this disease, but other conditions.
- Learning, laughing and cooking together – October has been another difficult month as restrictions to our normal lives continue and, for many, have started to increase. The Black History Month calendar of events provided us with an opportunity to socialise with our colleagues and get to know them a little better – whether that was through book clubs, a live online comedy show, music, various articles or a virtual cook along with a chef; there was something for everyone, all whilst learning something new!
- Investing to make real and lasting change – Though Black History Month ends on 31 October, the driving principles behind it: understanding different perspectives; celebrating difference; rewarding and recognising diverse talent; and providing equal access to opportunity, are things that we need to do all the time. I’m excited to be starting a new 50% secondment role focusing on driving the ethnicity agenda for the firm, where I’ll be working with the wider inclusion and diversity team and our Senior Leadership Team around what more we can do to attract and retain talented Black and ethnic minority people in our firm.
To learn more about what we are doing to create an everyday inclusive culture, visit our inclusion and diversity page.