Black History: much more than a month
By Bridget Lea, MD Commercial, BT Consumer
As Black History Month draws to a close, I am feeling proud to be a part of an organisation that is committed to driving positive change. Internally and externally, we have recognised, shared and celebrated Black History across the BT family and continued to make our drive for equality a headline.
There have been many important moments. The BT Sport studios hosted Business In The Community's Manifesto For Action event – joining with UK industry leaders and committing to making a stand to put the spotlight on race equality in the workplace. As part of that commitment, BT has signed the BITC Race At Work Charter, which includes five calls to action to ensure ethnic minority colleagues are represented at all levels.
I have had the privilege to be a part of two inspiring panel discussions with an audience of Consumer colleagues and incredible guests such as David Olusoga and Emma Dabiri, talking about the forgotten aspects of black history hiding in plain sight in our towns and cities – and why we must continue to tell these stories.
We've released our Standing Firm documentary on BT Sport, telling the inspiring story of the Windrush Generation, and how they have shaped British culture and sport. We've seen Rio and Anton Ferdinand talk about the Windrush generation in a wider and more personal context. And through our Hope United campaign, we’ve been championing other forgotten but hugely influential black voices.
With EE, we’ve celebrated some amazing Black British Talent in technology who are making history right now. Serlina Boyd, who you can learn more about in the previous link, is the publisher of the first magazine produced specifically for black children. I was interviewed by two brilliant kids, Imara and Shay (pictured), as part of Cocoa Magazine’s Role Model series, with whom I could share my own story and career advice.
My personal highlight, however, was joining my colleagues at our first ever Stand Together Awards, recognising some of the brilliant people at BT who have worked hard and made a real difference with their work on inclusion.
I also feel very privileged to have been recognised by Retail Week as an Inspirational Black Leader in the Industry – I will continue to work collaboratively with leaders across industries to motivate and inspire change.
This might be the end of Black History Month, but it cannot be the end of the conversation.
If we are to drive real change, then we need to keep the conversation going in our own teams and organisations. So, what’s next? Here at BT, I am super excited that we have partnered with 10,000 Black Interns programme to offer paid internships to help transform the horizons and prospects of young black people in the UK. I am also proud that BT has partnered with the Aleto Foundation, supporting in identifying and developing the next generation of leaders from communities who have historically found it challenging to access jobs due to their backgrounds.
As a black, female senior leader, I know first-hand the challenges of getting to the next level in your career and the importance of seeing people that look like you at the highest level within organisations. I am committed alongside my BT colleagues to taking action and ensuring we continue to build a diverse and representative workforce.
It’s our responsibility to step up and take the time to continue to educate ourselves and our fellow colleagues so we can build more successful, more diverse businesses that reflect the customers we serve. This is not a ‘nice to have’. It is an absolute necessity.
Let’s work together, be an ally and act now so we can continue to make real progress across the calendar year – not just for one month.