Published date: Thursday, 29 October 2020

Black History Month Recap: More Than Just A Month: Long-term Actions To Drive Industry Diversity

On Wednesday 21st October 2020, LoopMe held an internal panel discussion to celebrate Black History Month (UK). The panel discussion, titled ‘More Than Just a Month: Long-term actions to Drive Industry Diversity’ explored some of the key issues faced by black people, and identified ways in which we can all tackle social injustices. 

LoopMe invited a variety of external talent to join us, our three panelists consisted of:

  • Camilla Calvert, Global Creative Solutions Manager, Hearst
  • Maria Pentga-Wallace, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Financial Ombudsman
  • Elizabeth Anyaegbuna, Co-founder, sixteenbyninemedia

Our panel was moderated by LoopMe’s own Jaimesh Patel, Sales Director.

Panelists shared their perspectives on what it means to have a commitment to diversity and gave us insight into how they have demonstrated that commitment. Maria Pentga-Wallace highlighted that in order to demonstrate her commitment, she lives by her values of social justice, authenticity and amplifies unheard voices.

Elizabeth Anyaegbuna shared the story behind her motivation to set-up sixteenbynine media. She realised that in order to encourage diversity, she needed to represent and reflect black females within our industry. 

Furthermore, we explored strategies for dealing with situations where someone may feel isolated because of their ethnicity. Camilla Calvert spoke about being ‘othered’ and the importance of calling out the situation and responding appropriately. Maria shared her personal experiences where her contributions have been ignored, or attributed to a white colleague. Whilst these experiences adversely affected her self-esteem she turned her attention to working on unconscious bias’ and dealing with microaggressions. 

Our conversation then turned to what learnings can be taken from Black History Month UK to be more understanding towards the issues faced by black communities. Elizabeth reinforced how Black History isn’t just a month in a year, it’s all around us, it plays an active part in the now. 

Maria drew attention to the fact that Black History is British History, that Black people’s contributions in the UK predate Windrush and the Roman and Medieval period; we need to reflect upon centuries of exploitation. To drive a meaningful shift, Active Allyship is required, said Camilla Calvert. 

Lastly we explored Diversity and Inclusion initiatives and whether people can often assume that these initiatives need to be driven by junior members of staff. 

Our panelists shared their thoughts on how these initiatives need to be worked on collaboratively, but need to be led by senior management who set the tone, cultural norms and psychologically safe environments. Senior leadership ultimately devise policy however, they need to listen, collaborate and inform that policy. The process must be a joint effort, but senior leadership are the leaders… so they need to lead.  

More and more companies are putting corporate social responsibility at the forefront of their day-to-day activities. Through our CSR committee LoopMe’s aim is to provide all employees with the relevant training and best practices to ensure that they are educated on how to combat social injustices.