I feel honoured to be able to speak on behalf of the BAME community and that Insight has committed to having a BAME community within our Diversity & Inclusion Task Force and initiatives. The Race Equality Support Programme & Ethnicity Champions Team (RESPECT), launched in 2020, is dedicated to driving diversity and inclusion, encouraging recruitment, professional development and retention across communities.
Equal rights are a sensitive but relevant subject, it has been a long-fought battle for centuries; from the persecution of Jews in the Roman Empire to the abolition of slavery in 1865 in the United States.
Recently, the media has shown a lot of negativity, including hostile situations and police brutality, which has fuelled the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. However, I personally believe that it is important to recognise and reflect on the positive outcomes. We have seen many great Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals being celebrated in their respective fields, showing myself and the whole world what can be achieved despite the ‘category’ you were born into.
Insight EMEA has the following D&I mission statement:
"At Insight EMEA we are privileged to operate within a diverse, multicultural workforce, with offices spanning across the continent. This means that we are stronger together, that we enable each other to celebrate successful outcomes derived from a mix of different perspectives, different experiences, different opinions no matter what our background."
I feel that our mission is incredibly powerful and I'd like to break down the statement into the parts that stand out to me.
To me, this means recognising that we are all 'human beings'. It means being accounted for, not just for my ethnicity, but the value and perspectives that I bring to the entire team. Finally, by having an awareness of our collective strengths and by driving inclusion, our individual strengths are leveraged in our respective work environments.
I recognise that I can't represent all individuals within the BAME community. As much as we may all fit within the one community, we are all still individuals with different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.
My personal experience is that of young boy growing up in Sierra Leone, who moved to Gambia due to the war in 1996 and then had the opportunity to move to England in 2000. At only seven years old, I had already had a very diverse set of experiences. Reaching England felt strange to me, as a few days before I got on the plane, I was the same as everyone else in my community, I felt no different. Then overnight, I saw comparable differences to most of the people that surrounded me.
Growing up as one of the few ‘ethnic minorities’ in a school in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, I quickly learnt to look past some of the issues that I experienced. The mindset of this young boy, was that it was a privilege to be in England, and therefore the downsides; the cold and being a minority was all part of the package that I had to accept. Having this mindset encouraged me to look past some of the prejudice, such as careless comments, being followed around shops, wrongly stopped on the street or in the car and much more.
I constantly questioned to myself whether this was deliberate discrimination. Was it conscious or subconscious bias? Was this ignorance due to a lack of cultural education or exposure to others? This is why I would want to encourage everyone to be open-minded, ask questions and stay curious. These are commendable traits to have.
Although my experiences sound like they have been somewhat negative, I feel that my situation is a very fortunate one. Although there may have been some serious issues that I have had to face, I can't discount the fact that other people’s experiences have been dangerous, life threatening and in some more perilous cases – life ending.
"Different perspectives & different opinions no matter what our background"
We have all encountered varying experiences as individuals. The fact that Insight welcomes "Different perspectives & different opinions no matter what our background" makes me feel empowered as a member of the BAME community. Insight's core values of Hunger, Heart and Harmony really hit home for me. I joined Insight as a graduate with no experience, entering the IT industry and I felt that this organisation was going to empower me to achieve.
This further resonates with me when speaking with Ozioma Uzoegwu, who has done incredibly well in his career in the tech industry; Zephaniah Chukwudum who is a recognised leader for the BAME community at Microsoft; David Offor who chose to work at Insight as he believes that our organisation matches his core values and Dan Ishaka, who is excelling in his career, and speaks zealously about the opportunities that lay before him.
I have been blessed to have great mentors around me since my first day at Insight. Our company is recognised in the industry for having very talented people and I am delighted to be part of the team.
I can wholeheartedly say that I am proud to be a part of the Insight team and the work we do. Our leaders are working very hard behind the scenes to drive our Diversity & Inclusion team forward. The D&I team speak very passionately about 'paving the path' for the up and coming generations, discussing matters such as education, mentorship, conducting ethnicity pay reviews and more.
All of this is being done right now, when it matters and we are not waiting in the wings for when it becomes a legal requirement. This team are fighting to recognise talent from its core and not the package that it may be wrapped in, and that's why Insight is such a great place to work.