This year’s theme for Black History Month is ‘Time for Change: Action not Words’. We wanted to talk to our staff and apprentice panel members about what changes they have seen in their lifetimes and careers, and what still needs to change.
For Saskia, who is on an advanced engineering apprenticeship, she is deeply aware that
the sector that I work in is one of the least diverse racially, culturally and in gender diversity within the UK – so at present, I do not get to work with many different people.
She went on to say:
Change is being made both within my company and within the Engineering sector as a whole with more and more BAME people entering the sector year on year due to changes in recruitment and promotion pathways.
As a football fan, Rico highlighted the Premier League’s "No room for racism” campaign as a
step in the right direction – even if more actions need to be put in place – as there now seems to be stricter rules and repercussions for those who racially attack people or the players at the games.
For Jonathan, his own experience in education is influencing how he raises his child:
When reading English at St Andrews in the 1990s, only one non-white author was included on any of my reading lists; I don’t remember studying any history at all at school that wasn’t about Western Europe. As a consequence, I’m determined my five-year-old son’s horizons won’t be so narrow.
We want him to grow up informed about the tragedies, heroics and joys in black history, art, music and literature: the full richness of global culture, with its highs and lows.
Dilraj shared a similar sentiment. He said:
We need to reflect and educate ourselves and peers to have a better understanding of our own privilege and what steps we can further take to bridge the gap to equality.
I know I’m not a perfect ally, but I want to continue to work towards becoming a better one, so I look forward to taking an active part in Black History Month to continue to learn and listen. I’m particularly looking forward to the internal IfATE Black History Month Book Club which provides colleagues with a space to share thoughts and listen to each other.
I hope more organisations take actions to learn, grow and do better.
People can sometimes feel uncomfortable discussing race, for example people have concerns over different views of correct terminology, but it should be everyone’s responsibility to ensure we discuss and enact change rather than avoid these conversations.
This year’s theme for Black History Month is ‘Action not Words’: this shows us we need to go beyond educating ourselves and really begin to make real, long-term actions to achieve real outcomes.
To end on a quote from Tamzin, a member of our panel of apprentices:
When it comes to being a good ally, I believe it is worth recognising my social privilege as a white person and using that to speak up against discrimination when I see it – to challenge racism, and to make it known that those are not principles I tolerate.
Next week, our Strategy Directors, Dr Rachel Cooper and Beth Chaudhary, will be sharing what steps IfATE are taking on equity, diversity and inclusion within our own organisation and the work we do across the technical education system.