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Black History Month 2022: Personal stories from across the group

Published on October 31, 2022

Throughout the month of October, the UK’s Black History Month, members of RSK with Unity, our employee-led network for those of ethnically diverse backgrounds, ran a series of events to celebrate diversity and inclusion across the group. Both black history and ethnic diversity were celebrated through a series of personal videos and activities.

Lived experiences of racism and difficulty

It is impossible to celebrate diversity without also acknowledging the challenges those of diverse heritage face.

“When I was first working, I was the only coloured person in our office. Now, of course, it’s not the same. Society has moved on.” – Don Anthony, father of Charlini Sayer, Senior Project Accountant, Binnies UK

“Fifty per cent of British Muslims struggle to feed themselves because of the cost of living crisis. Forty-six per cent of the Muslim population resides in the bottom 10% of the most deprived local authority districts in England. Nearly 60% of online media articles have associated Muslims with negative behaviour.” – Ammar Ahmad, Senior Project Manager, Binnies UK

“We were in this bar, and the table next to us shouted at us, calling us a ‘bunch of Asians’. It was really weird that they had grouped us all together like that, and it just felt uncomfortable. Another thing is that I always get asked where I am from, and I say ‘London’, and the follow-up is, ‘no, where are you from, from?’” – Chantae Wells, Graduate Ecologist, Binnies UK

“Don’t let others define your career goals.” – Praveen Joshi, Managing Director, RSK Business Solutions Pvt Ltd

Taking pride in our place of heritage

People of diverse heritage often feel an affinity with more than one location, so RSK with Unity’s members took pride in their ‘other home’ with facts and information about places from their heritage, such as where they or their parents moved from, or what the values they were brought up with mean to them.

“My first home is the United Kingdom, but my other home is in Punjab, India, and the area, the district I come from is Jalandhar. One really important thing that my heritage taught me is praying to our gurus, gods, for the good things that have happened in my life, and to ask for forgiveness for the bad things that I may have done.” – Jagtar Chonkaria, Head of Commissioning, Binnies UK

“The values I was raised with mean the most to me. There’s ahimsa, which is commonly understood as non-violence, and my favourite, vasudev kutumbakam, which says that the whole world is one family. These are the things that have shaped the way I see the world and the people who live in it with me. They’ve pushed me to pursue the career path I’m on, and they’ve pushed me to care about the things I care about, from Black Lives Matter to refugees and their plight.” – Devika Jina, Marketing and Communications Lead, RSK Group

The difference diversity makes

Lastly, the RSK with Unity network explored equality, diversity and inclusion as critical values in the workplace and what it means to them to see people of their backgrounds achieving.

“Ethnic minority role models are very important because you have to see it to believe it. When I was growing up, I wasn’t quite sure [what I wanted to do] and I looked up different careers. I never saw anyone who looked like me in the case profiles of the people working in the companies I worked for. And looking back, I think it would have been really good because it wouldn’t have felt like such a lonely experience.” Edi Idahosa-Taylor, Director of Toxicology, Water Research Centre

“We have seen a whole range of Asian Indian CEOs in America who have come up, from Sundar Pichai at Google to Parag Agrawal at Twitter, and now every developer believes they can reach those positions. When you look at these people, you feel ‘they’ve achieved it, we can do it as well’. So it helps fuel the ambition within young people.” Praveen Joshi, Managing Director, RSK Business Solutions Pvt Ltd

Proactively looking towards equality

When the RSK group marked Black History Month last year in 2021, we committed to voluntarily disclosing our ethnicity pay gap (EPG) in the UK. Published today, our analysis has found that our workforce has an under-representation of diverse ethnic groups compared to the UK working age population – a challenge that persists in many of the industries we serve. As we look ahead, we will take action to help attract more diverse candidates to work with us and continue to collaborate with our employee networks, with whom we can promote representation across the global RSK family and learn about the experiences of our colleagues.

RSK group is committed to nurturing a welcoming, diverse and equal environment for its team members and encourages people to join its employee-led networks. RSK with Unity is open to everyone, either as a member or as an ally, so that everyone feels valued, represented and empowered. Thank you to all the members of the RSK with Unity network for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.

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