Celebrating Black History Month at RSK

November 03, 2021

At RSK, we are committed to making equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) core to our company culture. We recognise the importance of valuing and celebrating what makes us different.

Throughout October, we wanted to recognise Black History Month and take the opportunity to celebrate the diversity in our organisation and beyond. We are delighted that our UK BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Employee Network has been acknowledging the event with a number of videos and articles throughout the month that have shared personal stories and perspectives from our professionals of diverse ethnic backgrounds, allies and clients. The theme for Black History Month is “Proud to Be” and the curated videos have showcased this, while providing learning insights on the benefits of diversity and the role of ally.

Ian Henry, Learning and Development Coordinator at Headland Archaeology, shared the first in a series of personal stories videos, sharing his experiences of being the first black employee at a number of organisations, adding that at Headland, he is “proud to work for a company that is representative and supportive of diversity”. Alongside Ian’s video, Michael Isherwood, Legal Counsel at Binnies, shared his perspective on the importance of listening and creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable to speak of their own experiences “without judgement”. The second pair of insights were from Tony Koodie, Regional Process Director at Binnies UK, who shared that for him, “there is nothing more valuable, in whatever career you pursue, than seeing someone in your profession that looks like you, because ultimately they inspire you”, and Eddie Robinson, Principal Consultant at Binnies, whose video challenges how he sees himself as an ally, acknowledging that as a result of “the way that the engaged values of Binnies have been put together, I do feel safe” to express these thoughts and challenge people to better understand each other to create a safer, more inclusive environment.

Mick Roberts, Head of Procurement at Anglian Water, gave his perspective as a client, highlighting the importance of role models in an industry where there are few people from diverse backgrounds to look up to. Mike emphasised the importance of this in supporting career development and the value of representation in creating opportunities for employees.

The last pair of stories in this series was told by Jagtar Chonkaria, Head of Commissioning at Binnies UK, in which he shared his pride in “working for the last 34 years with a company that recognises me for being a fellow engineer and fellow professional with my own identity”, and by Karen Parker, Project Manager at Binnies UK, in her video that highlighted that there is always time to better understand the perspectives and experiences of others and to learn from friends and colleagues to become more supportive and a stronger ally.

In addition to the personal stories video series, members of the Employee Network shared their perspectives on “Benefits of Diversity” in a second series of learning insight videos. Themes discussed by members of the network included increasing innovation and increasing profits, noting that a business is twice as likely to be high performing with a diverse workforce. Conversations on the benefits of a diverse workforce extended to the potential for better decision-making and business outcomes, improved agility and problem solving, as well as higher employee engagement.

The last video series curated by the UK BAME Employee Network was titled “Role of Allies”. The first pair of videos discussed what it means to be an ally; these videos shared insights on how to ensure we maximise the benefits of diversity, hear different perspectives and the importance of amplifying voices, and discussed the importance of cultivating the right environment to hear these diverse perspectives. Members of the network also shared their perspectives on why it is important to listen to the experiences and stories of minority employees in the organisation, why it is important to ask questions, the courage it takes to do so and why being a visible role model for supportive behaviour in your organisation sets a powerful example. Lastly, these conversations addressed the burden of microaggressions and the how they create an overall negative environment that directly affects wellbeing and performance.

In other areas of the business, Tony Koodie, chair of the UK BAME Employee Network, hosted a Virtual Insight interview titled “Doing the right thing”, in which he interviewed Alan Ryder, Chief Executive Officer, and Zoe Brunswick, HR Director, on their vision for equality, diversity and inclusion at RSK.

Increasing both diversity and inclusion has a significant impact on creating a dynamic, innovative and competitive business. It is integral to the success of our business and supports our corporate responsibility and sustainability efforts. We want our RSK family to be the best that it can be and that is why the board has signed an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Pledge to support increasing our efforts towards EDI across all areas of our business.

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