At NTT DATA, we are leading the way in celebrating and championing inclusion in the workplace every day. Diversity & Inclusion is more than an aspiration. We recognise it as a core priority of the organisation, strengthening our ability to deliver value to clients. This is how we DO DIVERSITY.
Black History Month is an annual celebration of the achievements of black people. It provides a fantastic opportunity for us to recognise the outstanding contributions of people of African and Caribbean descent who have shaped our history and culture. It is a time to celebrate the here and now, as well as look ahead at how we can work together to help make the world more inclusive.
Black History Month began in the US in the 1970s at Kent State University and is now observed across the US, UK, The Netherlands, Ireland and Canada.
At NTT DATA UK, whilst we recognise the importance of black history all year round, we wanted to use Black History Month as an opportunity to educate our employees and celebrate the huge impact that black British people have had on contemporary culture.
CEN Presents EmbRACE
EmbRACE was the latest event hosted by our Culture and Ethnicity Network, focusing on black history and culture in Britain.
Hosted virtually, the webinar was split into four talks on different topics, each presented by different speakers. Across History, Art, Sound and Style, the aim was to ensure that participants felt that they were in the room with us, in spite of lockdown restrictions.
The first talk was hosted by Victoria Adigun and Funmi Ososanya. They took the audience on a journey through British history, enlightening us about how black people have played a leading role in shaping our country across the centuries. We learnt about the incredible life stories of a multitude of notable figures including Mary Seacole, Ignatius Sancho and David Pitt – the first black parliamentary candidate.
This was followed by a talk about black British art, presented by Megan Pudney. Megan drew our attention to important artworks by prominent black artists – whilst giving the audience the feeling of being in a physical art gallery. She drew our attention to a piece entitled Between the Two My Heart is Balanced (1991), by Tanzanian-born Lubiana Himid, an important figure in the emergence and development of black artists in the UK in the 1980s. Her work is of particular poignancy today, as it painfully depicts an image of migrants crossing an ocean. Himid is known for drawing attention to the impact of African migrants on the development of European culture, a trait that arguably reflects her own experience.
The third talk was called ‘The Sound Room’, hosted by Nadine Asiedu-Dankwa, and looked at the intersection between black music and British culture. Nadine regaled attendees with music from a wide range of genres, from Blues and Jazz to Garage and Grime, highlighting how black people have used a rich variety of musical forms to tell their story and shaped large swathes of British culture in the process. We listened to Winifred Atwell’s ‘Let’s Have Another Party’, Shirley Bassey’s ‘Diamonds are Forever’, The Equals’ ‘Baby Come Back’ and Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’. Hearing these tracks transported us away from our computers, and through a musical time warp, allowing us to fully appreciate the impact of the black community on the British music scene.
And I had the opportunity to host the final part of the session where I examined the politics of black hair and its prominence in both black history and culture. I highlighted how black women often face discrimination in the workplace for wearing their hair in natural styles – negatively impacting their career prospects across the board.
At NTT DATA we celebrate difference within our organisation, encouraging everyone to bring their whole authentic selves to work. This virtual event gave our employees the opportunity to learn about black history and culture, and to recognise the invaluable impact of the black community on their own lives. These events are crucial to our commitment to nurture a workplace where every person feels valued and where people want to be a part of our team – it is how we do diversity.
Black History should be apart of mainstream history - without it Britain could not be the country it is today.
As we plan the next Culture and Ethnicity Network events over the coming months, we will aim to include as many cultural angles as possible and ensure that we are constantly educating ourselves about Britain’s multi-ethnic and multicultural landscape.