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UK Black History Month: why always me?

Natasha Gay

When I was asked to share my thoughts on Black History Month, I will admit I thought ‘why always me?’ Why is it that Black people are shouldered with the burden of championing Black history, when it should be everyone’s history?

You have probably seen a number of token references to UK Black History Month throughout October. As much as I agree there’s never been a more important time to celebrate Black people who are doing incredible things – celebrating Black history and culture shouldn’t be confined to just one month – and it should be something that is important to all people, not just Black people.

With many companies jumping on the band wagon to celebrate Black History Month, what is actually being done to create an inclusive environment where our differences are celebrated?

Our mission at Hotwire

At Hotwire, we recognise that we need to foster a workforce and client base that represents the wider population, bringing a diversity of thinking, experiences, and backgrounds to the table. It also means building meaningful relationships across our clients and teams, creating a culture where all of us feel we belong, are valued, and are supported to experience limitless success. When we took a step back and looked within, we knew we could do better. We needed to ensure diversity was truly embedded in our DNA.

We refreshed our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy last year to ensure we focused on diversifying our employee population from the top down, and aligning our services to our DEI vision and values. But words without action is not enough. We must continuously demonstrate the progress we’re making towards our goal of lasting change. The one question that kept coming to mind was “how can we make a lasting impact?” We didn’t want this to just be a one-off reaction, or an internal-only program; we want to spark lasting, systemic change in our industry as a whole.

So, we launched the Hotwire Ignite Possibility Program (HIPP) in February to direct more of our resources to organisations that align with our DEI goals. We have been providing pro bono services to impactful organisations for years but, through HIPP, we can now do more to advance social justice.

HIPP in the UK

When I joined Hotwire, through the acquisition of McDonald Butler Associates in April, I was excited to learn more about the DEI work. After conversations with many senior leaders including our CEO, Heather Kernahan, I knew I wanted to be a part of this programme.

I’m proud to have been appointed UK HIPP lead and excited to be driving forward this work in the UK. I have enjoyed getting to know our first participant, Husmus, and their founder Sarah Wernér. Husmus is an online service that aims to make renting easy and affordable in order to build a world where everyone can enjoy renting privately.

“The team and I have worked really hard to create a product that solves a big problem. However, we recognise while we have great technical experience, we do not have the marketing skills to make sure that we are able to reach the many people who need us,” says Sarah Wernér, Founder of Husmus. It’s our hope that working with Hotwire will give them access to expertise that they otherwise would not have at this early stage, enabling them to ignite lasting change in their industry too.

What can you do

I’m so excited to get started working with Husmus and we will be bringing on more participants to HIPP in the UK in due course. I hope you might be inspired by our work to do something similar in your organisation. But I want to leave you with something you could do right away as well.

Ask questions, learn more about Black history and how it is an integral part of British history. If you are a parent, ask your children if they are learning about Black history in school. In your company, ask your senior leaders what they know about Black history and what they are doing to encourage DEI in your organisation. If we all make one small change, we can create a ripple effect.