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Black History Month: Why I’m proud to be

Oct 07, 2021

This Black History Month, we’re speaking to black colleagues and senior management team allies about what Black History Month means to them, why it’s such an important holiday, and what we all can do to make our workplace a more equitable place, free of discrimination and full of appreciation.

Garreth Dorree, COO Integrated Ecommerce Solutions

In what ways do you feel companies could better support their Black employees?

Not just saying we are Diverse and Inclusive, but putting words into action. For example, more senior roles being hired from Black communities, so that more inexperienced colleagues are motivated and inspired to achieve. I would also look at education being more mandatory for all, and amplify stories from our Black colleagues about what they go through, which should be visible to everyone.

As a people manager, what can you do to promote and support black professionals?

Ensure HR recruitment always give you a diverse pool of candidates, which includes Black professionals. Mentor with confidence and meaning. Highlight to our Black colleagues that opportunities exist and that I will back them, whether in my own area of the business, or with referrals to other people managers, and help with interview prep.

Are there any black personalities that inspire you?

Michael Holding (West Indies cricketer, now commentator). An amazing individual who loves sport, but is never afraid to talk about his experiences and call out what racism is and how it affects people’s lives. He constantly makes me want to help others and pursue a more equal society.

 

Foutoum Ahamada, Manager, Underwriting

October is Black History Month in the UK: what significance does Black History Month have for you?  

I see myself as a culturally diverse individual. I was born in the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean and moved to Paris when I was six years old. I have lived in different countries, but the UK has been my home for the last 25 years. Black History Month is significant because it brings attention to Black people who are often marginalised and mis-represented. It is the chance for new generations from different backgrounds to learn about great Black achievements that are not covered in traditional history books.  

In what ways do you feel companies could better support their Black employees?  

I understand this is a difficult topic of conversation and quite uncomfortable for many, but the only way to address the issue is to have conversations in an honest and trustworthy way. To address and combat racism in the workplace, companies must have policies in place and provide effective equality and diversity training. They must implement mechanisms enabling employees to voice issues about inequalities and the need for change in a safe environment. They must have more transparent processes for promotions. Change is on the horizon, and we all have a part to play. To paraphrase MJ, if we want to make the workplace a better place, we should all look in the mirror, look at ourselves and make a change. 

Name one favourite thing about your Black heritage.

It would be very difficult to focus in one thing only. In general, what I love about my black heritage is our food, the music, our fashion, and traditional clothes but most importantly the way we are raised by our parents and grandparents to be proud of our identity. The number one priority for any black/brown parent is education. This is because education is the fundamental building block through which all other forms of social, economic, and political prosperity are derived. So, what my black heritage has taught me is the importance of knowledge as a vehicle for freedom and achieving greatness. 

 

Chris Smith, VP Finance, Corporate & Shared Services

October is Black History Month in the UK: What significance does this have for you?

It as an opportunity to celebrate the amazing contribution that black and ethnic minorities have made to society around the world. Just this morning there was a segment on breakfast TV about Sister Rosetta Tharpe – grandmother of rock and roll, an absolute icon, but without Black History Month I may have never heard her story which influenced artists including Elvis Presley and Eric Clapton.

I also think it is an important time to remember mistakes in our history from which we must learn to improve our today, and our children’s tomorrow.

The theme for Black History Month is ‘Proud To Be’: What do you plan to do to support the campaign?

We should all start by allowing ourselves to be proud of who we are and what we stand for. Then I look forward to sharing in the positivity that comes from hearing all the amazing stories and achievements that people share. I am proud to be an ally!

As a people manager, what can you do to promote and support black professionals?

I am privileged to work with an incredibly talented and diverse team. I think it is essential to have openness to allow us to share and talk about challenges and concerns in a safe space. I like to encourage my whole team to think about their careers, and work with them to create opportunities to grow and learn to fulfil their potential, with my role being mentor and chief cheerleader to champion them on their way

 

Sara Rita, VP Rapid Transfer

October is Black History Month in the UK: What significance does this have for you?

Black History Month is an opportunity for all to learn more about the effects of racism and how to challenge negative stereotypes. It is also a celebration and acknowledgment of the great achievements of black people in history.

The theme for Black History Month is ‘Proud To Be’: What do you plan to do to support the campaign?

First of all, I’ll keep educating myself on the topic, listening, and stay open. Also, I recently took a good look at my book collection and who I follow on social media and I realised it really isn’t diverse enough. I want to change this, and Black History Month offers plenty of sources and opportunities to branch out and challenge my everyday reading choices.

In what ways do you feel companies could better support their Black employees?

Create a safe space for Black employees to give their opinions on what’s working and what’s not working; collect focused feedback on the company’s D&I actions directly from the most relevant demographics so the results don’t get diluted by the perceptions of the majority; support groups like Black@Paysafe by giving them the right space and the importance; regularly train people managers and hiring managers about bias and inclusivity at work; diversify the Exco and SMT Teams. This list isn’t exhaustive, but I feel this would be a good start for any company. 

 

Nawar Mangalo, VP Operations, Canada & UK

October is Black History Month in the UK: What significance does this have for you? 

Every day it is worth celebrating Black History, not a month in a year. I see no colour, gender, religion or sexual orientation in any human being. I immigrated to Canada 30 years ago, grew up in an under-privileged area of Montreal where diversity of all sorts is just part of the fabric, and my “differences” were accepted. Proximity to the Black, Asian, Italian and Arabic communities served me well in being educated about why there is strength in diversity – I speak Arabic, was born in Syria of Armenian descent, married a beautiful Italian soul, my sister-in-law is Turkish, my adjacent neighbours today are from Algeria on one side and Cameroun on the other – this is life and I love it. Racism is real, we must all fight it and call it out. I have faced it, I have heard it, I despise it.  

The theme for Black History Month is ‘Proud To Be’: What do you plan to do to support the campaign?

I make it a point to attend and prioritize activities that our Black@Paysafe network plans. Being an ally and an active advocate for the efforts of this network, Families@Paysafe, and LGBTQ+@Paysafe makes me feel great and it is the least we can all do – engage to add our perspective, learn, and support.  

Are there any black personalities that inspire you?

I had the opportunity to visit the museum of Civil Rights in Atlanta last year, thanks to my leader Jeff Robison who is a diversity champion. The exhibit largely revolved around MLK and segregation and Black history in America. There were pictures across the two walls displaying fighters for freedom and equality over oppression, genocides, and ethnic cleansing. MLK took the first step on a journey that is ongoing.

I’d also add Maya Angelou, Cassius Clay, Ruben “Hurricane” Carter, Michael Jordan, Barack and Michelle Obama, Kendrick Lamar, Nelson Mandela, Sean Carter, Kamala Harris – I could go on and on.   

 

Lynette Mapp, Senior Legal Counsel, Regulatory & Governmental Affairs

October is Black History Month in the UK: what significance does Black History Month have for you? 

To me, Black History Month is a time to focus on continued work, which recognises and celebrates achievements from a group of people that look like me, my father, and my grandparents. It's a call to place a spotlight on the contributions of prolific figures and events that have been overlooked, so that we can all make an impact in changing the narrative of what we celebrate as history in modern society.

In what ways do you feel companies could better support their Black employees? 

Companies make a big difference to their Black employees when they can expose them to all levels of management and provide the visibility on key talent and skills to the workforce. At present, most of the black workforce is concentrated in the middle-low management levels and if a company is serious about diversity and inclusion, key indicators must be developed to monitor and identify areas of improvement.  The Change the Race Ratio has been developed for this exact reason, it assists firms in building indicators to bring about change.

This is the key to any employee progress and companies must adopt key indicators to identify talent as well as provide the right visibility to enable that talent to grow.

Name one favourite thing about your Black heritage.

I love the Black culture of ‘tenacity’. Despite the history, the ever-present barriers, the discrimination and its effects on the Black community, the Black culture has persisted and continues to strengthen the pathway to some of the world’s greatest artists, sportspeople, singers, poets, mathematicians and especially inventors. Despite it all, the Black heritage continues to say, “Still I rise” (Dr. Maya Angelou).

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