Black History Month is an opportunity for all of us to focus on the riches and lessons our history has taught us. It helps us move forward a little more together each year, as one. The origin and roots of Black History Month came as a reaction to black individuals being generally left out of the history books, despite the many important positions, they played.
October is now remembered as the month in the U.K. to pay tribute to the achievements and sacrifices of generations of people who may otherwise have been forgotten since it was first celebrated in 1976.
Our culture has been enriched and our society has been made stronger because of the people who travelled here to build new lives in the UK, as well as the achievements and contributions of their descendants. It’s also a reminder to me that change is not inevitable, but is guided by the decisions we make as individuals.
This is one of the reasons why, for me, TAMS is special. Our mission and value are centred on the idea of empowering every person in society to achieve more. Diversity, recognition and inclusion, irrespective of race, gender and religion are core values of our culture and integral part in achieving that mission and at TAMS we believe that “Every single voice is important”.
At this juncture, I’m reminded of the great quote of Kofi Annan, my great inspiration and role model.
“Tolerance, intercultural dialogue and respect for diversity are more essential than ever in a world where people are becoming more and more closely interconnected”
Black History Month: An overview
The Black History Month is the annual celebration recognising the achievements and milestones of our people. Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. It honours all Black people from all periods of U.S. history, from the enslaved people first brought over from Africa to the U.S. in the early 17th century to the current day inspirational African-American people.
The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, while the first Black History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969.
In the United States the second week of February is recognised the Black History Month, while in the UK, Ireland and other EU countries, the Black History Month is celebrated in October, the first being celebrated in October 1987. On September 30, Four of Britain’s distinctive red post-boxes have been painted black and gold, decorated with images of illustrious Black Britons, in a novel way of celebrating Black History Month.
Black in Business: Rising against the odds of discrimination
Historically, black-owned companies and businesses were developed in direct response to racial discrimination. These segregation patterns then created market opportunities for black entrepreneurs to step in, make money and meet the demands of the black community.
With few work opportunities and high job instability, many black pioneers took matters into their own hands, building small enterprises that served and employed fellow black people.
The black community’s long history of entrepreneurship is marked by ebbs and flows. The rate of black business creation continued to rise and fall throughout the 20th and 21st century, increasing in the ’90s, dipping during the 2008 recession and rising again post-recession.
In recent years, the number of black-owned businesses has risen dramatically, with black women fuelling much of that growth. In 2003, Oprah Winfrey, arguably the most notable black female entrepreneur, became the first black American billionaire. And in just the last five years, four other African-Americans have reached the billionaire echelon.
The black people are known for their resilience and the collective ability to persevere against all odds. And to level, the playing field for entrepreneurs of colour, several corporations and wealthy black business leaders have created funds to invest in minority-owned companies. Real estate tycoon Don Peebles announced a $500 million fund for emerging minority and female developers in June 2019.
If history is any indication, black entrepreneurship will continue to grow and thrive in the coming years—an economic boon for the world and to the people of all colours and ethnicity.
Black Women: Queens in making
Around the world, the BLM (Black Lives Matter) protests against racism and discrimination, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, have shown we’re far from achieving equality. Black women face a multitude of injustices and intersecting inequalities, but they are also leaders and trailblazers in their countries and communities. To build a better, more equal world, gender equality movements cannot afford to leave anyone behind.
Throughout history and to this day, Black women from around the world have made extraordinary contributions to our societies, sometimes without any recognition.
A study conducted by Harvard Business School, on the 532 African-American women who graduated from 1977 to 2015, showed an astounding statistic. The HBS analysed the career paths of those women and the results showed that 67of them have attained the position of chair, CEO, and other high-level position in the business and corporate world.
The African-American women studied and interviewed by the HBS seemed to rely more heavily on the quality of emotional intelligence, resilience and agility because of the frequency with which they encountered obstacles and setbacks resulting from the intersecting dynamics of race, gender, and other identities. In each case, they bounced back, refused to get distracted or derailed, and maintained forward progress.
For these women, authenticity has also involved aligning their racial identity with their leadership positions. Some found roles within their companies that explicitly invited them to draw on that identity, giving them latitude to bring it front and centre. They were then able to parlay the visibility afforded by those roles into broader opportunities for leadership.
Why should you hire a black woman in your office? The Key benefits
Still, despite the paramount and humongous achievements the hot question lingers on the corporate and business minds “Why should I hire a black woman in my firm?”. Well, the answer is the never-die attitude of the black women and more reasonably the innate compassion and positive mindset that moulds them.
No energy can mimic what’s released when a positive, compassionate and high-stepping black woman entering the business firm. A positive attitude is a fuel needed to drive us from idea conception to realization. By reaching out to others, we grow as individuals. That’s the trait in black woman compassionate and it’s that heart makes a great influence and difference.
Some influential and compassionate black woman:
- Tarana Burke: The founder of the “Me Too” movement in 2006 and has spent decades supporting survivors of sexual violence, especially young women. The movement has helped to publicly expose the scale and impact of sexual violence and led a movement for change that centred women’s voices and experiences.
- Unity Dow: Unity Dow, a female high-court judge, ruled that the San people, considered one of the oldest cultures on earth, had the right to return to their ancestral lands after being relocated by the Government of Botswana.
- Vanessa Nakate: Vanessa Nakate, lead the Fridays For Future movement in Uganda and founded the Rise Up Movement, which works to amplify the voices of African activists. She promotes the voices and experiences of African women in calls for climate action.
The black people around the world are making significant improvements in the world we live in and progressing towards the top management roles and greater economic well-being. The influence is seeing a sharp rise. And yes, I can point out a lot of famous figures from the booker prize-winning Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe to the million-dollar mademoiselle Janice Bryant Howroyd, who had contributed significantly to the society and world, the inspiration level to high and so intensely felt.