Continuing our series of blogs for Black History Month, Adviza's Quality Manager Linda Gilleard, explains what it means to her and what she's learned from it. 

I don’t know what it’s like to be racially abused or marginalised, but as a member of the Adviza team I have seen the challenges ethnic minorities face. It is important to me that I learn from the experiences of ethnic minority colleagues and customers and relate that to how we can continue to grow as an organisation, always learning and always improving – both as an employer and a provider of services.

Learning the lessons

The older I get the more I like to learn, and some of the lessons aren’t easy. Adviza recently held a well-received forum where some of our staff discussed what Black History Month means for them. We viewed it as an opportunity to discuss some difficult realities and experiences and to recognise the achievements of ethnic minorities - not just the celebrated heroes, but ordinary people quietly making a success of their lives out of difficult circumstances.

In that regard, I’ve learned some interesting things this month: the resonance of the fact that Joanne Anderson, Liverpool’s first directly-elected black woman mayor, wears the same mayoral chain as the city’s first mayor, who was a slave-trader. And the story of Roy Hackett, a Jamaican immigrant whose stand against racial discrimination at the Bristol Omnibus Company was a pivotal moment in recent UK history.

One day in 1963 Roy Hackett saw a black man leaving the company in tears, having been refused an interview for a bus driver job on account of his skin colour. Mr Hackett marched in and demanded answers, and the man eventually got an interview and the job. His actions were the foundation for the Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963, a four-month campaign that led to the company overturning their general bar on hiring black or Asian bus crews. It is also seen as instrumental in the development of the UK’s 1965 Race Relations Act.

Shining a light...Keeping it lit

Within Adviza’s regions alone there are a wealth of quietly-heroic role models and stories to inspire people from ethnic minorities. We need to do all we can to celebrate and share them and to ensure we hear the communities that need us. That starts with listening and learning and Black History Month, for me, has been a reminder to do that. Knowing better is a first step to doing better. But it can’t and shouldn’t be something that we think about just for a month; it needs to be a state of mind, and I’m determined to do all I can to help us to continually listen, to continually be alert.

 

Read the other blogs in this series:

What Black History Month means to me: Jaskirat Mann 
What Black History Month means to me: Monique Smith