Celebrating UK Black History Month reminds me why I stepped into the leadership role for our affinity group, Index Black. When I joined Index two years ago, I was excited to hear we had this group within the organization. I recall joining a meeting with the other group leaders and quickly learning that I was the only Black American on the call—the other participants were in London. Their accents, phrases, slang, and terminology were different from mine. But, as the conversation progressed, I came to understand that our experiences were the same.
With knowledge, comes clarity. Cultural differences exist, but what resonates is the shared experience of being Black—and in that moment I truly understood that experience transcends geographical borders.
I am a steadfast believer in the phrase “representation matters.” Throughout my career, I’ve always been an active advocate of community, inclusivity, and unity in the workplace. Index’s focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the mission of Index Black, to recreate the powerful unity that we see in the real world and enhance inclusion across the organization, do just that.
It’s an honor to represent Index Black as well as the Index Exchange community. I sat down with Index Black members Simone Payne-Powell, director of people, and Kervan Gordon, senior partner development manager, to discuss representation, allyship, and some of the exciting work our group has ahead.
Stacey Lyons: Why did you join Index Black? What have you learned from participating in the group?
Simone Payne-Powell: As a senior leader within Index, I joined to ensure that the needs and interests of the community we represent, including group members, have the support and understanding to navigate their careers, as well as the happenings of everyday life. We have an amazing network of diverse and talented people within our community.
Kervan Gordon: It felt natural to find greater Black representation in the company when I first joined Index Exchange. At the time, it was an informal, safe space to speak to our counterparts in other countries. As time passed and connections grew, we formed a group to expand the reach even further.
A key takeaway for me is learning how geography and history created our numerous Black cultures. While we find lots of common ground, each has their own intriguing nuances. If anything, we’ve bonded as a group in our differences as much as in our collective Blackness.
SL: Why does representation matter to you?
KG: Representation matters to me because everybody deserves the freedom to feel safe, supported, and advocated for at all levels in a professional environment. Broadly speaking, representation—be it of race, gender, accessibility, or anything else—is a way to help remove glass ceilings and encourage the best talent to be even greater.
SPP: We can often struggle with our identities or believe in the negative perceptions that we’re shown about our communities. It’s important to show that we’re not bound by the stereotypes around us, but that we can break free of these assumptions and show how successful and impactful we can be. A lone voice can be a pathway to change, driving confidence and self-esteem of those who are looking for that beacon of hope.
SL: What are a few things we can do to be a better ally to the Black community?
SPP: It starts by wanting to try and improve things and taking the time to truly learn and understand. It’s about using your voice to amplify and support a cohort of people who don’t always get to be in the spaces and rooms that you’re in. It’s about mentorship and sponsorship to drive career goals and change.
KG: Practicing empathy and listening are key elements to being an ally. Supporting Black colleagues when you see them encounter bias or prejudice goes further than one can even imagine.
SL: What kind of programming has Index Black done this year, and what’s coming up for UK Black History Month?
KG: We’ve held several drop-in sessions where group members can informally catch up. These calls are fun, carefree, and where most of our cultural quirks come out to play. Regarding company-wide programming, we celebrated Black History Month in the US earlier this year, which had many events and touchpoints. The highlight for me were our group viewings of Masterclass segments, where we’d watch a video about a piece of US Black history and have an open discussion afterwards. It was in these instances where the Index Black allies really shined with thoughtful consideration and responses.
SPP: The Masterclass discussions were my favorite as well. The one that stood out to me was focused on Black Love—how the community supports and nurtures each other, how our allies have stepped forward at their own detriment to push forward change, and how we continue to grow and support each other. It left me feeling emotional and empowered.
In October, we’re celebrating Black History Month in the UK. The theme is “Saluting Our Sisters.” We’ll be looking at the trailblazers who took a stand to make things better for Black people through their drive, determination, and innovation. We’re really looking forward to it.
Learn more about our affinity groups and what it’s like to work at Index.Back to blog