This British Black History Month, Make These 4 Commitments to Support Black Employees Year Round

As director of people at Index and a diversity champion, I’ve been contemplating the importance of UK Black History Month to Black people and how positive impacts can stem from it. 

People from African and Caribbean backgrounds have been a fundamental part of British history for centuries. UK Black History month focuses on promoting and celebrating Black contributions to British society and fostering an understanding of Black history in general. 

This year’s official theme of ‘Actions not Words’ is a reminder that positive action must go beyond a single month–and should be embedded in our strategy, metrics, and activities throughout the year. This way we can build a more equitable work environment–and world–for everyone.

I’m honoured and proud that I work for a company where strides are made to ensure that all its employees, including members of the Black community, have a place to call their own and belong to something larger than themselves. Index has fostered a culture that focuses on well-being, one with consistent support from senior management that actively embraces core company values like “support each other.” This means that all employees, no matter their diverse backgrounds, feel seen, heard, and respected. 

If you, as an individual or organisation, are just beginning your journey to support your Black employees all year round, there are a variety of things you can do.  

1. Become a vocal ally

Don’t depend on your employees to guide and teach you–educate yourself and your business to embrace differences. 

2. Train your hiring managers

This training should focus in particular on the impact of things such as unconscious bias and how it can affect their hiring practices and the ways they interact with their Black employees. 

3. Listen to your employees and understand what can be roadblocks to their success 

Take steps to address those roadblocks in a way that has a positive impact. This may not be possible in one attempt, but small strides in the right direction can go a long way to ensure that your employees can bring their authentic selves to work. 

4. Build support systems

Introduce affinity groups and work with benefit providers to educate employees on how these plans can be adapted to their needs. Identifying services provided by Black therapists will go a long way in ensuring employees and their families have the support they need. 

When you acknowledge the Black community as a crucial part of your workplaces, taking the steps to embed that inclusion in company practices, you start to develop a real culture of empowerment. We must continue to provide services and support customised to specific employee experience to achieve this goal. 

Above all, always remember: Black history is British history. 

Simone Payne-Powell

Simone Payne-Powell

Director, people

Simone Payne - Powell is director, people and the diversity lead at Index Exchange. With over 20 years of experience working in various global tech companies, her focus has always been on ensuring that all employees can be their authentic selves and truly feel like they belong at work—her passion for DE&I has empowered companies to be able to do this. When she is not working, Simone loves to paint and has completed several commissions, as well as spending time with her neurodiverse son, Scott.

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