Perspectives

Episode #24: What’s it like to be Black in Britain today?    

The Green Room by Deloitte podcast

How often do you think about race?

If you’re white, chances are – rarely. That’s because you’re unlikely to be the only person in a room who looks like you.

If you’re Black, race defines your experience from the day you are born. The street you grow up in. The school you attend. The friends you make. The jobs you go for. 

We might say we don’t see colour, but our skin marks every aspect of our lives. The recent Black Lives Matter protests shocked many into paying attention to the systemic racism endured by Black people for centuries. In the UK, we realised it was much closer to home than we wanted to believe. The same goes for our firm.

October is Black History Month – an annual celebration of the history, achievements and contributions of Black people in the UK. It’s a time to honour and celebrate Black Britishness. Black heroes. Black talent. Creativity. Drive. Passion. But it’s also a time to question and learn.

For this episode, two guests help us get under the skin of Black Britishness. They’re both senior professionals in their chosen fields. We talk about what it was like getting their first job. Their experience in the workplace. Did they ever think they were rejected because of their skin colour? Or they got the role because of their skin colour? What's been the proudest moment of their careers?

But they’re also just people. Who did they look up to as kids? When was the first time they experienced racism? Were they told they had to work twice as hard? Does it ever get tiring talking about race? Are they proud to be Black? And British?

Tune in to find out:

  • Why George mentioned his lockdown love handles
  • How seeing the first Black British role models on TV impacted Sandra
  • About the responsibility David feels being one of our few Black partners
  • Why Sandra and David are both optimistic about the future

If we can’t talk about things, how can we tackle and improve them? – Sandra Kerr

Speakers

David Wallis
Technology and Digital Risk Partner
Deloitte

David is a Technology and Digital Risk Partner in our Risk Advisory business. He leads our Financial services IT Specialist team focusing on providing stakeholders with assurance and confidence over their identification and management of technology and digital risks. David collaborates extensively with other Deloitte firms not only serving clients but as a sector and quality lead. David is the sponsoring partner for our UK Black network and Black Action Plan. He has roles mentoring and supporting individuals of all backgrounds both inside and outside Deloitte.

Sandra Kerr CBE
Race Director, Business in the Community

Sandra is the Race Director at Business in the Community. She works together with business leaders and government policy makers to influence action on race in the UK. The Race at Work survey in 2015 with 24,457 responses and in 2018 with 24,310 responses provided the evidence to establish the Race at Work Charter announced by the Prime Minister, which now has more than 400 employer signatories, including Deloitte. In 2019 Sandra was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours list for Services to Equality and Diversity. She published the Race at Work: Black Voices Report in August 2020.

Find out more

If you’re interested in any of the topics we talked about during this episode, you might find the links below useful.

Business

  • Black Action Plan – We’ve published our Black Action Plan, including five key commitments aligned to Deloitte’s global shared values of fostering inclusion and taking care of each other.
  • Business in the Community – Sandra Kerr, one of our guests on this episode, is behind the Race at Work: Black Voices report, which reviews how employers can benefit from ensuring inclusion and effective engagement of their Black talent. She also created a handy pocket guide to get conversations started.
  • Shake up your social - To help burst our social media bubbles, we asked our people to share the Black voices they’re listening to. We then worked with our Multicultural Network to pick our top 60 suggestions to add to your favourite feed. You can also follow our our Multicultural Network on Twitter @DeloitteUK_MCN and join the #BHM2020 conversation.
  • The Green Room episode #5: Will I ever feel good enough for my job? - Imposter syndrome was one of the topics this episode touched on – which we covered in an early episode. Have you ever questioned whether you’re good enough? Afraid people will find out you’re not capable? Felt like a fraud? You’re not alone.


Books and documentaries

  • Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge
    In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren't affected by it. She posted a blogpost and her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences – so she wrote a book.
  • BRIT(ish), by Afua Hirsh
    You're British. Your parents are British. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking where you're from? Brit(ish) is Afua Hirsch's personal and provocative exploration of how this came to be – and an urgent call for change.
  • Girl, woman, other, by Bernardine Evaristo
    This novel follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.
  • Black is the new Black, by Simon Frederick & BBC
    Exceptional figures from politics, business, sport, science and more share their insights into being black and British today, how they got where they are, and thoughts on what the future holds. Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4 available on BBC iplayer.
  • Will Britain ever have a black Prime Minister, by David Harewood & BBC
    British TV and movie star David Harewood investigates the obstacles facing black Britons in rising to positions of power and influence, and calculates the statistical chances of someone from his own background ever becoming prime minister.


Podcasts and music

  • About race podcast
    From the author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – a look at recent history that lead to the politics of today, featuring key voices from anti-racist activism.
  • George the Poet podcast
    London-born spoken word performer of Ugandan heritage. Has won critical acclaim as both a recording artist and a social commentator.
  • Black History is now
    A broad collection of playlists and artists on Spotify honouring Black British music.

The Green Room by Deloitte podcast

Visit The Green Room by Deloitte podcast library for the full collection of episodes.

 
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