INSIGHTS

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As Black History Month arrives this October, your business has a unique opportunity to engage in recognising and valuing the rich tapestry of cultures that form our shared human story. This year’s theme, “Saluting our Sisters”, serves as a potent reminder of the vital contributions Black women in particular have made, and continue to make, across myriad fields and eras.

Established in the United States in 1926, Black History Month began as a week-long celebration, spearheaded by historian Carter G. Woodson & has evolved into a month-long observance now celebrated annually in each October both in the US and here across the Pond.

The essence of the month is to spotlight the central roles and narratives of Black individuals in history, so without further ado, let’s share some of the most impressive Black women of our very own UK history:

  • Nicola Adams – Gold medal winner in Boxing in 2012 and 2019, Nicola has smashed down barrier upon barrier by helping to bring women’s boxing to the fore at the same time as continuing to advocate support for LGBTQ+ rights. And if that weren’t enough, she’s born and bred in Leeds, which – as we all know – is the best city in the world 🙂

  • Baroness Floella Benjamin (b. 1949) Trinidadian-born actress, author, and businesswoman. For many of my peer group, she’ll be forever best known and loved for her role in Play School, however Benjamin’s career in education and entertainment is extensive and she has grown into a prominent advocate for diversity in the media and has served as a member of the House of Lords since 2010.

  • Doreen Lawrence (b. 1952) After the tragic racially motivated murder of her son, Stephen Lawrence, in 1993, Doreen Lawrence became an anti-racism advocate and campaigner. She played a significant role in bringing about reforms in the British police service. She was awarded the OBE for services to community relations in 2003 and was made a life peer in 2013.

  • Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock (b. 1968) A space scientist and science educator, Aderin-Pocock has worked on numerous space projects and is a co-presenter of the long-running BBC program, “The Sky at Night.” She has been a passionate advocate for increasing diversity in the sciences.

  • Fanny Eaton (1835 – 1924). As a big lover of the Pre-raphaelite art moment myself, I’ve seen Eaton grace many a canvas as I was going about my studies. An influential muse of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, Eaton was a Jamaican born artist’s model and domestic worker, who sat for many paintings in the Royal Academy.

  • Joan Armatrading (1950-today) . West Indies born Armatrading, moved to Birmingham in her childhood and grew up to become a three time Grammy award nominee whose music influenced a generation, not to mention producing some of the catchiest tunes out there. #dropthepilot

  • Deborah Anne Dyer OBE (b.1967) aka Skin : In homage also to my own teenage music influences, the list wouldn’t be complete without inclusion of Skin, the lead singer of SkunkAnansie. Brixton born Skin was the first every Black music artist to headline Glastonbury and was awarded an OBE earlier this year for her services to the industry.

  • Olive Morris (1952-1979) A community leader and activist, Morris co-founded the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) and was an influential member of the British Black Panther Movement. She worked towards racial, gender, and social equality.

  • Diane Abbott (b. 1953) In 1987, Diane Abbott made history by becoming the first Black woman to be elected to the UK Parliament. She has been a Member of Parliament (MP) for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since then, advocating for various social issues.

This is just a taster of some of the many influential UK based women of colour the UK designed to encourage you to research further. Why not go further however and encourage your teams to celebrate their own icons and influences in order to honour Black women’s past and present contributions?

For more information about access and how this can help you become a more inclusive organisation, contact hello@thehrhub.co.uk

Image: Canva