What Black History Month means to our people
60 seconds with Keegan Gwendu
Who inspires our people?
October marks Black History Month in the UK and we are delighted to join in the celebrations, as our people come together to raise awareness of the importance of Black History and the contribution Black people have made to British culture, society and history.
The meaning of Black History Month for me has changed over time. Initially I viewed it as just a month for schools to teach as a part of their curriculum but as I have got older I see it as a month of recognition of people from an African heritage and their contributions in society beyond what is simply taught in a classroom. Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate and remember the lives of those who showcased excellence in their field and contributed towards the freedoms we have today.
Is it a great educational opportunity and a continual reminder for the next generation of the contributions made by black people to society as a whole. There is limited black history provided and taught in schools today, so Black History Month offers a great opportunity to be educated on and learn from past mistakes and accomplishments, as we strive for a more equal world
BHM is still relevant today as many of us (myself included) have grown up in an Anglo-centric view of history and therefore have not been able to appreciate the Black historical events or significant Black historical figures that have shaped our world today. Black History Month helps to us to learn and share black history and celebrate its importance. Black History Month also allows us to consider how our actions today can improve race relations in the future, as seen from the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement and Show Racism the Red Card charity.
For me, living in a more equal society is beneficial to everyone, and all organisations have a duty to work towards this goal. A diversity of experience and perspective is hugely advantageous to creativity and growth. For this to happen it’s important for everyone to feel comfortable to express themselves and be listened to. It has been seen throughout history that change doesn’t happen by itself; it takes a lot of work and conscious effort to challenge the status quo. That’s why it’s important to have a network working towards concrete objectives to improve diversity and representation within the firm.
Sadly, inequality remains pervasive in all facets of our world. While I recognise I cannot truly understand the impact that so many suffer from discrimination, I feel that we are in a position at Crowe to lead by example in our fight against inequality.
I am proud to be an ally of our REACH network.
As an ally, I understand the important role they play in our firm and wider society, providing support, amplifying voices and ensuring everyone is treated with equal fairness and respect. I am thrilled to know we have so many allies within our firm, who are working to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation for all our people, as well as the wider communities we work with, and advance equality of opportunity, tackle prejudice and promote understanding.
I believe that race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socio-demographic background, health, wellbeing and disability should not affect how people are treated. I will continue to lead our firm in the only way I can and that is with integrity and a passion to support our networks and our people, as we strive to create a truly inclusive organisation, celebrating the benefits that diverse teams brings us, as a firm, and as individuals.
What three traits define you?
If I had to limit myself to just three, my defining traits are:
How do you define success?
I have read several books around the topic of success in an effort to shape, mould and create my own meaning of the word. When I think about success, this quote comes to mind "Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true." Put simply, for me, success is deciding what you want from life and actively using the resources available to you to pursue that.
Tell me about your career with Crowe to date…
I joined Crowe's Risk Consulting team in 2018. Over the last three years, I have predominately been responsible for the delivery of Risk Management Framework, Cybersecurity and Operational Resilience projects.
Over the last eight months, I have been fortunate enough to be involved in the incredible work the REACH (Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage) network has been doing. Having joined as a champion, I have been actively involved in delivering key initiatives.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced over the past few months and how have you overcome this?
The fallout following England's loss at the Euro's was a sight that personally affected many minorities across the country. Just as we came together as a nation, the racism that ensued made me question if the candid conversations and awareness campaigns after George Floyd's death had any significant impact on the issue of racism in the UK.
As disturbing as this reality was, it just meant there was more work to be done. I increased my involvement within the REACH network. I found a meaningful way to engage with my colleagues in a capacity where people can feel free to ask questions on a sensitive topic generally and establish a level of understanding to form the basis of an inclusive work environment.
What is your personal philosophy?
Continuous growth and development are my core life values. "If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now.", and I try to live by this. I do not purport to be a genius, but if I can work at it, I will always try to find a way because by shying away from a challenge, you rob yourself of the opportunity to see what you are capable of. The aim is to be better than you were yesterday.
What’s your favourite thing about working for Crowe?
I am sure it has been said a hundred times, but it is the people for me. The best part of my job is working with intelligent, like-minded and driven individuals who also know how to have fun along the way.
This month marks Black History month – what does it mean to you?
It's a month where we celebrate the successes of influential black individuals who have contributed to world history and created an opportunity for the younger generation to take up space in their chosen field. Representation is vital, and Black History Month is an inspiring reminder that our history goes beyond slavery. To me, Black History Month is a missing piece that I hope will eventually be woven into the UK school curriculum.