Why Black History Month matters to us all – a blog from Julie Layton

Black History Month 2020

As October is Black History Month I hope everyone has had the opportunity to learn more about the month and have had some interesting discussions about the issues it raises at home, at work and in the community.

In June I received a question about the events in America and the Black Lives Matter campaign as well as what Advance was doing to improve equality and diversity in the workplace. I have summarised the key points of my response below.

There is no place for racism or discrimination of any kind in Advance. As an organisation we will not tolerate it. We are committed to recruiting the best staff whatever their ethnicity, race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation may be.

All newly appointed staff receive an induction, during which they will learn about our PRIDE values, our expectations of how they should treat our customers and our commitments in relation to how they will be treated as a member of staff.

We also provide our customers with a range of accessible information on how to deal with hate, mate crime and racism. Our Safety campaign in 2018 involved PCSOs from the community talking with our customers about how, together, we can tackle these issues.

We are proud of our record on diversity in our workforce. A quarter of our staff are from the BAME community and we believe the proportion is higher. We continue to provide a range of development opportunities, like the `Well-Led’ and `Lead to Succeed’ management course – completed by 96 members of staff from across all sections of the organisation. We subscribe to a number of programs which enable us to open up employment opportunities for everyone in the community through our apprentice scheme, Disability Confident Leader program, Investors in People and others.

While we are not a campaigning organisation, we do carefully choose and respectfully comment, on a range of issues that we see as injustices for the people we support. However, we often find that the words and sentiment are much more powerful coming from someone who has lived experience of a situation. For this reason we chose to highlight experiences from some of our staff over the course of the month. You can find these articles on our website news pages.