It's Black History Month here in the UK and my colleagues and I on REEB (Race & Ethnicity Equity Board) are experiencing our first BHM as a group. I'm not personally a fan of celebrating Black British history and culture only once a month. I say celebrate Black people every day of every month, we have 100% earned it.
When we all came together in June to form REEB and launch in July, it was a complete leap into the unknown. Would talking so openly and focusing solely on race and ethnicity be a step too far? Would the industry shun us? Would PRCA be as good as their promise to let us have free reign to help eradicate the racist policies and systems that blight the PR and comms industry? Would they diversify the PRCA Board and would they stand up and be counted as we face the (inevitable) hostility?
Well it's too soon to answer all of those questions however we are an active board with a relentless sense of urgency. We are absolutely here to smash the thick weighty almost impenetrable concrete ceiling (as opposed to glass) that hovers above the heads of Black and Brown PR and comms professionals blocking our every effort to move up and move on, like our white counterparts. We are starting with the pay gap.
When asked, industry leaders said reporting the ethnicity pay gap "is so complex" that many organisations gave up before they actually started. That's right, it's not easy. None of this is. But it's easier than having to hold your tongue, absorb microaggressions, and in some cases, crush your dreams in a effort to hold onto your job and enjoy some fleeting semblance of a career for years on end. We on REEB understand that nobody is going to enjoy the journey to a psychologically safe, racist-free environment that is fair and equitable across all ethnicities. But our industry will benefit from it both in reputation and commercially.
Further, the sustainability of our industry depends on racial equity far more that it currently cares to admit. We can't ignore it forever. So just as we kiss goodbye to BHM 2020, REEB will invite you to say hello to our first guide, on reporting the ethnicity pay gap. You'll have a week to read it after which we'll run a couple of Q&A sessions with our pay gap specialist where you can grill her about every word in the guide. After that, its over you to implement the guidance (or not) and be anti-racist (or not).
Let me end with this amazing quote from Ijeoma Oluo: "The beauty of anti-racism is that you don't have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it's the only way forward."
There's lot's more REEB news to come during this BHM. Until then...