Black History Month is an annual opportunity to start conversations, tackle barriers to equality, and influence positive change. But, to make lasting impact, it’s important to see this month as a starting point rather than a one-off focus.

Lou Taylor, board member at Abri and director of BHM South CIC, talks about how housing providers can get the most out of this opportunity, and the sector’s role in equality, as we celebrate this October.

Let’s get everyone involved

Black History Month is a celebration of the vast, and truly rich, cultural heritage of the UK. It’s a global moment to get everyone involved, championing the history of black communities, and opening the hidden stories and shared experiences that unite us all. I

t’s also a chance to emphasise the importance of allyship, proactive activism, and the role of those in positions of influence to stand up and play their part in achieving equality of opportunity.

Be prepared to make mistakes, but learn from them

People and organisations are often held back through fear of getting something wrong. But often the only way to learn is through making a mistake and being corrected.

This is really true when it comes to equality, diversity, and inclusion. Black History Month is a great time to speak to the colleagues, customers, and communities we work with, to learn more about the language we use and challenge biases.

There will undoubtedly be uncomfortable conversations, but it’s only when those have been had that some kind of positive outcome will take place. With all these things in mind, it’s important to get our colleagues involved in the conversation.

Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to hold workshops, host informal coffee and chats, and setup internal committees and working groups.

Whatever it is, ensure representation from across the organisation and make space for conversations that can lead to a better understanding and awareness of issues surrounding race.

Consider holding sessions that prioritise hearing directly from black colleagues so that leaders can hear and be informed by their experiences first-hand.

Be present and aware in the community

As a sector we’re in a fortunate position: we have access to diverse communities, and we can make a real difference. We can use that position this Black History Month and beyond to get out into the communities where we work and hear from our customers about what they want to see from us when it comes to equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Whether it’s by utilising assets like cafes to host informal events, launching campaigns to improve inclusion, or diversifying customer panels, any small step can make a big difference.

Ultimately, if we use our collective platforms to elevate diverse voices and make a real commitment to achieving true equality and inclusion, it’s a great place to start.