Black History Month is a period of learning and celebration, with supporters sharing a common goal of building an inclusive future. As a society, we must strive towards inclusion for everyone, everywhere.
One industry that needs to work towards fostering a more diverse workforce is engineering. According to the Association For Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers UK (AFBE-UK), just nine percent of UK engineers are from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, despite almost a third of engineering university graduates being from BME backgrounds.
Earlier this year, as part of its parent company, Spirax-Sarco, international engineering company, Watson-Marlow announced a renewed commitment to inclusion called ‘Everyone is Included’. As part of its inclusion strategy, Watson-Marlow is committed to initiatives including Change the Race Ratio and Race at Work Charter.
Learning from each other and listening to colleagues’ unique experiences is embedded in Watson Marlow’s culture. For this year’s Black History Month, Watson-Marlow colleagues share their experiences from the industry.
Lee Moyo is HR Coordinator, Supply, at Watson-Marlow. Her work on Watson-Marlow’s HR policies, processes, and practices ensure that Everyone is Included.
“My identity is made up of two visible characteristics I have no control over – being a woman and being Black. Imagine having to work twice as hard in comparison to your counterparts. Imagine walking into rooms where no one looks like you and feeling the weight of representing an entire race. Imagine constantly overthinking your every move and word out of fear you may come across as ‘confrontational’ and ‘aggressive’, whilst your non-ethic minority colleagues can speak freely. Imagine putting all this effort in, drawing from every part of your being, just to have a seat in the room…not the table. And in the midst of all the above, can you even imagine it? Someone wants to touch your hair…
“This is the reality and truth, not just for me, but for many other Black people who deserve to have their stories listened to. We share our experiences in the hopes that it will make a difference. I continue to be resilient and ambitious, and I’m successful in so many ways. My achievements are in spite of the inequalities, microaggressions and discrimination I have faced. Being part of WMFTS, I have found a safe space to practice using my voice and championing real inclusivity. I’m surrounded by people who want to listen to me and value my contributions. And most importantly for me, I have people who support me and encourage me to create my own opportunities.
“I have some advice for those who want to be part of this journey in making a difference for the betterment of underrepresented and marginalised groups. Stop protecting people who do not live with inclusive values for the sake of the bottom line. Be curious and educate yourself. If your network isn’t diverse, then find different voices and listen. Practice empathy and be the voice for those who don’t have one.”
As Strategy Implementation Lead, Sade Mokuolu has been immersed in the coordination and execution of our Business unit Strategy of which the ‘Everyone is Included’ campaign forms part of our approach at Watson-Marlow.
“As a black woman coming from a low socioeconomic background, I have faced a number of challenges during my career. During my career which spans nearly 20 years, there have been certain times when either my opinions were discounted and not listened to or I was made to feel outside of the ‘status quo’ group. This is why this phrase’ Everyone is included’ resonates with me, as I understand only too well what it is like to be on the outside, looking in.
“I have always been able to overcome challenges by being determined and tenacious. Also, I was not afraid to move forward even when I did not know what the next step is. I have a photo in my house with a quote from Martin Luther King which says, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step.” This is something I try to remember. It’s important to understand the difference between when it is possible to change things incrementally with the help of allies and when sometimes things can’t be changed. A further insight would be go to where you are celebrated, your voice is heard and where you can make a positive impact.
“Inclusivity is important because it allows people space to be themselves, to bring forth their best ideas, encourages their passion and fosters team spirit. There are a number of studies by Deloitte, McKinsey and others highlighting that companies with an inclusive and diverse workforce tend to perform financially better than those without. Therefore, not only is there an increase in employee satisfaction and engagement as a result of being more diverse and inclusive but it is also beneficial to the bottom line.”