Black History Month: Aarti Raj

04 October, 2021


What is your role and how long have you worked for Pick Everard?

My role at Pick Everard is Director Cost Management. I have worked at PE for 7 years having had 21 years’ experience working in the construction industry.

What are your experiences of Black History Month and why is it important to you?

As a British Indian, up until recently, I never really thought about the importance of BHM as I did not think it had a direct impact on me being brought up in a westernised society with endless opportunities at my fingertips.

My parents were among the thousands of people granted British citizenship in the early 1970’s when the President of Uganda Idi Amin ordered expulsion of his country’s Asian minority. The Asian community has made a significant contribution in many walks of British life from politics to business to finance and I have been fortunate enough to see this around me. Because I saw people who looked like me succeeding by their sheer hard work, from a young age it has taught me that each and every one of us face challenges which can be overcome.

I grew up in an area of Leicester which was predominantly of ethnic minority with the majority of my primary and secondary school being from BAME backgrounds. My closest group of friends were of Black / Asian descent and I learnt a lot about them and their families which gave me a sense of familiarity as we shared the experience of having cultural differences in a British society. Because of this I never felt like an outsider.

As more countries now honour and commemorate black history taking steps to promote ethnic minorities within the wider communities, I am thankful that other BAME communities are now being recognised in the same way with no one race being more important than the other. Cultural events from all backgrounds are becoming ever more popular in local cities and are now increasing becoming important within the workplace.

BHM is important as this gives us a chance to reflect and acknowledge the many achievements of black and ethnic minority history and the people who have contributed. Being a woman from an ethnic minority background allowed me to have certain experiences which have influenced the decisions I make today

Black History Month 2021 is Proud To Be. Are you able to share with us any Proud to Be experiences?

I am proud to be British Indian

I am proud to have grown up in cultural Leicester

I am proud to have been given the opportunities I have had socially, professionally and personally

I am proud to be ME

Is there anyone from the past or present who inspires you, and why?

The list is endless but here are a few:-

  • My mum – She is humble, hardworking and selfless
  • Mr Corner Shop Man – I was always wanted to have a shop like him so I could have free chocolate
  • and magazines!
  • Tej Lavani – Dragon from ‘Dragons Den’ who has multiple health and wellbeing businesses
  • Tony Robbins – For his life lessons

What practices could organisations implement to attract and retain full skill representation from BAME professionals?

I believe BAME professionals should not be treated any different to anyone else because quite frankly they are capable of brining the same skillset to the table, however I do believe that we can more effort to give BAME communities more exposure to the opportunities that are possible to them.

What key take-aways do you have on Black History Month?

BHM has given me time to reflect on myself and the chance to recognise the steps that are being taken to move forward with inclusive exposure and opportunities. I am grateful for who I am and my upbringing.

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