Nana Julia Gbadyu, Assistant Project Manager
27 October, 2020
Author: Pick Everard
What is your role and how long have you worked for Pick Everard?
I work as an Assistant Project Manager in our London office and I have worked with the firm for about 17 months now. My role involves supporting the Project Management team within a number of typical project management functions: including change management, co-ordination of design processes, dealing with pre construction site investigations, managing stakeholders engagements, assisting with overseeing the day to day of project progression and managing financial expenditure throughout any given RIBA Stages. I am also responsible for preparing and issuing project reports and supporting the facilitation of design workshops.
What are your experiences of Black History Month and why is it important to you?
I have seen Black History Month (BHM) celebrated in previous organisations I have worked in. Each business has been on its own diversity journey and across the industry there is a sense that employers are all at different stages in this area. I am delighted to know we have thought about BHM here at Pick Everard and I have been happy to participate in events and initiatives that marks it.
Black histories are a vital part of the UK’s story, reaching back many centuries. To achieve true integration across cultures, I think we need to see black history made more prominent in education, regular conversation around the topic should be encouraged and visible. I think it should be embedded into what we recognise as our heritage, a big part of our collective identity and without it being a seasonal affair celebrated once a year.
I think we need to celebrate excellence in people overall, to do so in a way that is aligned and in parity with others so there is no segregation. Within the workplace, everyone should be recognised and awarded for their hard work and contributions, regardless of their background or skin colour. I think Black History Month is important from the perspective of educating others around who we are, our contributions to society and what we have achieved. Most importantly, I think we all have an individual responsibility to learn this anyway and ensure the learning happens more frequently on diversity.
What practices could organisations implement to attract and retain full skill representation from BAME professionals?
Firstly, I think every strategy and policy needs to start with considering the role of middle management who are responsible for implementing and ensuring these policies are effective and ensued. This group needs to be trained and willing to adapt to change in order to make these initiatives plausible and achievable.
Unconscious bias training could be a good start amongst others, and I think this should be mandatory for management. Unconscious bias training focuses on breaking down the ingrained views and challenges stereotypes. People tend to categorise others in a certain way and this training can help us all think differently about that. In some organisations I have worked for, incentives have been given to encourage people to undertake such training.
It is also important to use a ‘similar to me’ strategy in recruitment. Interview panels should be diverse to tackle unconscious bias. We should be open to giving people opportunities even if their backgrounds and experiences differ from that of our own once they meet the competency and requirements for the role applied for, I believe this will help address under representation of BAME professionals.
Finally, I think it is important for organisations to encourage people to be themselves in their work environment once they are professional. Stereotypes can leave BAME professionals feeling like they have to adapt their natural way of communicating or their mannerisms to fit in, so they are not misinterpreted. True inclusion can only be achieved when the environment is right for everyone to be their true selves.