ACP YPN #BHMEU Reception on Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace with the UK Permanent Representation

On the 16th October 2019, the UK Permanent Representation to the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Young Professional Network (ACP YPN) organized a reception on Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace with a panel discussion. This #BHMEU panel was moderated by the UK Permanent Representation to the EU Political and Engagement Counsellor, Hannah Cockburn OBE with 4 main speakers:

  • Gemma Cairney– Founder of Boom Shakalaka Productions Ltd, 
  • Linda Nooitmeer  President of Ninsee (Institute of Slavery and its legacy in the Netherlands) 
  • Dr James Southern FCO Historian, Author of ‘Black Skin, Whitehall: Race and the Foreign Office, 1945-2018’ 
  • Adélaïde Hirwe – ACP YPN Program Manager. 

The issue of diversity and inclusion still continue to challenge us in society, working together as a first step in overcoming these obstacles and challenges related is fundamental. 

The four panelists presented what they believe to be the main barriers for Black people in organizations and industries. 

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Adelaide Hirwe on a more technical note, affirmed that according to European Network Against Racism (ENAR) data, people with foreign sounding names have 35 % less chances to be called for a job interview in the flemish side. She also added that even after employment, 20 % of Belgians prefer not have a foreign colleague let alone as a chef and one out of three foreign do not feel welcomed at the workplace. She emphasized on the purpose of the ACP YPN #BHMEU initiative which is creating a platform for discussion for People of African descent (PAD) on  their common experiences in institutions, politics, private sector employment” 

Gemma Cairney on the European identity 

“I’m glad we are having this painful discussion…One of the most amazing things of being european is that we are mix of so many things and that’s what I grew up to believe, I feel so much as an international person..the color of our skin should be celebrated and the mix and our reference points that we have to offer, whether that being on a political scale which is currently one of the most important thing to represent the European voice..” She adds on what media can do in this #blackhistorymonth EU and that is shake up things from the top!by letting some young kids create new media, by investing in them. 

James Southern points out how crucial it is to change mentality at the Civil service level, he says “Nationality and Britishness are very close linked…identity and security are closely linked in the mind of foreign officials…it has been a battle to turn this foreign office into a diverse”.

Linda Nooitmeer emphasized on the importance of action. She explains that instead of trying to change those at the top, we must focus on our situations and ourselves and take more action from our positions.

You can follow the discussion and contribute using the hashtag #ACPYouthTalk, #BHMEU, #BlackHistoryMonthEU

By IGIHOZO Emelyne

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