Why Hyde is celebrating Black History Month for the first time

Hyde is in the middle of its first ever participation in Black History Month. Grace Rodney-Powell explains why the housing association made this move, and what sort of activities it has organised

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Why Hyde is celebrating Black History Month for the first time – Grace Rodney-Powell from @HydeHousing explains #UKhousing

When we announced at Hyde that we’d be celebrating Black History Month for the very first time, staff were glad and excited. Some were even proud. But I don’t believe anyone was surprised.

“Staff across the organisation will be letting colleagues know what Black History Month means to them, sharing who our Black inspirations are and watching educational videos, such as ‘Reflections on 30+ years of BME Social Housing’”

We’ve been diving into our current diversity and inclusion offer over the past few months or so. This has been in the form of summer-long conversations, primarily due to the killing of George Floyd, the highlighting of police brutality against Black people (in the US especially) and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed around the world.

It opened the door for us to talk about diversity and inclusion, as well as systemic racism. These are sensitive and at times difficult topics to discuss, but necessary.


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The feedback from these conversations will help shape our new ‘people and culture’ strategy and has provided an opportunity for staff to let leadership know what matters to them, across all diversity and inclusion strands.

The importance of leadership support goes without saying – and I’m happy to say that we’ve got that in abundance at Hyde.

During this month, staff across the organisation will be letting colleagues know what Black History Month means to them, sharing who our Black inspirations are and watching educational videos, such as ‘Reflections on 30+ years of BME Social Housing’. Black staff will be sharing images of traditional dress, recipes and stories of their ancestry.

“Not only is it an opportunity for staff across the organisation to learn about, share and celebrate Black history, but a chance for colleagues to get to know each other a little better, too”

We’ll also be hearing from three very special and influential guest speakers, including Elsie Akinsanya, who is global head of HR, treasury and trade solutions at Citibank, Janet Hills, who is chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association, and Olu Olanrewaju, who is associate director at Altair International. We chose these people because they come from different business sectors and share a commonality – they’re all rightfully successful in their careers. They’ll provide insight and inspiration to staff Hyde-wide.

We are more than midway through October and it is heart-warming to see so many colleagues taking part, excited to know what’s happening next – and to hear their positive feedback. As with most Black History Month events this year, it’s an online celebration, so some of our most creative ideas will have to wait until next year – subject to COVID-19 and working arrangements – but it’s certainly a great platform to start on.

There’s no measurement needed when the month ends. This is about staff engagement, understanding and unity. Not only is it an opportunity for staff across the organisation to learn about, share and celebrate Black history, but a chance for colleagues to get to know each other a little better, too. Most importantly, it helps to amplify the voices of those who are not often heard.

We’re making organisational changes at Hyde, especially when it comes to our diversity and inclusion offering. So, as I mentioned, when we announced that we’d be celebrating Black History Month for the very first time at Hyde, I don’t believe anyone was surprised.

Grace Rodney-Powell, learning and development manager, Hyde Group

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