Black History Month 2021

How can we ensure Accountancy is an attractive and accessible career option for young black students?

There’s rarely a month that goes by where we’re not publishing useful articles and advice on how accountancy firms can help create a more diverse and inclusive sector. In fact we talked about it just last week.

But as we find ourselves in the middle of Black History month, this week we thought we’d consider whether the accounting sector is doing enough to attract youngsters of colour. And to do that we thought we’d take a step back in time.

So where does Black History start in the UK?

The very first record of a Black member of the British population goes back all the way to 1241 when the earliest known drawing of a black Briton is made in the Domesday Book.

History books shows the UK as being better able to make change than the USA when it comes to the terrible role of slavery in early racial integration history. In 1891 The Slavery Abolition Act becomes law in Britain.

Progress was extremely slow, but it did happen. In fact in 1913 John Archer becomes the first black mayor of London but it took generations of efforts to get a black representative into the Houses of Parliament (1987) and even longer for that same house to pass laws that it’s hard to believe today, ever needed discussing.

For instance, The Race Relations Amendment Act stating that all public services must actively promote racial equality wasn’t passed until 2001 and The Racial and Religious Hatred Act (which made it illegal to stir up hatred against someone because of their race or religion) wasn’t passed until 2006.

But now, in 2021 we’d like to think that the accountancy sector is making strides to becoming a place in which young black people are not just welcomed, but proactively encouraged to train into and join.

So how do we speed up the progression of Black History and open up more opportunities to BAME groups?

True diversity change needs to start right at the grass roots, that’s where the history books start to be written. And to make what happens in your firm tomorrow, part of the catalyst for change that the next generation learns about, we need to tackle how we attract people of colour to our sector.

Which means learning from and tackling the problem of how black children access the education and career opportunities that help them to see that being an accountant is an option that they are positively encouraged to pursue.

This topic is huge and worthy of a PHD not just a blog to honour and celebrate Black History Month, but as a leader in accountancy what small actions could you take today that will add up to help create the progress towards a truly anti-racist world of accountancy?

Here’s a few of our team’s ideas:

1. Consider the vision and understanding that young black people have of the field of accountancy. Do they know what it is? Do they know what qualities and skills they might show at a really young age could be perfectly compatible with a really exciting and rewarding career? Why not write a blog for that audience or volunteer to talk to under proviliged children in a school that you know has a representative group of black students. Take your diverse workforce with you so these youngsters can see people that look like them are enjoying success in accountancy.

2. Create online content that is written in a way that appeals to younger black generations and get it in front of them. Get your team on Tik Tok showing the day in the life of a successful black accountant.

3. Challenge barriers that you encounter along the way. If you offer to get involved at a careers fair at a school where the students are under-priviliged, work hard to see that through. Breaking down institutional barriers is a huge part of progress and how we really encounter history in the making. Allow the children you meet to come into your firm for work experience or just to observe meetings.

4. Feed your efforts at grass roots level into your recruitment strategy and processes. Actively recruit training opportunities and apprenticeships of graduate programmes in demographic areas that you know are currently under represented in accountancy. Working with a specialist recruiter like us will make that easier. We live and breathe diversity and our MD Garry Howling is passionate about making the accountancy sector a place where every talented young person feels welcomed and safe.

“Black History Month is a stark reminder that we’re STILL having to campaign to make every industry and sector accesible to talented young people of colour. This year instead of feeling frustrated that black accountants are under represented, we’re here to support our clients make meaningful change to lessen the gap by looking at the whole journey from being a young black child to a successful black accountant. This will always be a priority for my company.” 

If you’re ready to make meaningful change to the representation of black accountants and to play a part in writing future Black History, reach out today to work with the recruitment industry leaders when it comes to diversity and inclusion. We’re ready and waiting to take your call. 

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