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Black History Month: “Write your own success story”

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To mark Black History Month in the United Kingdom, Association for Project Management (APM), spoke with members and professionals from the black community to hear their thoughts and opinions on relevant issues within the project profession.

In this article, Yetunde Adeshile ChPP – a member of APM’s Board of Trustees and a borough councillor in Basildon, Essex – explains why celebrating past and current success stories is so important for inspiring future generations of project professionals.

Yetunde Adeshile, ChPP“I’m passionate about Black History Month. It’s one of the most powerful months we have in the UK. The month presents a great opportunity for organisations to show that they’re diverse, want to be diverse or that they have a strategy to close diversity gaps.

“We need ambition from both sides; from those creating strategies and from those doing the work to deliver them. Employers need to have that drive to increase diversity, but people from ethnic minority backgrounds need to take those opportunities. Sometimes, that’s just about having the encouragement to go for it.

“Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people, I feel, need more encouragement to get on their professional journey. Even when it comes to rising in the workplace, some people think they can’t progress any higher because of their BAME background.

“If you’re seeking to take your next step, don’t wait for people to ask you to advance. Go and grab it by training yourself, working hard and presenting yourself as a professional always. People who manage you won’t create your pathway. You have to create your own.

“Some people may feel kept down by their company, but opportunities for training and development are there. I know racism is out there in the world, but before attributing things to racism there has to be a good reason to do so. I’ve never felt that I haven’t got something I’ve asked for at work because of the colour of my skin. If you ask for something and it’s turned down, ask why?

“Overcoming those perceptions – especially when they’re engrained – is a challenge.

“It’s important to showcase successes from the BAME community because that will raise awareness of those stories and hopefully inspire others to reach those heights. It’s important for people to see people like themselves in places where they want to be. That shows diversity and opportunity.

“In Basildon, where I’m a borough councillor, we make a real effort to do that and we’re proud to be able to do so. Personally, when I became a Chartered Project Professional (ChPP), that story went all over social media. I’ve since noticed that a lot of people I know have started to go for chartership in their own fields. I’m sure there are other drivers, but seeing someone you know achieve a milestone like that is a powerful motivator.

“My message to the black community in the project profession is to use your story to inspire others to create their own story. It doesn’t matter what sector you’re in. It’s all about managing projects.

“And for employers, if you have a member of staff from a BAME background who’s a rising star, showcase their success. It will inspire others in your organisation to rise.

“The theme of Black History Month this year is ‘Proud to Be’. I’m proud to be a Chartered Project Professional and APM Board of Trustees member. I challenge BAME project professionals to reach the level of this profession they feel proud to be at.”

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  1. Peace Ubah
    Peace Ubah 08 October 2021, 11:04 AM

    I am not surprised, because she is absolutely excellent at whatever she does and sets her mind to and she is always helpful and supportive of others. No time for excuses. Her write up Is true to the core. Well done Sis, More grace 🤗👏

  2. Abbie Akinbohun
    Abbie Akinbohun 08 October 2021, 01:02 PM

    It was fantastic to talk to you last time.We had frank discussions but the commitment and passion for your job was unquestionable. You are one of the greatest assets Conservative have. #FirstLady. #BlackLivesMatter #BlackHistoryMonth 💙⭐

  3. Ruth Isibor
    Ruth Isibor 20 October 2021, 04:55 PM

    I agree with you! Racism is out there in the world, but individual perception matters greatly. I am constantly involved in mentoring and coaching of diverse colleagues. I find that compared to my white colleagues, black colleagues all have racism at the fore front of every reason they give for not applying for promotions or getting into senior roles. Before attributing things to racism, you need to have a valid reason for doing so – not just because of assumptions or because you heard someone else give the same reason. I am a fighter and always looking to progress but in my personal life and professionally. I know I have had to put in more efforts and prayers to get to where I am today especially because of some disadvantages owing to my background. Nonetheless, I have never felt that I have been disadvantaged because someone wanted a be consciously or unconsciously biased towards me owing to the colour of my skin. • If you applied for a job and didn’t get through, be honest with yourself about why you didn’t get through • If you ask your boss or colleague for assistance and it gets turned down, ask them why, rather than assuming • If someone tells you they were turned down by a firm owing to the colour of their skin, send in a complaint and request an investigation if you feel passionate enough about it I believe racism is a vague word that requires some further clarification