Black History Month UK

01 October 2022

To celebrate Black History Month UK, we spoke to members of the Barclays Black Professionals Resource Group about the work they do to support Black colleagues and communities. From supporting Black-owned businesses, to inspiring young Black girls, the work they do makes a difference and is worthy of year-round recognition. 

I am... championing Black creative culture

Since joining Barclays four years ago, I’ve dedicated my time to create and spotlight opportunities for Black colleagues of all grades. Sometimes, progression is more than having a good CV or mentor in your corner, it’s about getting a look-in on the opportunities in the first place – something I needed when first joining the business. Now, for every opportunity I receive, I push Black junior colleagues to share the ‘spotlight’ with me, making sure senior leaders know their name and capabilities before my own.

Through events, podcasts and colleague celebrations I work to create opportunities, raise awareness and push for change for all Black colleagues, including the ones we don’t often see or hear. My goal is to give colleagues, no matter their grade or where they’re based, the best opportunity to build their networks, confidence, and eventually their career – however they see fit.

Kesi Okechi, Employee Communications Manager

Kesi Okechi, Employee Comms Manager
Emmanuel Ojo, Graduate Analyst

I am... raising awareness of Black-owned fashion brands

I work with small Black businesses, specifically fashion brands, to create more awareness by pushing their work via my creative platform. Additionally, my church is quite Black youth focused, and I’ve had the opportunity to speak and push positive narratives on life within this space.

Emmanuel Ojo, Graduate Analyst

I am... leading by example for Black women in Tech

As Co-Chair of Women in Tech, I believe that representation is so important. Gender stereotypes and lack of role models affect girls’ interest in STEM from an early age. Yet, even when women get STEM degrees, many do not pursue STEM jobs. Gender discrimination and bias at work also discourage women from entering or remaining in STEM jobs and my vision is for someone to see a person like me crushing it and thinking ‘if she can do it, so can I’.

Tami Kuboye, Digital Programme Manager

Tami Kuboye, Digital Programme Manager
Hannah Awonuga, Head of Colleague Engagement

I am... changing the narrative for young Black women

I started at Barclays when I was 17 years old. People often ask me what challenges I faced throughout my career – I didn’t see women that looked like me. Now I’m developing in my career, I want to change that narrative for young Black girls.

I organise events in schools to showcase successful women from different industries, to share their stories and to represent successful women in the workplace. I recently spoke to a year 10 student that had attended a previous event with a female barrister. It had inspired her to follow a similar career path and that gives me a real sense of pride.

Hannah Awonuga, Head of DEI Colleague Engagement

I am... creating pathways for Black colleagues to reach their true potential

As someone within the leadership team of the Black Professionals Resource Group (BPRG), I have the ability and influence to help drive change and make Barclays an increasingly inclusive and attractive place to work, especially, for our Black colleagues where they can reach their true potential.

I’m building multiple talent development programmes through the BPRG to recognise colleagues and enhance their career progression opportunities. By showcasing departments actively seeking more diverse hires, I help create pathways for our talented but sometimes under-recognised colleagues for justifiable promotion.

Ayo Windapo, Senior Project Manager

Ayo Windapo, Senior Project Manager
Sharleighn Chang, Customer Care Leader

I am... removing the stigma around mental health within Black communities

I am based in Birmingham and lead on the citizenship charity pillar for the Black Professionals Resource Group. One of the key things I managed recently was for Black Minds Matter UK. Colleagues across the UK wore black T-shirts and helped collect donations. Black Minds Matter UK is a charity that connects Black individuals and families with free mental health services, making mental health more accessible and removing the stigma around mental health within the Black community. With Barclays matched funding, I raised over £1,000 which will go towards the important work they do. I will continue to help drive awareness to help support Black communities.

Sharleighn Chang, Customer Care Leader

I am... leaving things better for communities in need

I want to help people see their worth and show them what they can achieve. Through my role at Barclays, I want to help businesses grow and become successful, students to become more educated on managing their finances, and I want to help make banking safe for our vulnerbale customers, with a goal for everyone having a better lifestyle because of the impact Barclays has made.

I believe my purpose is to leave things and the people I work with in a better position than before they met me.

A recent example of this is a customer who came in to my branch who was recently out of prison and struggling to get a job. He felt he might as well just go back to crime and that his record and skin colour was holding him back. Through working with him on interview skills, he secured a job, and although it wasn’t the job he wanted, it provided an income for his family and the opportunity to start a career. We each have a real opportunity to make a big difference both to ourselves and the people we touch.

Vince Rose, Customer Care Leader

Vince Rose, Customer Care Leader
Nana Agyemang, Marketing Planner

I am... creating opportunities for Black business owners

I have had multiple roles in my eight years at Barclays and I have used that experience, and the extensive network I’ve built up, to help give local Black-owned businesses a platform to showcase their products and services.

Some of the most successful events I’ve been involved in recently are a suit-tailoring event in partnership with a local suit manufacturer, and a wine tasting/networking evening with a Tottenham-based wine company that brought together business owners from across London.

Nana Agyemang, Marketing Planner

I am... creating a platform for Black voices

As part of the Black Professionals Resource Group, I run the #KeepingItReal podcast series where we give our members space to talk about topics that matter most to them in a candid and open way. Not only have we created a channel for members to meet each other and share their experiences, we’ve also created a space where external guests who are doing amazing things for the Black community can come and share their experiences with our members in an open and honest conversation.

Topics so far have ranged from 'being the only one' in the workplace, food, wellness, lifestyle, code switching in a professional and personal environment, being new in the corporate world and experiences trying to connect with people that look like you across the business.

Nicole Amaning, Product Owner

An image of Yemi Akiolu overlaid with the word ‘gratitude’.