Lived experienced before the film
After the George Floyd killing in May 2020, there were a lot of calls arranged by EY's Race and Ethnicity Network (REN) about diversity and I heard stories that weren't very nice. So, when I saw this advert (especially as I knew it meant I didn't need to speak on camera), I was interested in getting involved. I thought this project would be such an impactful way to bring the messafes from the calls to life.
In the Newcastle office, I'm the D&I champion and it's good to be part of the strategy of the organisation from a D&I perspective.
The video was a challenge to me - I'm in Audit so it's something completely different to my day to day activities and out of my comfort zone. It's still the best decision I've ever made and the best project I've ever worked on in my life and career. It was incredible to see the diverse group of people on the video all being from EY.
Making the film
As I'm based in EY Newcastle, I was very excited about going to London, filming a video, and I was excited about how it was going to be shown shown internally and externally. I was very inspired by the Directors’ vision and creativity. I was initially a bit uncertain about going on camera, but it was great meeting with other colleagues from EY knowing we were all in the same position.
The experience itself of a whole day shooting was physically exhausting but a lot of fun. It was interesting talking to the crew and finding out how they work. I remember when they shouted “cut – that’s a wrap”, the reality came back to me of why we are doing this. I got to reflect on why we were there. I remember thinking, “this is bigger than what I had originally thought”. This is for EY’s strategy. A global firm’s commitment to anti-racism. I had an overwhelming feeling that I’m really proud to be a part of change – part of a shift.
The impact of the film
When I watched the video and listened to the words for the first time, the images are so beautiful and the words are so powerful. It’s a proud moment that I’m right where I should be, doing what I’m supposed to be. I'm proud of the challenge I put on myself to do this video, particularly outside of my normal day job in Audit. This video and the message behind it is something that I’ve never seen another Big 4 firm do. We would be lying to ourselves if we were saying there was no racism in the UK and in these firms, so EY is bold and brave for saying that there’s a lot more to do, we’re not perfect, we’re on a journey. I think I've made a good decision to be part of a firm that has decided to be at the forefront of change and a disruptive leader for change.
I also remember getting the link to the video – I didn’t know I’d made the cover at the time. Someone said to me, “You’ve become you’re ancestors wildest dreams”, which was so moving.
I started sharing the film with my team and I was given amazing feedback on both my performance and the message behind the film. My counsellor and team loved it. I was the only EY colleague in the North of England who got involved in it and I received a performance award and recognition for it in my team!
Culture and belonging
For me, belonging is about intentionally being included. Always being conscious of the one person who maybe doesn’t speak up all the time, and being conscious of those who obviously have responsibilities outside of work. We’re all different, and we should be using that awareness essentially to bring us together. Belonging is about using differences as strengths and as benefits. It's more than just trying to fit in – it’s being comfortable and confident in the spaces that you’re in. I feel like I belong in my team, my office, and at EY – I have leveraged from the fact I have a smaller team which means I get to know everyone and they get to know me and it’s been working to my advantage. I love that people ask me if I’m okay and are looking out for my mental health. It's also about making sure everyone’s inputs are considered. We have a very collaborative approach in our team in Newcastle – it’s not always decisions being made from the top; things are considered at all levels for decisions and solutions.
More to do
Looking at it from my office in Newcastle, I can see that diversity and inclusion has progressed to some extent – I know for this year our apprenticeship programme has more diverse people - it’s got the most diversity since I’ve started.
I would say we should definitely be continuously aware of things like inclusive week, black history month, mental health week.
For me, EY could be getting even more people involved in D&I – it shouldn’t be a tick box exercise, but it should be something embedded into their performance LEAD feedback – it really encompasses the Better Me aspect of our transformational leadership model.