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Black History Month 2021; The wins, the challenges, and what we can do better.

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October officially marks Black History Month in the UK, an opportunity to celebrate black talent past and present from different professions/walks of life. This years' theme is 'Proud to be', which was inspired from the 2020 Black Lives Matter campaign to encourage all black or brown people of the UK to share what they are Proud to be.

The UK tech industry at large still has a long way to go with only 3% representation from Black African and Caribbean backgrounds. Building for the future requires work and the CREW at Practice Labs is committed to doing better.

Today we hear from our inspiring black women in tech at Practice Labs on what 'Proud to be' means to them.

Rachel-blog-header-img

This to me after the last year and half we have all experienced from Black Lives Matter to black players missing the penalties at the Euros, to furlough and hybrid working, the one thing that remains certain to me is to live my truth because life is short and change is constant. I am proud to be a black African HR professional from the beautiful country of Zambia, home to one of the seven wonders of the world; the mighty Victoria Falls. I am proud to be working in a tech company that allows me to be me and not downplay who I am, not to fear to speak up or challenge the status quo if things are not right without the fear of being marginalised or fired. I am PROUD TO BE a HR professional at Practice Labs making a difference every day as we grow to the next level and help increase the 3% black tech representation in the UK. 
- Rachel, CREW and Culture Coordinator (HR)

Evette-blog-header-img

I am PROUD TO BE from an African Caribbean decent – from a small sunshine island that makes big waves; even after being colonized for over 300 years, it still emanates a rich culture and makes global contributions in many areas of life.

I was asked to write about the wins and challenges of being a black woman in tech (a double whammy). So, first win is that Practice Labs has given me my first opportunity to work in tech.

Secondly, I'm proud to be a mother, so another win for me is that I can pass on some of what I learn to my children. Not only my children but I'm also proud to be a governor for a local school where there are lots of children from ethnic and/or disadvantaged backgrounds, where I hope to make a difference. Though, when it comes to tech, I’m probably learning a lot more from the children.

Another win is being able to access the many learning opportunities from tech companies, endeavouring to skill-up those from diverse backgrounds. Over recent years I've been trying to keep myself up to date with technology, eg attending tech workshops, AI conferences, hackathons and developer meet ups - which meant chatting to developers and eating pizza!

From doing this I managed to get tickets to the Google Next conference at the Excel a couple of years ago. I clearly remember Google Cloud’s CEO's first words in her opening remarks - 'How many women are in the room? How many black people are in the room?'. Following the few raised hands, her response was 'We're going to change that'.

So yes, there are still challenges and I guess there will always be as some things, like mindsets, stereotypes, ideologies, complexes, and the likes can't easily be changed with policies and laws.

Of course, we have a way to go, but my parents' challenges, being part of the Windrush generation, were much harder than mine and their stories inspire me to make the most of the opportunities they never had. I hope I'm making them proud.
- Evette, Software Engineer Product owner

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