As part of our Black History Month celebrations we are talking to role models from the UK BAME community in order to offer an insight into their lives as well as help advise candidates and employers on how best to represent and encourage equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Recruitment Resources Planner
“Life Is just so precious, you need to go out and grab as many opportunities as possible. Let go of that fear and just go out there and do things. Live life to the fullest.” Dionne
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey
I’ve got a long history! I am originally from North London, and I moved to Nottingham in the mid 80s. I’ve been in the Civil Service for 30 years, and I currently work in Customer Compliance Recruitment at HMRC. Over my career in the Civil Service I have worked in over 9 departments, and I've been promoted a few times along the way. When I left school I wanted to go into business and graduated with a business diploma. Then I wrote to a majority of the major organisations I heard back from HMRC. I then followed the formal process of applying.
Can you tell us about your work in the community?
The community is very important to me and has shaped the person I have become. I am heavily involved in helping and inciting engagement within the community and would describe myself as an active member. For instance, I am on the stop and search panel which works directly with the police, I have been doing this for years in Nottingham. I enjoy getting involved in the planning and organising of community events. In 2011 I helped organise the ‘Black Achievers’ awards with Merlita Bryan, who made history as the first black female Sheriff of Nottingham and Lord Mayor.
A lot of the time people contact me about the events they have, asking for some support or some contacts. I've been active in the community for many years so have been able to really develop some key contacts. One of the biggest events I was involved with was the Windrush Awards event in Nottingham.
Can you tell us a bit more about you?
I see myself as a professional woman of colour that tries to help and inspire people. HMRC is flexible and provides good work life balance for its employees. When I had my children, the department was very flexible. There’s also the opportunity to change and move around.
What historic and contemporary figures inspire you?
There are so many influential people over the years that have inspired me, Nelson Mandela, Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr, and the Obamas to name a few. One thing these individuals all have in common is that they made history by making a change. Also Doreen Lawrence, for her strength, her dignity and her endurance. She has really inspired me. All the people I have listed tried to make a way for people coming up, providing equal opportunities and rights for people – really making an impact and changing lives.
Have you experienced prejudice or bias throughout your career?
Yes I have, but within my overall career on the whole it has been pretty positive. HMRC is so diverse, when I look around see the diversity I’m impressed. It’s really representative of the general public. There are talent programmes aimed at BAME professionals; a few of my colleagues have been on the HMRC embrace programme and have developed the skills to help them excel and apply for promotions.
Where do you find your strength?
I just love life. I love going to events, I love networking and meeting new people and engaging with them. It makes it all worthwhile.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
I go to a lot of black focussed events throughout the year, but Black History Month is a month of more activities and I do a lot of those outside of work. This year I decided to make a change. I find that a lot of the BAME or black focussed events tend to be in London or Birmingham, so I decided to organise an event myself. I reached out to the relevant stakeholders within my organisation and developed a stall highlighting black history and showcased this stall at our Amenity Building in our HMRC Nottingham location. It gave other people a chance to understand and acknowledge our history and stories. People from all walks of life came to ask questions and look at the books and learn more about black history.
Can you tell us one of your goals?
My children are grown up and doing well. I think it is time to focus on me and my personal fulfilment. I feel like I am using my time usefully doing community projects and doing things I never really had time to do before, such as travelling. One of the new projects I have recently been involved in is ‘Double Edge’, I am supporting with the business planning and contact developing of with the hope is to present this at Parliament. I’ve also been getting involved in some new projects around mental health within the black community.
Life Is just so precious, you need to go out and grab as opportunities as possible. Let go of that fear and just go out there and do things. Live life to the fullest.