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Jacobs – Empowering Black talent at every level!

Category: Black Talent, Conscious Inclusion, Harambee network at Jacobs, Harambee, Courageous Conversations, Black Representation

Black Talent

 

Ronier Deumeni talks about how the Harambee network at Jacobs is having a positive effect on diversity and inclusion within the company and in the wider community.

 

Ronier, black male

"I have a very busy job with Jacobs – there are plenty of projects and targets to meet as an electrical engineer. On any given day, I could be inspecting assets, reviewing maintenance, advising and making expert recommendations, supervising progress of works and constant decision making, designing new infrastructures, providing mentoring to interns, apprentices and graduates, managing clients, contractors and stakeholders, or attending site visits and meetings. But it is still very important that I make time for the voluntary work I do as an ambassador with the Harambee network at Jacobs. It is a pivotal role for advancing equality.

Inclusivity and diversity are crucial to any successful organisation. We can achieve so much more when we are able to share the perspectives of different people. This is something I am passionate about. I am keen to not only have my own voice heard, but to ensure the voices of other Black people in the company are heard too. The Harambee network aims to support Black people to meet their potential by meeting professional and personal development goals.

Harambee is Swahili for “working together in unity” and I think that sums up what we do within the network. We are committed to recruiting and retaining Black talent and forming partnerships with other Jacobs networks and the wider communities where we work to empower people and make a real difference to people’s lives.  

Jacobs’ Global Action Plan for Advancing Justice and Equality is about achieving true equality for all of our employees – current and future – with a focus on ensuring Black employees can achieve their goals at Jacobs.

Our culture of belonging
I am delighted to have been involved in the Conscious Inclusion training at Jacobs, which aim to raise awareness among all colleagues about how to break down barriers that can hold people back based on factors such as race, gender and disability. Everyone needs to be empowered to speak up and speak out and this is happening from the very top. Our CEO, Steve Demetriou, has been instrumental in encouraging these conversations to happen around the globe, so everyone understands the challenges their colleagues are facing.

An important part of what Harambee does is hold what we call Courageous Conversations. Communication is so important to bring together different people and groups within an organisation and these conversations allow people to share their experiences in an open, honest environment. I am very fortunate not to have experienced discrimination, but many people have had negative experience and it is important that everyone at Jacobs understand the real challenges and barriers that can inhibit career development and progression.

 

Recruiting, retaining and advancing Black employees based on merit
Jacobs wants to increase representation of Black employees at all levels and actively seeks out Black applicants on merit, as well as working with schools and universities, funding scholarships, apprenticeships and internships, and offering work experience programs. There is still a lot of work to do, but we are getting there.

Sponsoring, mentoring and developing our Black talent is also key and where necessary, Harambee provides support to individuals so that they can see a real career path at Jacobs. Continuous professional development has got to be a priority for everyone.

We are aiming to have Black representation at every level of the company to reflect the demographics of the communities we serve. For young Black people, it is so important that they can see other Black people in leadership roles to see that they have opportunities to progress – you cannot be what you cannot see.

Ronier, black male

"I want to continue to do what I can to help people understand the challenges many Black people face"

Contributing to change in broader society
Jacobs has committed to donate $10M by 2025 in support of Black educational and professional development opportunities and the company also encourages employee participation via a global giving and volunteering program.

I am personally passionate about voluntary work also - as well as my voluntary work with Harambee, I have set up a charity called African Challenge Scotland. I live in Glasgow and I am very happy here, and I want the same for every person of African heritage in Scotland. The charity aims to build successful, integrated communities, relieve poverty, advance education and build cultural and sporting links. The building of bridges between African communities and wider Scottish communities is a reflection of the work Harambee does – diversity is a positive thing; it is good for everyone. 

I am humbled to have been recognised for my voluntary work over the past few years, receiving a number of internal Jacobs awards. I was also ranked #13 on the INvolve Empower Top 100 Future Leaders list for 2022, which recognises the leadership of people of colour who are breaking down barriers, and I recently received an award from the Royal Voluntary Service Team, which was presented by the Duchess of Cornwall at Buckingham Palace during the Jubilee weekend.

I want to continue to do what I can to help people understand the challenges many Black people face and keep breaking down those barriers – charities and the voluntary sector do so much for ethnic minorities in the UK and I am proud to be a part of this within Jacobs and in the wider community.”

 

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For further information on Jacobs’ Equity, Diversity and Inclusion programme and initiatives please click here.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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