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Founder's Letter: The Campaign That Forces You To Celebrate Black Women & Challenge Our Unconscious Biases

The Face Of The Modern British Workforce is supported by Google


No doubt you probably know what this newsletter is going to be about broadly. On Friday morning when I woke up just after 6:30, I felt overcome with panic (I woke up late) and excitement, as we were sharing a project that had been 18 months in the making: “The Face of the Modern British Workforce.”

This project features 56 black women from different professions and it is quite simply my proudest career achievement thus far. I said to a close friend that if BB had to end tomorrow, I would so proud. The collage of women is truly reflective of those who were behind the scenes on this project, which is so rare. Our photographer was a black woman, our MUAs: black women. Our graphic designer was a black woman, our motion graphics editor: a black woman. Our video editors for the long form videos you see on the site - you guessed it, black women.

Yet, while having black women behind and in front of the camera was a joy, what made this campaign so personally important to me, is that it forced me to reckon with my own biases and blind spots. I realised that when I think of a dentist, I often think of a white or South Asian men. Of course, I knew black women were dentists, but they were never the first people that came to mind when I thought of the profession.

This is what a dentist looks like

I had no idea what a Carbon Ratings Scientist was before this campaign. Neither did I know jobs such as Knowledge Managers, Cyber Underwriters, or a Corporate Affairs Managers even existed. While the main objective of this campaign is to celebrate the professional achievements of black women, it challenges stereotypes and who we associate with certain job roles. This campaign doesn’t just celebrate the vast variety of careers black women possess, it forces us to think wider and dream bigger when it comes to our career options and possibilities.

Even when we think of the publishing industry, we often think of black women as incredible authors or the black women that have managed to beat the odds to become editors within publishing houses. But how often have we thought about black women as book shop owners? The book shop owner featured in the campaign shows that it is possible to have a deep love of books and create a career outside the traditional publishing paths. She challenges what entrepreneurship looks like, because so often the stories of most female entrepreneurs revolve around women in tech, beauty and fashion. While celebrating those entrepreneurs is important, our book shop owner doesn’t just stock books by black authors, she puts them front and centre in her bookshop in Kent. Her story is one that may be overlooked, but is vital in showing black girls who love reading what the possibilities can be in terms of a career in publishing.

This is what a book shop owner looks like

This country has had campaigns that have centred the achievements of women and had black women dotted around to create a picture of inclusivity. We've had campaigns of black men that challenged how society saw the men in our lives. However, we have never had a campaign like this - one that first and foremost celebrates black women while simultaneously challenging the unconscious biases we all have. This launched on International Women’s Day, but this campaign doesn’t end there. I hope it becomes a campaign that inspires everyone to go after their dreams for generations and I hope that this campaign receives the credit it’s due and doesn’t get overlooked because black women are at the centre.

This campaign started with a conversation with another black woman at Google 18 months ago, but it has been 10 years in the making. On Saturday, we visited the billboard in Borough and as I turned around, a black woman had rolled down her car window and was taking pictures of the billboard. It gave me goosebumps and it perfectly illustrates why this campaign matters and why I have never been more proud of Black Ballad in the company’s 10 year journey. 

The Face Of The Modern British Workforce is supported by Google. You can learn more about careers at Google in the UK here.