“…unfortunately the statistics are clear, there hasn’t been much change. We have actually gone backwards in ethnic minorities taking leadership roles within the UK. The data is there and it needs to be reversed”. Melanie Eusebe
Now in its eighth year, the BBBAwards is the only premium awards ceremony that recognises, celebrates and platforms black business excellence in the UK. Designed to transcend stereotypes, the BBBAwards highlights the financial contribution made by black professionals to the UK economy covering a range of creative, corporate and tech-based industries – we look forward to shining a light on this year’s talented individuals!
If you know an exceptional colleague, client, acquaintance or family member for the BBBAwards Judging Panel to review, please nominate them using the below button. We encourage and accept self-nominations too. Nominations are free and simple to enter. Please share the link with your peers, family and friends. Melanie is is the co-founder of the BBBAwards, an entrepreneur, a board trustee and a business strategist with over 20 years’ experience as a management consultant. In her role as Director, Strategy and Consulting at Accenture, she focuses on growth and engagement strategies for some of the world’s biggest brands and largest organisations. A committed teacher, Melanie is a professor in the field of leadership and management at leading business school and also has her own on-line business school. ALT caught up with her as they announce the BBBAwards nominations are now open for 2021.
When you set up the BBBAwards in 2014 what was your vision?
I wanted to make the awards bigger than just one person, for it to be a community and collaborative effort because I knew we needed to bring a group of people together in order to make a real impact. It was about giving credibility and validity to the discussion of race at work.
Seeing the success, it has today, how does that make you feel, what would you say are the main achievements?
I am so proud of the Black British Business Awards; they are one of my proudest achievements. I am so fortunate to be a part of something that has grown into something that is so much bigger than myself and that can keep moving past myself. They are a combination of efforts from so many different people. Along the way we have met so many incredible individuals who have joined forces with us, lent us their platform and lent us their trust so we could create something bigger than all of us.
I remember what it was like to argue with people about having a Black awards programme, so when I look at all of these groups, initiatives, programmes, and businesses who are all clearly saying “Hey, this is about black!”, I do feel part of a bigger global movement and I will be eternally grateful for that.
How have you re-shaped your business model during Covid-19?
A great question! Essentially our team day to day is an events, education and advocacy company, so how do you adapt that to something that is 100% digital? We had to fast track plans that we already had, we always had a digital component to the awards, however we had to speed up the process to something that was now wholly and solely digital.
We decided very early on, before we knew how long the national lockdowns were going to last that we were not going to risk being a super spreader event. Evidence from the beginning was showing us the disproportionate impact on the Black and Asian community due to the pandemic. Did we want to be a super spreader event? No. As soon as we heard these statistics, we immediately decided to make the event virtual.
The limitations of not having a physical awards gave us the opportunity to expand our global outreach like never before, that meant that it wasn’t centred in a London location, in fact we had our largest attendance numbers on record with people attending virtually from all around the world.
What has Covid-19 taught you about your business?
Covid-19 taught me about shared experience. There was a point in the midst of the pandemic and after the murder of George Floyd I didn’t know what to say. I knew as the leader of a programme such as the BBBAwards people were looking to me to say something.
To put it in further context, my father had just passed away and I wasn’t able to see him due to travel restrictions. On top of that we were all isolated at home, we couldn’t see one another, family members of my friends were dying due to the virus and I couldn’t physically be there to console them. At that moment I had no idea what to say, I was broken myself.
But I came to the realisation that I didn’t have to have the answer. I did a session with a psychotherapist on my YouTube channel about how we navigate Black pain and trauma, as it seemed to be coming in waves. This was actually one of my most popular online sessions to date. It showed me that I didn’t need to have all the answers, but it did show me the power of community and the power of shared experience. We all went through so much last year and being able to share this loss and pain revealed how the strength of ally ship, community and the human spirit is always key.
How much do you think we are seeing a change in racial disparity in the workplace?
That’s any easy question, unfortunately the statistics are clear, there hasn’t been much change. We have actually gone backwards in ethnic minorities taking leadership roles within the UK. The data is there, and it needs to be reversed.
What advice do you give to SMEs during this time in terms of remaining relevant?
For SMEs, particularly black owned SMEs I would say to widen out your customer avatar. Of-course organisations should be identifying who is in a position to be buying their products, however, sometimes we solely rely on networking, community, and social media and quite frankly SME’s need to be more forensic with who can use their products.
For example, if you’re selling a hair product specifically for black women, you may be solving an issue for black women, but who else has that need? It doesn’t necessarily just have to be the target audience, by extending your customer avatar you will be reaching a wider audience. For example, if you look at Rhianna and Fenty you will see that she is definitely serving the needs of black women, but she is also serving the needs of all women.
Tell us about working for or with WOW?
It was absolutely incredible. My concept of Black women, Asian women, women of colour increased exponentially with the work that I have done with the Women of the World Festival.
I was able to operate at a community level but also operate with amazing global leaders, it changed me forever. It widened my vision whilst making me bigger and larger than life in terms of what i was thinking and reinforced everything i was doing at the time.
Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing speakers; Angela Davis, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. These are incredible women with global platforms and leaders of equality. To even touch the hem of their garments was a privilege.
What is your vision for the next 10 years?
My vision for the Black British Business Awards for the next ten years is that it continues to grow bigger and better than me. That they are ultimately based on a growing community of people that we have brought together. It has already grown into something I am so truly proud of and its achievements truly are limitless.
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