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BEAM: Shining brightly for a year

Jade Skeete
Written by

Last editedOct 20203 min read

This time last year, we launched BEAM – our employee resource group dedicated to increasing the opportunity of the Black, Ethnic and Asian Minority community within GoCardless.

BEAM, founded by myself, Sigi Joseph, Raquel Soares and Christina Asante, is built on three key pillars:

  • Celebration

  • Education

  • Awareness and data

Since launching in October 2019, BEAM has celebrated BAME culture, tackled uncomfortable conversations, started investigating data, and provided a supportive and safe environment for our black employees and allies to share their experiences or ask questions throughout the Black Lives Matter movement.

To reflect on the progress BEAM has made in just one year, we spoke to some of the leaders and volunteers.

2020 has been a year of change

This year wasn’t exactly as we planned. But we managed to maintain the momentum of the group’s activities despite the shift to remote working.

We had to rethink our 2020 plans due to Covid-19. Being remote, we have had to adapt how we work as an employee resource group. I’m extremely proud of what we have achieved and grateful for all the volunteers along the way.

This year we have started working more closely with our People team to better understand the data we can collect from across the business. The aim is to be able to more accurately and fairly measure diversity and inclusion in 2021. This will not only allow us to better measure racial diversity for BEAM, it will also benefit our other employee resource groups (Rainbow and Inspiring).

What we've done so far

Despite not being in the office, we continued to raise awareness and celebrate throughout the spring and summer months.

Starting the year We started the year with an inspiring session with Andy Ayim, creator and founder of Angel Investing School. Andy hosted a session on ‘How to validate yourself and your idea’ for the whole business.

Ramadan With Ramadan in May, we worked with our Muslim colleagues to devise ways in which to celebrate the holy month. Hassan, Customer Support Supervisor, wrote a blog answering the most common questions asked around the holy month. We also hosted a virtual cooking class for traditional sweet treats in preparation to celebrate Eid.

Black Lives Matter In June, our focus turned to the Black Lives Matter movement and the need for the world to take a stance against racism. Our CEO Hiroki Takeuchi shared a blog on our decision to not stay silent.

Building on this position internally, we shared resources to enable everyone to educate themselves, hosted a Netflix party, held an internal BLM mental health panel and raised an incredible £15,000 for charities supporting the BLM movement.

Pierre Binfoh, Account Executive, was one of our BLM panelists:

"I enjoyed taking part in the panel organised so that BEAM members could talk about their experiences. I think that the BEAM group has had a net positive impact on education and perception at GoCardless – and more people, across all areas and levels of the business are more aware of issues within BAME societies."

Notting Hill Carnival In August Heather Addo, People Ops Partner, led on our Carnival celebrations:

"Being remote, we hosted a series of virtual activities and we were really keen on bringing the vibrancy, fun and unity of Notting Hill Carnival to GoCardless."

With a virtual Caribbean cocktail-making class, a carnival-inspired dance fitness class and a quiz takeover, Heather and the team brought incredible energy to the week. Sigi Joseph, Talent Partner, also shared a short blog about the history of Notting Hill Carnival.

Jess Summerfield, Global Payment Partnerships, ANZ & International Lead, recently stepped into a volunteer role for BEAM having really enjoyed taking part in the virtual events:

"I like that we're consciously splitting our work into three strands – celebration, education, and awareness and data – so that we're offering a variety of events and information. It means that we're not biased towards just the celebration for example, without explaining why it's important."

Career Accelerator More recently we joined up with Career Accelerator to start a mentoring programme for 13-17 year olds. We were overwhelmed with the number of people who applied, and as we could only choose 10, we’re hopeful that we can continue with another cohort into 2021.

And that brings us full circle to October 2020, and Black History Month in the UK.

The history that made us

It’s never been more important to appreciate black lives and culture. So, throughout October we will be honouring #TheHistoryThatMadeUs by sharing blogs, articles, podcasts and lots of content with the whole GoCardless team.

We’ll be taking employees on a journey, starting back in the 17th century, right through to the present day.

Reading is only the beginning. Looking backwards helps us to look forwards and gain perspective. We hope people use this information to spark conversation and trigger deeper learning.

Follow @LifeAtGoCardless on Instagram to follow #TheHistoryThatMadeUs.

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