Jo talks about her passion for diversity and leading the Accenture African Caribbean Network
I think there are moments in all our lives that prove to be defining. I’ll never forget when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. For so many there was a feeling of unrestrained possibilities. In a way, it seemed unreal that when so much is out of reach for so many people, a black person could take the highest office in the world.
I’ve always wanted to be part of an environment where young black people can dare to dream that they can take their career to the level they’re capable of reaching. I genuinely believe I’ve found that environment at Accenture. Within UK Marketing and Communications in London, I’m a marketing manager in the Utilities practice covering Europe.
But my life at Accenture transcends my day-to-day role. The Accenture African Caribbean Network (AACN) aims to position the firm as an employer of choice for black people, enabling us to retain and grow talented people. It’s a great privilege for me to lead the AACN and help ensure that people from all backgrounds can thrive and be successful in the company.
I enjoy creating career and professional development opportunities for members. I’m often asked for career advice. If I can help, I will; if I can’t, there are plenty of people around me who I can call on for guidance – the AACN really is a community in which everyone supports each other. It’s a great feeling when I get a note from someone thanking me for the support or guidance I gave that helped them gain promotion. I believe that if one wins we all win. Steering the AACN is challenging but fulfilling. It’s taken me out of my comfort zone and I’ve met lots of people who I wouldn’t have worked with otherwise. I’ve honed my leadership qualities too – and that’s not even talking about our Accelerate Programme. Accelerate came out of one of the AACN’s closed-door sessions and is a leadership skills development programme specifically for members.
There’s so much we’re doing through the AACN. Our events are always inclusive and inspiring, and we’re launching a Reverse Mentoring Scheme whereby black Analysts will reverse mentor MDs across the company. We managed to attract Baroness Doreen Lawrence to our Black History Month celebrations. And, to top it all, we’ve won a European Diversity Award for the work we’ve done to engage and develop our community!