Meet Reg Amoah – this week’s Shine the Spotlight candidate! Read Reg’s career journey within Diversity & Inclusion where he has impacted many lives, hosted many events and overcome many challenges.
Can you briefly explain the journey of your career to date? / When I grew up I wanted to be…
My original career aspiration from school was to work for the UN. I liked the idea of solving global challenges and getting to travel, as growing up I rarely left London and had never been outside of the UK. To be honest I had no idea how I was supposed to get the UN so I did an international relations degree with a semester in the US, graduated and then got an admin role in the Foreign Office. I imagined I would start off as a diplomatic civil servant and work my way up from there to be Kofi Annan. However, when a senior colleague mimicked my East London accent in a derogatory manner, I came to the conclusion that I would have to change myself or change my ambitions… Unsurprisingly I don’t work at the UN and I’ve still got my accent! So, I switched career lanes and started working in various community development type roles for local authorities, housing associations and charities. Because of my own experiences and the limits that I saw for people around me, my new ambition was to try and help people overcome barriers to get on in life.
What made you choose to work in Diversity & Inclusion?
I was attracted to Diversity & Inclusion because I could see that it resonated with what I was trying to achieve, in removing barriers for underrepresented people. The inclusion aspect was also important to me as I was conscious it is one thing to get someone over a barrier but if the environment on the other side isn’t inclusive then diversity won’t thrive. The job I had before my current role was working for a charity where I organised career themed interventions between comprehensive schools like I attended and the corporate world. This was a good crossover role, which gave me access to D&I events in corporate environments. Ironically at these events I was often the only black guy in the room. Then when I started to look through the profiles of different D&I professionals on LinkedIn, I noticed similarly that there were very few profiles that reflected me or my experience. However, I felt that with my lived and professional experience I could make a positive contribution to the D&I space. I reasoned that I could bring proximity with aspects of diversity that people may not be familiar with such as disenfranchised men and the intersection of ethnicity and social exclusion. It did take me a while to get a role but I managed to make my case to a recruitment consultant who sent my CV to my current firm, I passed the two-stage interview process and here I am!
What projects or initiatives are you working on?
I am currently working on a range of D&I initiatives, of which the social mobility programmes are particularly close to my heart. The planning and delivery PRIME work experience programme, where 27 students from working class backgrounds have an opportunity to spend a week at the law firm, is a significant part of my role. I’m also working with colleagues who have expressed interest in supporting our social mobility agenda which may include setting up an additional employee network. One of the aspects I have taken an interest in and continue to raise is the lack of males on social mobility and work experience initiative in the wider sector. I don’t think it’s a major talking point yet but for me there is a link between the lack of social mobility for working class boys (of all ethnicities) and some of the tragic outcomes that we see for young men in poorer neighbourhoods.
What piece of work are you the most proud of?
To date I am most proud of my contribution in delivering the EMEA segment of our Global Inclusion Month campaign alongside Black History Month in the UK offices. The challenge was to ensure that the D&I team were able to support and promote the multiple events taking place. I was involved in organising our Race to Progress which became one of our high profile events which clients were invited to, and featured some inspirational speakers such as June Sarpong, Reggie Nelson, Quintin Price and Elizabeth Uviebinené. I also hosted a Black History Quiz night which was one of the highest number of attendees of all of the events and received amazing feedback from colleagues. Often when people feel they are a minority they may be tempted to suppress their uniqueness or not draw attention to their difference to demonstrate they can fit in. That is why I was proud to celebrate my identity and my heritage to show the value in bringing your authentic self to work.
Who has been the most influential person in your career and why?
I would say that my cousin June has been the most influential person in my career in terms of someone to speak to about navigating challenges. Although we worked in different sectors for most of our careers, she had experience of navigating challenges in the media that were not dissimilar to my own. However, her time in television had given her a platform to make a difference and when she decided to write a book, Diversify, on the topic of diversity to generate discussion she asked me to work on some of the chapters. I brought some insight from my own experiences but also gained wider experience from researching other diversity strands that the book covered. These experiences helped me to level up where my background perhaps did not mirror the traditional experience of D&I professionals.