October is Black History Month in the UK & Ireland. Accounting Team Manager, Sharnna, tells us what Black History Month means to her and that representation is both meaningful and essential.
I remember when Black Panther first came out in cinemas. The atmosphere among the Black community was electric. Finally, a movie with a Black director and a majority Black cast that wasn’t just another tale about slavery, but a mainstream Marvel blockbuster! There was an overwhelming sense of pride and joy, it was truly ground-breaking for so many. That is the power of representation.
In the workplace and beyond, the impact of representation can be felt deeply. Having role models that look like you can change the course of your life: instilling confidence, inspiring others, and creating space for the underrepresented.
I joined Enterprise on their graduate programme as a Management Trainee in London after having completed my degree in Accounting at the University of Bedfordshire. I’d researched the company and the role, and it seemed like a great fit, but I wasn’t planning on staying very long. I would develop some strong interpersonal, analytical and business skills which I could take with me and use to strive elsewhere. However, 9 years later I find myself still here; learning, developing and growing every single day.
The beauty of Enterprise is that they hire from within, everyone around you has started where you started, there are no short cuts, you learn the business from the ground up. I’ve stayed at Enterprise for so long as they truly have it all, you are supported and encouraged to develop a successful career in whatever department you want. The fluidity of your career is a major advantage, whether you want to explore a career in Accounts, Revenue Management or Legal, the opportunities are endless.
After progressing on the Management Training Programme to Assistant Manager, I applied to move internally to pursue a career in Business Management as an Accounting Coordinator. Whilst in the Business Management Department I have worked in our South East England Regional Office and our North West England Regional Office. I was also fortunate enough to undertake a 6-month secondment working in our French Head Office in Paris. Currently I am an Accounting Manager in our European Corporate Office, based in Surrey.
The Enterprise culture has been a huge factor in my staying at Enterprise, we truly embody every single one of our founding values, which makes working here such a great experience. And most importantly the working environment is a massive influence for me, especially as a black woman. The importance of representation and inclusion within the workplace is such an important element and this is definitely something Enterprise continue to strive for and are committed to taking action to ensure that we create a diverse, inclusive & equitable workplace where people can be their authentic selves.
As the only Black female Accounting Manager in the UK & Ireland, I understand that many people of colour in the business look up to me. I remember a conversation with a fellow Black colleague where I talked about my career path, to which they replied: “Wow, so you could be the first Black female Financial Controller? That’s amazing!” Their face lit up.
It sent a message: if I could do it, they too could reach for their ambitions. This demonstrates the undeniable appetite we all have to see more of ourselves at the top. After all, they do say that you can’t be what you can’t see.
At that moment I knew I wanted to help as many Black employees as possible to feel empowered, to confidently reach for a promotion or a leadership role, and to realise that their success has no limits. That’s why I joined our Employee Resource Group – The Race, Religion and Equity (RRE) Committee, which aims to create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace for everyone.
Over the last year, we have launched many exciting initiatives such as a “You’re on Mute” podcast series covering topics like Black history; as well as the creation of a microaggressions toolkit for leadership, publishing employee spotlights, and working with organisations like Business in the Community to share best practices. It doesn’t stop there; we have lots planned next year as we focus on the theme ‘Amplify, Advocate, Champion!’
Using my platform to pave the way for fellow Black employees is my action this Black History Month, and every month after that.
The strength of our business depends on the value that each employee brings to the table. Join us, and help strengthen our business by diversity of perspective, opinion and voice.