Entrepreneurs and industry leaders have joined forces with KPMG to inspire the next generation of black business leaders in Scotland, in honour of Black History Month.
The professional services firm has launched Make History, a campaign which aims to bring Scotland’s black heritage community together to share their knowledge and experiences, while motivating younger people to become future leaders.
The campaign was unveiled at an event at KPMG’s Aberdeen offices featuring a panel of experts including: Ollie Folayan, who heads up the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers in Scotland; local entrepreneur Pete Preston; and Darbie Onugha, a member of KPMG’s shadow board in Scotland.
The Make History launch comes at the conclusion of Black History Month, which was observed throughout October to recognise and celebrate the achievements of people of African origin throughout society.
Established in the US, where it is now known as African-American History month, the October celebration was first observed in the UK in 1987 and has since become an annual fixture.
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Folayan said: “The leadership of various companies, particularly multinationals, is starting to put a focus not just on gender diversity but also now on ethnic diversity, and it’s that sort of push from leadership that is beginning to make more and more companies realise that when you look at diversity, you’ve got to look at all forms because no group is completely homogenous.
“Because of that, I’ve started to see, especially in the last few years, greater corporate emphasis on ethnic diversity, and I think that’s driving more and more individual groups to come out of the woodwork and to start to work positively together.”
'We all have an opportunity to make history'
Lolu Olufemi, KPMG manager in global mobility services, who organised the Make History event, added: “When it comes to Black History Month, it’s really important to reflect on the past and think about the heroes that have gone before, but really what we wanted to do with this event was inspire a new generation of people to make history.
“No matter their age or stage of life, we’ve all got an opportunity to make history and make a positive impact on society.
“There’s a role that we in business can play in inspiring people from BAME [black Asian and minority ethnic] backgrounds to want to come into this workforce, so this is us trying to do something to offer that inspiration to people.”
Preston, a University of Aberdeen alumnus who moved to Scotland several years ago, has championed stronger inter-community links and greater celebration of the country’s diversity. He added: “I feel that all cultures really should feed off each other, in the sense that everybody learns, and with much learning comes much understanding.”