New Black Talent Awards aims to tackle employment discrimination

Award founded by veteran recruiter and agency founder Denise Myers.

You may ask why it’s necessary, but with Black people still being overlooked in the workplace, this year’s inaugural Black Talent Awards are timely and overdue!

Research shows that 41.6% per cent of young Black adults remain unemployed compared to just 12.4% of their white counterparts (ONS, Sept 2021).

To re-address this imbalance and shine a light on untapped talent, the inaugural Black Talent Awards champions individual professionals and their achievements, as well as employers and organisations.

Whether in their own business or via wider societal initiatives, employers must demonstrate tangible and accountable efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and enhance the prospects and success of marginalised talent.  

Nominations are open across specific sectors spanning STEM, creative, charity and telecommunications, alongside categories such as Rising Star, Diversity Ally and a Judges’ Choice Special Honorary Award.

The judging panel comprises a mixture of directors, culture, people officers and DE&I leaders from organisations including Sky, NatWest Group, Institute of Directors, Grant Thornton, Lloyds of London, EY, B: Music, and the University of Warwick.

The Black Talent Awards was established by a veteran recruiter and agency founder Denise Myers who a teacher once told to dream small and go “work in a factory.”

Myers is now the CEO and founder of the agency Evenfields and Evenfields Community – a grassroots organisation working with emerging Black talent that engenders prospects with a confident and resilient mindset. Evenfields empowers Black talent in planning and pursuing ambitious careers in what can often be an intimidating and inherently hostile process.

Commenting on the need for the Black Talent Awards, Myers said: “Society needs more relatable successful role models in the Black community to inspire all those at the grassroots that great achievement is possible; that glass ceilings can be smashed; that, despite the narratives that one should achieve ‘small’ and not dream big, that disadvantage can be turned into opportunity, provided that the right support is given.”

Myers can relate to the plight of Black prospects navigating their way into professional life, and the inherent setbacks inevitably faced – from application and job interview stage through to progression in employment – having experienced employment discrimination herself. Indeed, these very initial experiences inspired her to go into recruitment to orchestrate change from within the system.

“I felt very strongly that there needed to be a dedicated, concerted effort to change these dismal statistics; to understand the determining factors preventing people of colour from applying for jobs, upskilling and progressing to properly engineer an impactful solution, not just initiatives that yielded vanity metrics.

“With The Black Talent Awards, I aim to dispel misconceptions that Black talent in professional careers are few and far between. Indeed, their achievements and the very unique backstories that have led to success despite the challenges need recognition and celebration.”  

Many notable organisations, DEI allies, and specialists support the inaugural Black Talent Awards. Dominique Sidley, Global Trade Strategy Director, Merlin Entertainments, commented: “At Merlin, we welcome the world to our magical attractions and resorts every day, and we want to reflect that same multicultural mix inside our business too.

“Working in partnership with organisations like Evenfields enables us to develop a pipeline of opportunities, particularly for Black talent interested in a career within the location-based entertainment industry. Merlin Entertainments is therefore delighted to be one of the headline sponsors of the forthcoming Evenfields Black Talent Awards, an evening of celebration showcasing some of the amazing achievements of Black Talent.”

The Black Talent Awards will culminate in a black-tie ceremony held on 29 September 2022 at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham.

The Black Talent Awards judging panel

David Carrigan  Group Director of Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing, Sky
Anita Bhalla OBEChair | B: Music
David McQueenDirector | Q Squared
Mark Lomas Head of Culture, Lloyd’s of London
Sal Naseem Regional Director for London | Independent Office for Police Conduct
David McQueen Director | Q Squared
Marti Burgess Partner | Bevan Brittan
San JohalChief People Officer | EDF Renewables
Sharniya Ferdinand     Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant | NatWest Group
Dr Rob Berkeley MBEFounder & Managing Editor |
Inez BrownWest Midlands Regional Chair | Institute of Directors
Jenn BarnettDirector of People & Culture | Grant Thornton
Dr Heather Melville OBEPartner & Senior Managing Partner | Ridgeway
Zaheer Ahmad MBE Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | Consumer Healthcare, GSK
Dominique SidleyGlobal Trade Strategy Director | Merlin Entertainments
Imogen Denton  Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion | Birmingham City University
Grace HaynesHead of People & Culture | Coventry City Council
Duro OyeChief Executive | 20/20 Change
Bayo Adelaja CEO and Founder | Do It Now Now
Joanne ConwayHead of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, Strategy & Implementation | EY
Scarlett Allen-HortonFounder and Director | Harper Fox Search Partners
Rebecca ScottGlobal Talent Resources, Program Management | Jacobs
Amos Simbo Founder & Director | BPIC Network | Winway Services
Siji OnabanjoGrowth Officer | Cyber-Duck
Ritika WadhaCultural Intelligence Center | Director, UK Operations
Tiana HolgateStudent Liaison Office, Report & Support | University of Warwick
Shola West         Media Partnerships & Social Content Executive | OMD UK
Lakeiya RobinsonEntrepreneur and Digital Marketer | blow LTD
Adjei SunArtist, Poet & Community Activist
Dr Jasmine Momoh     Junior Doctor | NHS

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