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Celebrating Black History Month: A Spotlight on Our Director’s Journey

As we honour Black History Month in the United States, we are privileged to share the inspiring journey and insights of our Founder and Managing Director, Richard Manso. In this exclusive interview, he delves into the personal significance of Black History Month, revealing the driving force behind his entrepreneurial venture. He also explores how identity and heritage have influenced their commitment to diversity and inclusion within his business practices. Additionally, Richard shares his favorite black-led organizations and imparts invaluable advice for aspiring professionals within the black community. Join us in commemorating diversity, empowerment, and achievement as we delve into the compelling Richard’s story.

How does Black History Month personally resonate with you, and what significance does it hold in your life?

It’s very important to me for obvious reasons.  Even more so because of the journey I have had in terms of my career and where I am today. It’s really important to me because I feel there is still so much work to do so we have to remember our past so we can proactively influence the future.

What inspired you to start your own business, and how do your identity and heritage influence your entrepreneurial journey?

It was a conversation I had with my mother about the obligation I had to use my experience to show my daughter and hopefully other people what is possible. My career journey actually started within the corporate world but starting my own business forced me quickly to use the skills that I had instilled in me about working really hard, believing in myself and not judging people. A few years back I made the conscious decision to really try and drive diversity within our business and be a force for change in this area. In hindsight, I think my experience as a person of colour was a major driver for this decision.

How do you incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into your business practices and company culture?

Firstly, we look to promote this agenda through our hiring practices and looking for talent from all backgrounds, social groups, academic profiles and genders and not following the typical routes many employers do. We have also tried to be mindful of how we organise social events, coaching and training within the business. We also look to promote diversity through our core values which I think is the most important thing.

If I take my mother, she raised six children pretty much on her own and often had to go without to provide for us which I think is a pretty familiar story within our community. Her personal impact on her community really hit home when I visited a tiny village in Ghana where she was born which has a water irrigation system named in her honour due to her contribution to the build. It’s not like building the Empire State Building but it changed these people’s lives immeasurably! 

What are some Black-led organizations or initiatives that you admire and support, and why?

I look at companies like Dangote, Fubu Clothing, Def Jam, Uptown and Roc Nation which are black-led organisations that I have always admired.  Then you have people like Rosalind “Ros” Brewer, Thasunda Duckett t, Dr. Yvonne L. Greenstreet, Leslie D. Hale and Barbara Turner who are leading or have led Fortune 500 organisations. There are not as many as I would personally like to see but it at least it shows what is possible.

What advice would you give to young Black individuals aspiring to pursue their passions and overcome obstacles in their lives?

I think the first thing I would say is do not let your circumstances be your barrier. Believe you can achieve anything you want and don’t stop no matter what adversity you face! 

Can you share a lesson or piece of wisdom passed down through generations in your family that continues to inspire you?

Put the work in every day, and turn up. Be the CEO or your mind first! 

In what ways do you envision Black History Month evolving and shaping conversations about race, identity, and belonging in the future?

I think it can be just one custodian or advocate for increasing diversity in the workplace and giving everyone the opportunity to shine provided they are prepared to work hard to deliver what is required. I would like to see more talk about how people of colour can get on that success ladder and not just what’s possible. Lastly, I want to see more success stories! 

If you enjoyed reading Richard’s reflections, you might want to check out this blog too!