April 18, 2023
This year, the Valtech Radon team in Sweden organized a plethora of events and educational sessions during Black History Month, for all Valtechies to join and learn together.
Black History Month is observed during the month of February in many countries around the world. As Sweden is a predominately white country, this was an opportunity to both amplify and support our Black colleagues as well as engage allies in this journey of inclusion.
Rayan Shire, Valtech Radon’s Junior Social Media Specialist who led these efforts, sat down with us and shared why this was an important date in Valtech Radon’s calendar.
Valtech: So Rayan, tell us a little about yourself.
Rayan: Hi, I’m Rayan Shire. I was born in Sweden and grew up in the UK and Saudi Arabia. I moved back to Sweden two and a half years ago to study. I started an internship with Valtech Radon last year and was employed afterwards as a Junior Social Media Specialist. I enjoy writing but also being creative, and this role is a blend of everything; it's exciting having different things to do each week.
VT: And in February, what were you celebrating at Valtech Radon?
RS: Having grown up in diverse countries, seeing the lack of diversity in Sweden was entirely foreign to me. Black History Month is celebrated in the UK, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to educate, raise awareness, and support colleagues from diverse backgrounds right here in Sweden. Sweden is not very vocal when it comes to matters that don't directly concern the majority of Swedes, and I wanted to create a safe space for our office to ask questions and gain knowledge.
VT: How did you mark this important date in Sweden’s calendar?
RS: To celebrate our first Valtech Radon Black History Month, we organized three different events for people to attend. We started off with a panel discussion featuring:
Mona Ali, the first Diversity and Inclusion Editor of Vogue Scandinivia and founder of FIIRI Agency – an inclusive modelling agency for people of color,
Moe Elamin, DJ and founder of Black Is - a collective of creative people of colour in the music/dance industry and
Sidona Tesfai, Senior Digital Project Manager at the Swedish Institute.
The panel discussed experiences of being Black in Sweden in comparison with being Black elsewhere in the world.
We invited local artists for the second event, Viktoria Mattson, Ammie Darbo and Sonic Erection, to auction some of their art. This was a very successful event that made over 5,000kr, a portion of which we donated to the European Network Against Racism.
Throughout the month, to keep the momentum going, I shared posts in our internal Slack channel on different topics relating to Black History Month, such as the impact microaggressions can have and the benefits of diverse advertising, making sure to include statistics and ways to celebrate this month.
VT: What was the impact? Who attended these events?
RS: Anyone at the office who was able to attend, did. We had about 30 people at each event. It felt fulfilling to be able to talk about a topic that people tend to shy away from, and even more fulfilling to be able to take action and support local artists.
We also had a playlist curated by my sister, Danielle McMaster and myself, filled with Black artists, both local and global, that we played throughout the month.
With the data collected from our global engagement Peakon survey, we can see these topics are important for our people. We plan to organize more talks throughout the year focusing on diversity and inclusion.
The real impact here is that these events have made it more comfortable for everyone to be able to speak freely on any concerns and topics regarding diversity and inclusion, and I’m excited to see what Rebecca Klüger, our People & Culture Lead, comes up with for our workshops!