Black History Month Event Report: The Impact of Black Britons – An evening with Reggie Yates

In celebration of Black History Month (“BHM“), Hogan Lovells’ Multicultural Network, the 2019 Hogan Lovells BHM team and the NOTICED network organised an evening event with Royal Television Society award winning documentary maker Reggie Yates, as our main guest to speak about the Impact of Black Britons at Hogan Lovells’ offices. We were joined by an audience of around 180 network members, clients, colleagues and friends for a humorous and educational evening.

Thanks to Nicolle Odutoye (Associate, Reed Smith) and Amma Boakye (Associate, Hogan Lovells) for facilitating the conversation with Reggie, who spoke about his career to date and gave us a sneak preview of some of his current projects. As someone who has been in the public eye for decades, Reggie spoke honestly about the pressure of role modelling and how you don’t have a lot of control over how people see you and what their perception is. He has dealt with this by always seeking to elevate a positive perception, saying yes to sponsorship or projects which are in line with his values.

One of his most important messages was on the subject of authenticity and avoiding code switching. While there may be elements of ourselves that we tone down depending on the situation, we should remember that our uniqueness is our superpower. Reggie said that ‘you are you and there isn’t another you – so how do you make a career out of that?’. He emphasised the importance of doubling down on what makes you you, understanding your demons and running towards them anyway in order to get to know yourself fully.

Reggie was also keen to share his experiences on looking after his mental health. He is a keen advocate of the importance of self-care, explaining that everyone has trauma, but we can empower ourselves emotionally through self-awareness and therapy. Reggie said that ‘You can have dark times, but do you have a way of dealing with it?’. There was a real buzz of energy in the room as we wrapped up the Q&A and moved on to drinks and networking.

The event was particularly special for Hogan Lovells as they announced the launch of a new employee network focused on race and ethnicity, co-chaired by Counsel Liam Naidoo and Senior Business Development Manager, Abena Poku. Practice Group Leader and International Management Committee board member Michael Davison will also support the network as Executive Sponsor. Liam said of the new initiative, ‘this is a really exciting project for the firm to enable BAME people’s voices to be heard and to deepen our client relationships in a rapidly changing market. We’re really looking forward to having people from across the business get involved with the network.’

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