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Recognising the importance of Black History Month

Lloyd Emeka - Senior Officer - Diversity & Inclusion

As part of our Black History Month activities, we spoke to our new Senior Officer for Diversity & Inclusion, Lloyd Emeka (pictured below). In this piece, Lloyd discusses the importance of Black History Month and what it means to him, as well as providing a bit of background as to what led him to his current line of work, and the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) both in a professional and personal context.

Lloyd Emeka - Senior Officer, Diversity & InclusionIt is now a month since I joined the RCVS as Senior Officer (Diversity & Inclusion) and, at the time of writing this article, and I have received a warm welcome from everyone that I have spoken to.  Thank you all for helping to make me feel settled within my role.

As you might be aware, we are currently celebrating Black History Month in the UK and this year’s theme is saluting our sisters.  I will discuss the theme in a bit more detail and what it means to me, but before reaching that point, I would like to share a brief overview of my journey as a Black British male and how this has developed through to the current chapter at the RCVS.

It would be remiss to not acknowledge my childhood years as this has helped to shape my views and how I have navigated through the world in adult life. I was born in Camden to parents of Nigerian and Sierra-Leonean origins and lived in the UK until the age of eight before moving to Nigeria.  Although it was a wrench to leave the UK, the eight years that I spent living in Nigeria proved to be an enriching experience. It was great to learn and appreciate a different culture and experience cultural diversity within the country which has 200 million+ people and 36 states, with each region having their own cuisine, clothing attire and language. 

Reacclimatising to life in the UK was a challenge to begin with (i.e., feeling like an outsider in a new secondary school, experiencing racial discrimination) but things improved with time. My university education felt like a fresh start in some ways, and I proceeded to complete a BA (Hons) in Business Administration and MSc in Marketing Management before embarking on my first career in the advertising industry. Working in the advertising industry was a fantastic experience but after a 13-year career, I decided to return to academia in 2016 where I studied psychology at postgraduate level. As I made headway with my studies, I started to appreciate the influence of our social milieu on how we think, feel and behave. Zooming in to the research literature to develop further understanding of social issues and zooming out to listen and observe how these social issues affect us in everyday life. Going through this process sparked an interest in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and has resulted in undertaking work within this field.

Whilst we do need to take a holistic approach, whereby inclusion is woven into the fabric of all components within an organisation, it is also important to remind ourselves that we are human beings first and foremost. 

My experiences as an EDI consultant (prior to joining the RCVS) has taught me that there are commonalities and divergences with the challenges that organisations encounter with regards to creating a more inclusive culture.  Whilst we do need to take a holistic approach, whereby inclusion is woven into the fabric of all components within an organisation, it is also important to remind ourselves that we are human beings first and foremost.  Practising the art of kindness, thoughtfulness and being caring towards each other can take us a long way towards creating a culture that we want to be a part of.

As I reflect on my role at the RCVS during these early stages, I can see some similarities with other health-care professions in terms of extant workforce challenges whilst also appreciating the nuances that exist within the veterinary profession. As we are all aware, there is significant work required to address the under-representation of vet surgeons and vet nurses from non-white ethnic backgrounds. Currently, we do not have a profession that is reflective of ethnic diversity within the UK, whereby 18.3% of the population identify as non-white.1

Focusing on addressing the barriers to creating inclusive cultures will in turn help to organically increase levels of diversity within the profession. Dismantling these barriers is an ongoing process, and we need to continually review where we are making improvements, what isn’t working and implement learnings effectively.

Having provided a brief overview of my journey thus far, I will return back to this year’s theme for Black History Month. It is important to salute our sisters and celebrate their achievements every day of the year. Historically, Black women have experienced racial discrimination and various inequalities within multiple spheres of life, and this is pervasive within modern society.  Evidence highlights that Black women in the UK are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than White women 2 and 75% of women of colour in the UK have experienced racism within the workplace.3 

Despite these ongoing challenges and adversities, Black women continue to persevere and thrive in various aspects of life. It is also important to recognise that not all Black women are thriving in life, and there is still a significant amount of work that needs to be undertaken to tackle systemic issues, remove barriers and challenge inappropriate behaviours within the workplace and society in general.  We all have a role to play in achieving this change.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” - Maya Angelou



  1. Ethnic group, England and Wales: Census 2021 (Office for National Statistics)
  2. MBRRACE-UK Perinatal Mortality Surveillance:  State of the Nation Report 2021
  3. The Fawcett Report (2022) - Broken Ladders: the myth of meritocracy for women of colour in the workplace

Published on 24 October 2023