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How many black people are in the current cabinet?”

“Well there’s a whole series of people from a black and ethnic minority background” responded Health secretary Matt Hancock.

This interview took place on a national 24-hour news channel in June 2020.

It’s vital to note that government occupy some of the most influential roles withinin the UK, as with any country and they are a great snapshot for the challenge ahead in driving racial equality in industries across the country.

As an organisation we are committed to driving racial equality in Hospitality. If you’re reading this or have been on any of our social media accounts, you would have noticed that we have changed our name to Be Inclusive Hospitality across all platforms and moved away from our former name BAME in Hospitality (BIH). New Name, Same Aim!

Why?

As someone who was a part of the team that bought one of the most renowned global burger brands to the UK, I understand what a name and a brand means to a company. At the time of registering the organisation, I was aware of how the term BAME could be used by mainstream figures in a problematic way and utilised to group “non-white” communities. Initially I had felt that our organisation will treat each community with respect and as unique, this being illustrated with our Diwali and Black in Hospitality events in October and November 2020.

The turning point for me has been undergoing several data-driven projects that captures the experiences of the diverse communities within hospitality and recognising how disparate the journeys of the people from various Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are.

Furthermore, as a Black woman, I am deeply troubled at the acronym BAME being weaponised, resulting in the observed erasure of black people and the specific inequalities that black people face. This is fully illuminated by the Health secretary’s interview with Sophy Ridge as quoted above.

Ultimately by conflating the experiences faced by Asian, Black and minority ethnic communities, we complicate the ability to create specific remedies and initiatives that will solve the unique challenges faced by the communities we serve.

In another simple example of how BAME can be weaponised, closer to my hospitality background. A restaurant company we work with could have a Diversity and Inclusion target of ensuring that employees are representative of its diverse local community, and this number could represent 5 new hires from a BAME background. The 5 new hires could all be from one specific ethnic minority community considered as a BAME community. The box will be ticked, and success assumed, despite other prominent communities being left behind and remaining underrepresented going forward.

I recognise that with building the BIH brand so far, I am creating another challenge with a name change however the journey to racial equality will be filled with hurdles to jump and battles to win. Furthermore, I’m a firm believer in the adage “it’s never the wrong time to do the right thing”.

So why “Be Inclusive Hospitality”?

“Be Inclusive” is a rally cry, a call to action for the Hospitality industry and it also allows the organisation to still be “what it says on the tin” but in a way that does not keep the usage of an acronym that has been shown to hurt the underrepresented in an institutionalised way.

We have a lot of exciting partnerships and projects planned for 2021 – we will remain committed to driving racial equality, treating all communities with respect and creating social outcomes that help ethnic minority groups that are underrepresented.

We will work with companies to collaborate for a better future, make a change and be inclusive.

Lorraine Copes
Founder of Be Inclusive Hospitality