On the 13 August 2019, the co-founders of Black Professionals Network (BPN), Frank Arko-Tharkor and Poku Osei, launched the Black Professionals Network in Bristol and sought the views of the over 100 professionals in attendance about their needs, aspirations, and vision for BPN. The findings from this consultation was used to develop the vision and mission of Network organisation.
Questions has been raised about whether BPN is for only Blacks, the answer is simple, no. Although the name of the organisation is Black Professionals Network, the network is for all professionals from minority ethnic backgrounds. Our membership includes professionals of afro Caribbean decent, African decent, South Asian descent and so forth.
To be a black professional is often to be alone. As Adia Harvey Wingfield wrote in The Atlantic.com about Being black but not too black in the workplace, she said, most black doctors, lawyers, journalists, Engineers, Academics and so on—those in white-collar positions that require specialized training and credentialing—work in environments where they are in the racial minority.
This comes with challenges. Beyond outright discrimination, which many still face, there are psychological costs to being one of just a few black faces in a predominantly white environment.
In a study of black professional workers in a number of different occupations, we found that these employees worked to carefully manage their emotions in ways that reflected the racial landscapes they inhabited, this includes the difficulties in finding mentors of the same race, coping with racial stereotypes, being treated as a representative for one’s entire racial group1.
So, what does this mean for black workers in professional environment? How do we address the emotional toll of being a racial minority in a professional work setting? This is where The BPN comes in.
OUR VISION Is to empower all black professionals to advance in their careers and to reach their full potential.
WITH A SIMPLE MISSION to connect black professional with peers and opportunities to enable them to realise their career ambitions and to influence the labour market to ensure equal opportunities and representation for all black professionals.
Our activities fall under three key headings Influence, Connect and Enable (ICE).
Influence – We facilitate opportunities for members to influence labour market policies affecting black professionals.
Connect – We support our members to build their social capital through online and offline platforms. These include networking events, sector insight activities and leadership events.
Enable – We provide our members with access to professional development courses and progression opportunities needed to enhance their careers. These range from: knowledge seminars, CPD training and recruitment opportunities.
BPN will provide a platform for black professionals to initiate and nurture meaningful professional relationships.
The aim is that BPN will eventually act as an umbrella body for future and existing industry-focused black associations. To achieve this, we intend to take a collaborative approach with such associations to ensure alignment with BPN’s core vision to empower black professionals to reach their full potential. This will be a critical source of expanding our Network and attracting new members.
BPN seeks to maintain political neutrality and strive to minimise or eliminate the use of identity labels and jargons to ensure clarity in its communications (e.g BAME, BME etc).
The organisation takes a strength-based, as opposed to a deficit-based, approach in its overall message, challenging conventional thinking and theories about being black, promoting positive thinking and narrative about black people and actively advocate in breaking down barriers.
The first phase of our membership is to sign up on website or join our Facebook group, looking out for our unique brand logo. Towards the later part of 2021, we will develop a membership tier system to be rolled out in line with the strategic growth plan. Our membership base is expected to reach 10K by 2025.