Celebrating Black History Month: A conversation with Avanade leaders

  • Posted on February 1, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Celebrating Black History Month: A Conversation with Avanade Leaders

Now that we are in February, we are proud to ring in Black History Month here at Avanade. As members of the INSPIRE Black Employee Network, we work to pave the way for incoming generations to achieve greatness and inspire innovation in both their lives and in their respective careers in STEM. This approach pays off: Research shows that companies with diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation!

While Black History Month is widely celebrated in the U.S. during the month of February, its significance is still growing in Europe, where it occurs in October. With this in mind, INSPIRE saw a unique opportunity to hear from our leaders within and outside of the U.S. to gain an international perspective on recognizing Black history. I asked Courtnye Dunn (Senior Director, US Northeast, Customer Experience Practice Lead for Avanade X) and Rickardo Carrington (Senior Director, UK, Delivery Management) to share what Black History Month means to them. Read on to hear what they had to say and how you can take positive action in your life.

What does Black History Month mean to you, in your own life?

Courtnye: As Black history is American history, for me Black History Month is a focused time to deepen my understanding of the past, evaluate the present, and most importantly, to plan my impact for the future. The struggles, sacrifices, and successes of my forebearers have made my current life possible, and in honoring their legacies, I am committed to doing all that I can to unlock opportunities for future minority leaders to follow.

Rickardo: Black History Month is a time for me to do something deliberate. All too often we allow the trials of life to dictate our time and focus. So, to me Black History Month is a time to remember and reflect on the lives and achievements of our predecessors, and to be thankful for the opportunities my generation has been given. The start of my journey was not a place I would have liked to start compared to where we as Black people are today; my journey was tough but was made easier by so many Blacks before me. Therefore, remembrance and reflection are what Black History Month means to me.

How have you commemorated Black History Month in the past?

Courtnye: So often, our Black stories, beyond the constructs of slavery, are missing from history books and curriculum. Whether it be supporting a community event or listening to a podcast (I have The 1619 Project queued), I have always commemorated Black History Month by both learning and sharing knowledge of my ancestors, the change-makers and revolutionaries who have laid the path before us.

Rickardo:  I simply spend time with friends and family attending local Black History Month events and watch as well as read about icons and heroes of yesteryear.

What, or who, has served as your greatest inspiration in life? What motivates you?

Courtnye: There are many people and things that inspire me every day, but I draw my greatest inspiration from the gift of diversity. Communing with amazing humans of varying generations, ethnicities, backgrounds and beliefs supports my growth of knowledge and passion for creating impact for businesses, people and society.

Rickardo: I was and still am a huge sportsman and sports fan, so, growing up my inspirations to achieve greatness came from Pelé and Muhammad Ali. As I got older and looked to advance my academic career, I looked to prove doubters wrong by being academically successful!

What motivates me is to leave a legacy by helping and developing people one by one and hoping in return that they help others. On a superficial level, music inspires me both old and new. I was a devoted Motown fanatic when I was young and still play those tunes and reminisce.

What can other individuals do to celebrate and recognize Black History Month?

Courtnye: Black History Month is not only about celebration, but also a call to action to create change through education and action. Support Black-owned businesses and restaurants, seek out and share lesser-known stories of Black leaders, donate to causes that support anti-racism, equity and equality, and if you have not done so already, join INSPIRE!

Rickardo: Easy, read up on what others have done to help get Black people where they are now and then learn how you can ease the journey for Black people to have a fair and equal tomorrow.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

In addition to the powerful words from Courtnye and Rickardo, this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. resonates with me as a unique call to action. Pivotally, carrying this legacy forward starts with each and every one of us. We challenge you to take action this month: get involved with INSPIRE, reflect and dig into the rich Black histories of the past and connect with your community.

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