Celebrating Black History Month: The Impact of Black British Pioneers on Diversity in the Workforce

JCW Group

By JCW Group

In the UK, October is a time to celebrate Black History Month, honouring the immense contributions of individuals of African and Caribbean descent. This celebration also serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As a recruitment company specialising in life sciences, financial services, and technology, we find it essential to spotlight how Black British pioneers have enriched these industries.

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords; they are essential elements for business success. A diverse workforce fosters innovation, adaptability, and profitability. Inclusion ensures that all employees, regardless of their background, feel valued and included, maximising the benefits of diversity.


Black British Pioneers in Life Sciences

Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu

Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu is a British nurse, educator, and Emeritus Professor of Nursing at the University of West London. She has made significant contributions to the understanding and treatment of sickle cell disease and thalassemia. Her work has been instrumental in improving healthcare services for minority ethnic communities in the UK.

NHS 75: Making an impact – Dame Elizabeth Anionwu | Nursing Times

Dr. Donald Palmer

Dr. Donald Palmer is an Associate Professor in Immunology at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London. His research has contributed to our understanding of how the immune system functions, particularly in relation to diseases that disproportionately affect Black communities.

Donald Palmer - The British Library

Black British Pioneers in Financial Services

Michael Prest

Michael Prest is the founder of Petrodel Resources, an oil trading firm. He is one of the few Black British individuals to have made a significant impact in the UK's financial services sector, breaking barriers and setting an example for future generations.

Again, Oil Tycoon, Michael Prest, Sings Another Song of Victory –  THISDAYLIVE

Piers Linney

Piers Linney is a British entrepreneur known for his appearance on the TV show Dragons' Den. He has been involved in various financial services ventures and is an advocate for diversity and inclusion within the sector.

Who is Dragons' Den's Piers Linney? - Startups.co.uk


Black British Pioneers in Technology

Anne-Marie Imafidon

Anne-Marie Imafidon is the co-founder of STEMettes, an organisation aimed at encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM. She was the youngest girl ever to pass A-level computing and was one of the youngest to be awarded a Master’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science by the University of Oxford.

Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon - Women of the Year

Dupsy Abiola

Dupsy Abiola is the founder of Intern Avenue, an online platform that connects employers with students and graduates. She has been a vocal advocate for diversity in tech and has been recognised for her efforts to improve employment opportunities for underrepresented groups.

Dupsy Abiola


The Role of Recruitment in Fostering Diversity

As a recruitment company, we are committed to fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We launched our Diversity Council to create a forum for people across the business to share ideas, experiences, and best practice on how JCW Group can lead the way as a diverse business in our sector.

Measuring the Success of Diversity Initiatives

The impact DE&I efforts can have in the workplace is significant. Research shows diverse companies consistently outperform their less diverse peers. Yet oftentimes business leaders feel their efforts aren’t effective, and companies struggle to accurately measure DE&I programs. Collecting data can help assess current efforts and inform future goals for DE&I programs.

Start by asking:

  • Representation - What percent of workers from diverse groups are employed at the company?
  • Retention - How long do workers remain at your company?
  • Promotion Rate - What percentage of women and minorities are promoted?
  • Recruitment - Is your company actively recruiting diverse employees?
  • Pay & Bene­fit - How do individuals from diverse groups earn ­financial and non-monetary rewards for their work?
  • Cultures  - Do members of diverse groups feel they belong?


Black History Month in the UK is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of Black British pioneers in various sectors. These individuals have not only made groundbreaking contributions to their respective fields but have also paved the way for greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As we celebrate their achievements, let's also commit to fostering diversity and inclusion year-round, enriching both our workplaces and society as a whole.