South Asian Heritage Month runs from 18th July to 17th August in the UK every year and was inaugurated by the first South Asian London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, in 2020. It seeks to raise the profile of South Asian heritage and history in the UK through education, arts, culture and commemoration, with the goal of helping people to better understand the diversity of present-day Britain and to improve social cohesion across the country.
Alpha’s Diversity and Inclusion programme aims to be employee-designed and this year our Ethnic and Cultural Diversity working group decided to pick the theme of ‘The Model Minority’ – partially inspired by The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla. Often, South Asians are perceived as ‘model minorities’ in the UK; viewed as hard-working and successful, but their recognition tends to be limited to academic and professional fields. Our aim over this month has been to widen exposure to South Asian role models and to celebrate the true diversity within South Asian cultures, by highlighting those that are excelling outside of the ‘good immigrant’ archetype. We also wanted to showcase the variety of cultures encompassed under the ‘South Asian’ umbrella both within the Alpha team and beyond.
“Celebrate, commemorate, educate” is the motto of South Asian Heritage month and we have used this, in addition to our own Alpha C.A.R.E (Communicate, Act, Respect, Educate) framework, to guide our marking of this important month. This month we have focused our efforts on the Communicate and Educate element of our CARE framework, working hard to proactively educate our colleagues on the many cultures of South Asia and giving opportunities for discussion to allow Alpha employees to speak about how the history of being South Asian in the UK has impacted them and their communities.
We hope that the success of engagement with this month’s activities across the firm will have longer term effects at Alpha for those of South Asian descent and for those who identify as race allies, encouraging employees to continually bring their full selves to work and share aspects of their race, culture and religions which affect their work lives. Overall, we want to create a workspace in which people feel confident to share what they need from Alpha to make our workplace more culturally sensitive and culturally aware.