In 2015 Reading Buses Employee Director Mark Adams approached the company with an idea to celebrate Black History Month for the first time. Five years later he is proud that it is still being celebrated. Every week during October Reading Buses has been shining a light on a different Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employee with each sharing their experiences and culture.
“There is still much that needs to be done in society before BAME people really feel equality,” said Mark who joined Reading Buses from school as an apprentice in the body shop in 1986. “I am pleased that there have been a lot of changes for the good within the company on all equality strands and I shall continue to work with the company and staff members to ensure this great work continues.”
Mark was born in Wembley before moving to Reading. His father was born in St Vincent and grew up in Trinidad, whilst his mother was from Guyana. They both moved to the UK for the ‘promised opportunities’ from the British Government, said Mark, whose mother trained as a nurse whilst his father was a site foreman in construction.
“Being at the tender age of 16-17 years,” said Mark, “I was surprised about the open racist remarks that were banded around in those days. At the time there were three black people working in the engineering department – the remarks were never aimed at the older generation but were definitely aimed at myself. At times it did get to me, but I was not really sure how to handle it then as you had comedians like Jim Davidson openly saying the same things on TV.
“It seemed to be acceptable then to make reference to my heritage without consequence of how this made me feel. My father told me many times I would have to fight harder to get myself taken seriously and to make sure I was never judged on my colour. As time progressed and we reached the end of the 90’s views about gender and race and equality started to be pushed forwards in the company and society.
“Back then I always felt that this was a tick box exercise for the company and it is now taken more seriously. At that time, I was not actively involved in the union, but I could see changes were needed in the workplace. So in 2006 I became elected as a representative and a BAME rep in 2009. In 2014 I was elected as the nominated employee director for the board and with the information gained from these positions I began to communicate with the company, the board and the union to move the quality agenda forward.”