To support Black History Month, Reading Buses is profiling a different BAME employee each week. Meet employee director Mark Adams

 
Employee director Mark Adams approached the company with an idea to celebrate Black History Month in 2015

 
It was in 2015 that Reading Buses employee director Mark Adams approached the company with an idea to celebrate Black History Month for the first time.

He’s proud that it’s still being celebrated five years’ later. Every week during October the council-owned bus company is 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 Adams, who was born in Wembley – “maybe that’s why I love football” – before moving to Reading.

His father was born in St Vincent and grew up in Trinidad, whilst his mother was from Guyana. They had both moved to the UK for the ‘promised opportunities’ from the British Government, said Adams, whose mother trained as a nurse whilst his father was a site foreman in the construction industry.

Adams joined council-owned Reading Buses fresh from school as an apprentice in the body shop in 1986.

“Being at the tender age of 16-17 years,” he said, “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.

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

“It seemed to be acceptable then to make reference to my heritage without consequence to 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 work place.

“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 equality agenda forward.

“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.”

To support Black History Month, Reading Buses is profiling a different BAME employee each week. Adams is the second employee to be featured in the company’s weekly bulletin. The first was finance director Laurence Jenkins.

 
This story appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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