FTI Consulting is working toward becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace, and ensuring our teams represent the many races, genders, lifestyles, ethnicities and cultures of the regions and communities where we live and work. The events of this year have shined a glaring light on the fact that there is much more work to be done. To help facilitate change, we’re engaging our teams in open conversations about tough topics. As part of that effort, we recently interviewed Aisha Brackett, a computer forensics consultant in the Technology segment’s London office, to learn more about her experiences as a Mixed Race woman with Black Heritage working in technology consulting.
Aisha, thanks for this interview. To start, can you share a bit about your heritage?
Thank you. I am Mixed Race. My mum was born in Malta and moved to the U.K. when she was a teenager. My dad was born in the U.K. after his father emigrated from Jamaica as part of the Windrush Movement. In addition to my family’s Maltese and Jamaican heritage, growing up in London meant I have always been surrounded by many different cultures and ethnicities. As diversity has been so present in my life, it is something I admire and encourage as often as possible.
What has your journey into a career in technology been like?
I always wanted to enter a career that challenged me and gave me opportunities to contribute in some way. I selected a university that was known for its diverse culture, and I learned a lot from the individuals I met along the way. In my final year, I still was not sure what I wanted my career path to be. Thankfully I had an amazing lecturer that motivated me to take a leap and go out of my comfort zone to pursue a career in Digital Forensics. Her encouragement has always stayed with me because she allowed me to look beyond what I thought possible for myself and I want to encourage others to do the same. Since entering the field of Digital Forensics, I have realized that the industry has a long way to go when it comes to diversity, in particular with the BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnicities) community. As there is always room for improvement, I have begun getting involved in different ways that I can make a difference when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
Last month was Black History Month in the U.K. Why do you think it’s important?
Black History Month is an opportunity to focus on the incredible contributions of people from Caribbean and African descent have provided to the U.K. and the world. It shines a light on the importance of our history, such as the Windrush Generation, which my grandfather is a part of. This raises continuous awareness for the hardships people face, whilst highlighting the collective efforts to encourage diversity and inclusion in our society. It has been uplifting to see demonstrations taking place in solidarity across the world; these conversations are important throughout the year, as well as during Black History Month.
It’s been inspiring to see the way that people have stood up for unity and to remind the world that we’ve come so far, but still have a long way to go. It is exciting that those around me are interested in learning more and becoming more understanding of the unique challenges faced by different ethnicities.
What is the impact you want to make on your colleagues, community and industry?
Although I have recognized different instances in my life that have presented challenges, I have chosen to focus on the positives so that I can bring that forward to those around me. I want to be an inspirational leader for younger generations and be part of the platform that helps people from diverse backgrounds know that they can pursue a career in Technology. By increasing awareness, we can be a part of the movement towards a more diverse culture within this industry.
In the workplace, what would you like to see happen in terms of supporting diversity, inclusion and belonging efforts?
I have a great personal example. I have a male colleague who has been a mentor and sounding board to help me progress in my career. We had a conversation recently about progression, where he encouraged me to focus on developing my technical skills as opposed to focusing on the title. Not long after, he listened in to one of FTI’s Women’s Initiative events, which detailed the statistics around why women don’t go for promotions as often as men. One of the primary reasons for this is that men are more likely to push for a promotion even if they aren’t ready for it, while women can often question their own readiness. After listening to this, my colleague called me right away and told me to scrap everything he said before and encouraged me to push forward for promotion. It was great to see him listen to the experiences of others and take it as an opportunity to re-evaluate his perspectives. This is what we need more people and leaders doing.
I would also love to see more conversations with people of different backgrounds—including senior leadership—spotlighted within their segments. These conversations are always relevant, and we need to keep them alive beyond a time like Black History Month or in response to a timely societal issue. It makes people more relatable.
The recruitment process can also be improved, especially in finding ways to encourage a more diverse pool of candidates to apply. This starts from early on when people are still at university. The sooner you can encourage individuals to pursue opportunities and take risks, the better. I am looking for ways within FTI to become more involved in these efforts and supporting programs that reach people in BAME communities to consider a career in technology and consulting.
What’s one thing about your diverse background that you’re particularly proud of?
Having a diverse background has blessed me with a large family. There are so many strong people in my family and my network who have supported me through my journey. It’s been their strength and support that have taught me to be compassionate and to reach beyond self-imposed limits. My family has come a long way and grown so much, and I’m proud of the accomplishments between all of us. I am one of the only people in my family to have achieved a master’s degree, which I am very proud of. It’s wonderful to be part of a family that believes people can achieve greatness no matter their background.
Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. In closing, can you talk about what makes you want to share your story?
During this year, I’ve done a lot of reflection in lockdown, and I’ve come to realize that I’m a person who can make a difference through positivity and support. I want to contribute in ways that can motivate those around me, promote self-confidence, and have a voice when it comes to these important topics. I’m honoured to have been included in FTI’s growth and diversity conversations, and I’m excited about how this will continue. I hope one day these types of conversations become less of a necessity and more of a celebration.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.