As part of Mizuho’s Black History Month celebrations, we spoke to Rosa Ellis, VP Information and Operational Security about her experiences, her role as co-chair of Mizuho EMEA’s Cultural Diversity Network and why Black History Month is important to her.
Growing up in Jamaica, Rosa moved to the UK 29 years ago to study at Birkbeck University of London. “I was very, very excited about the visit as it was my first time in Europe,” Rosa recalls. “I had an aunt living here who had come over during the Windrush era so I’d never met her. She actually lived in Lewisham and she accommodated me, and showed me the ropes of how to live in London.”
Recalling her early experience of London, Rosa looks back fondly, “London is a melting pot, so many different nationalities and you’re able to experience so many things without even leaving the country. It just shows you that people have come here and they’re making a change to the culture of Britain.”
“We get to recognise Black excellence and look back at the history of Black people that helped create and shape the history of modern Britain.”
VP Information and Operational Security
“…and that’s why the celebration of Black History Month is important to me” she continues. “We get to recognise Black excellence and look back at the history of Black people that helped create and shape the history of modern Britain.”
“I like to be able to see people that represent me”
Mizuho has long been a promoter of an inclusive and diverse culture, signing up to HM Treasury’s Women In Finance Charter, Race at Work Charter, and more recently, Mizuho EMEA President and CEO, Suneel Bakhshi became a member of the UK government's taskforce to boost socio-economic diversity at senior levels in the UK financial and professional services sectors.
“I like to be able to see people that represent me” says Rosa. “Junaid has been a great role model. I see him progressing in the front office and it shows not just me, but other colleagues that, oh - we can also get to that position one day.”
Although role models and peers are important, Rosa highlights that “some of my friends still look at company corporate pages to see if they can see people that look like them.” However, as society changes she adds “You can’t just look at that. You have to go for an interview, be yourself, and demonstrate that you are equipped for the role and ready for the challenge.”
She continues, “The world is changing; we live in a hyper connected world where you need globalised solutions and the ability to recognise that people from different parts of the world will have different perspectives, which can be harnessed to help solve problems in unexpected ways, using differing life experiences and unique cultural reference points. That is the importance of cultural diversity, not only at Mizuho, but throughout the world.”
My Black History Month
As part of her role as the co-chair of the Cultural Diversity Network, Rosa encourages a culture of recognition and respect to all cultures. “We not only celebrate Black History Month, we celebrate Lunar New Year, Japanese Golden Day – we celebrate everything! We acknowledge all cultures and religions.”
“I want to promote multi-cultural inclusion and celebrate the benefits of inclusion and diversity at Mizuho.”
VP Information and Operational Security
As part of this year’s Black History Month, Rosa and team have organised an evening of conversation and music at Mizuho. “We have a brilliant Black speaker, Ebony- Jewel Rainford-Brent. She was the first black woman to play for the England cricket team and we can’t wait to hear her story.”
“We also have the Ganda Boys, originally from Uganda and now based in London. They will be performing African songs and chants with sprinklings of English lyrics. We will also be serving Afro-Caribbean food for our attendees. I can’t wait.”
The themes of this year’s Black History Month is titled “Time for Change: Actions not Words”, and is based around the importance of allyship. Speaking about allyship, Rosa highlights its importance. “Allyship is needed for people to make a difference because a race that is already marginalised can’t make the change without buy-in from those who are themselves empowered. We need others to help make us all equal, to make us all one.” This goes right back to Rosa’s Jamaican heritage and the national motto of “Out of Many One People” based on the populations multicultural roots.
As a Jamaican-born Londoner working at a Japanese bank, Rosa reflects on her role as co-chair of the Cultural Diversity Network. “I want to promote multi-cultural inclusion and celebrate the benefits of inclusion and diversity at Mizuho. We strive to attract, harvest and nurture diverse talent through the invaluable support mechanisms that the network will organically develop.”
“Through promoting and embracing cultural diversity, the network will help to foster business growth by creating unique and powerful differentials between Mizuho and its competitors, leveraging the fact that it is already culturally rich as a Japanese bank in London.”