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Carrying on the conversation— Black History Month and beyond

Today marks the final day of Black History Month, a chance to celebrate the diverse talent, food, thought, and culture of our Black communities. This Black History Month, we met up with Fish Buying Manager, Christarose Maphosa, to hear all about her role at Tesco, her passion for food, what Black History Month means to her, and how she’s helped shape the Black Action Plan (BAP) here at Tesco.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Tesco?

I'm a buying manager for Fish and the Black Action Plan champion for Product. Two of my greatest passions are food and social responsibility. When I'm not buying fish, I'm a food judge for Great Taste and the Quality Food Awards and a student mentor. Since joining Tesco, I've been fortunate enough to help shape our culture and spark meaningful conversations across all levels of our business.

Can you tell us what a day in the life of a Tesco Fish Buying Manager looks like?

There is no such thing as a typical day in my role, which is something I love. I could be negotiating costs with suppliers one day, food judging the next or in a factory reviewing our products. My team and I are always working to get the best products on the shelves for our customers. My role is really varied which keeps it interesting and enables me to collaborate with and learn from plenty of colleagues through the business.

How did you end up in this role?

I've always been a huge seafood fan, before this role I was a Food Technologist in Fish. During that time, I gained an interested in how we source and trade the products and how the category can grow strategically. I was fortunate enough that my now line manager believed I had the skillset and love for fish necessary for the role, and was prepared to coach me where I had knowledge gaps.

Has food always been a passion for you?

I've always been obsessed with Food. I grew up in Zimbabwe and my family used to grow our own produce and rear our own chickens. I loved to try new things and taste how the produce varied from season to season, naturally I started cooking very early too. I then went on to study Food Science and Nutrition at university to solidify that obsession.

How do you think food can help us discover cultures outside of our own?

Food is really special because it allows us to connect with each other during special occasions. I think understanding the foods consumed by different cultures, particularly for special occasions, gives a wealth of insight into them. It's also one of few things that allows us all to communicate without barriers such as language and, for me, that makes it vital for learning about other cultures.

Why is Black History Month important to you, and what role do you think retailers like Tesco can play in it?

Black History Month is really important to me because it's an opportunity to celebrate a community with great diversity of food, culture and thought. It's also an opportunity to reflect on why we still need a Black History Month and how far we've got to go before we reach racial equity. Retailers like Tesco can play an important role in spotlighting their black colleagues, listening to their black customers and ensuring the conversations carry on beyond Black History Month.

You were one of the originators of Tesco's Black Action Plan - can you tell us how this came about?

Our Black Action Plan (BAP) came about as a result several roundtables with the Black British Network, where we realised there was more to be done for Black individuals both internally and externally. Leon Donald, Head of Buying/Supply Chain at Tesco Mobile, had the idea to create a distinct plan and have it be a multi-pillar approach. I was fortunate enough to be able to shape these pillars with him and the BAP team.

What is the Black Action Plan and how does it support our customers, colleagues and communities?

The BAP is a really disruptive and fast-paced D&I initiative which looks to address the issues faced by our Black colleagues and the communities we serve. It has four key pillars; community, talent, commercial and brand. We're confident that by taking a multipronged approach, including launching the right ranges and supporting black-led non-profit organisations, we'll be able to make tangible strides towards equity. The BAP is unique because it aims to create an ecosystem in which racial equity can thrive.

What are the short- and long-term goals of the BAP?

In the short-term, we're hoping the BAP can serve as a catalyst for conversations about racial inequity and continued learning for colleagues. Looking further ahead, our goal is to embed the work of the Black Action Plan into 'business as usual' and ensure that everything from how we recruit to product development has the Black customer and colleague in mind.

What is one thing that you would want people to know about the BAP?

Anyone is welcome to support the BAP, no matter your background. By tackling the demographic with the largest equity gap, we're confident the BAP will improve how we all relate to each other.

Imagine you are rereading this blog next year's Black History Month, what is one thing you want to say to your future self?

Keep pushing because the work you're doing matters. I hope the last 12 months has been full of conversations that have ultimately brought us all closer together.

ENDS

Find out more:

How we’re creating a more inclusive Tesco for our Black colleagues and communities

If Not Now, When? – our progress to a more inclusive workplace 

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