The future is bright, the future is now

Posted in: The Diversity Blog- Feb 28, 2012 No Comments

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic young leaders – Gen YDL – are dreaming big dreams today, are better represented in higher education than their share of the population, and yet, find it harder to secure work after graduating and to get on and stay on the fast track leadership ladder when they do.

Britain’s current and future talent pool is racially diverse and progressive employers understand that it makes good business sense to utilise and grow this pool of talent (“Race For Opportunity”). The problem is that for potential graduate employees from a BME background, accessing these jobs and fast tracking their careers is still proving to be extremely difficult.
For employers, the opportunities presented by the pool of emerging BME leaders – Gen Y – are clear:

  • More than 10% of the UK workforce is from an ethnic minority background and over 20% of the emerging workforce are from an ethnic minority background.
  • Studies show that British workers from BME backgrounds, particularly Africans, have higher levels of ambition, motivation and entrepreneurship.
  • The number of University graduates from BME backgrounds is at its highest ever and continues to grow.
  • Businesses, particularly those trading abroad, have a growing demand for employees that have global cultural competencies, skillsets and attitudes.

Yet the evidence is also clear that there are still barriers to be overcome:

  • Youth unemployment stands at record levels, with graduate unemployment at over 20%.
  • There is a race dimension to this – the young ethnic groups hardest hit by the impact of the recession have been Black, Black British and Mixed Race.
  • Studies show that rates of career progression are slower for BME employees, and that employers are wasting this resource and failing to harness their energy and skills.
  • Those businesses for which at least three-quarters of their trade is with people from another culture find it significantly harder to recruit employees with the right skillsets than less globally-oriented businesses (British Council).

More needs to be done to bridge the gap for BME graduates between the knowledge and experiences gained at university and the skills, competencies and acumen that employers are looking for – particularly multinational corporations.

A recent British Council report quotes the Director for Talent at PriceWaterhouse Coopers saying that: “What global companies look for are people who we think can take a global perspective. Students are well placed to do this if they have taken opportunities to widen their cultural perspective. The people that succeed can work in multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural and multi-locational teams. If students have demonstrated they can work with other cultures and teams, that’s a big plus for us as we need students to be intellectually curious and culturally agile if they are going to work in a global context”.

The Diversity Practice GEN YDL (Young Different Leaders) Programme has been created to bridge this gap.

The first programme was run in June 2011. Sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline and Imperial College, 19 students from across the UK attended the two day workshop where they learnt and developed skills in business execution, effective communication, leadership, relationship building, working in a globally connected world, emotional intelligence, team effectiveness and their commercial awareness.

Speakers included Martin Swain, VP Global Employee Relations GlaxoSmithKline, Christine Yates, Head of Equalities Imperial College, Alioune Camara, Co-Chair Multicultural Leadership Network Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Audrey Campbell, Associate Director Diversity and Inclusiveness Ernst & Young, and Sarah Ebanja, former Deputy CEO London Development Agency.

Facilitated by Carol Campayne and Caroline Harper Jantuah, Directors of the Diversity Practice, the students described the experience as “inspirational”, “life changing”, “amazing” and “transformative”.

For further information on how you can get involved in the GEN Y – Young Different Leaders Programme as a participant, speaker or sponsor, email us.

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