In October last year (2017), we were delighted to hold our inaugural Black Heritage Future Leaders – an initiative that forms part of our commitment to improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

We were delighted to partner with six leading organisations: AccentureAmerican ExpressCMSEYGovernment Communication Service and J.P. Morgan. The initiative was born out of some of the startling findings from our research in 2017 which revealed that over half of our BME members surveyed felt that they had been held back in their career due to a lack of network, knowledge, discrimination based on their name and their worries about how they might be perceived.

“Every BME members that we spoke with told us that they now consider an employer’s approach to diversity and inclusion when they  make an application”

One Bright Network member even revealed how she had been told that ‘as a black female, it’s going to be extremely hard for you to be a successful lawyer”.

All of the BME members that we spoke with told us that they now consider an employer’s approach to diversity and inclusion when they are making an application –  underlining the importance of highlighting the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives to hire and retain a high calibre, diverse workforce.

And while there was some good news in that a number of our BME members felt they had not been held back personally, many mentioned negative experiences they’d heard from their peers.

Comments included:

  • “I believe my racial background has severely hindered me in a recruitment process, despite my academic achievements.”
  • “There have been times where I think assumptions are made about my achievements/accolades, as if they weren’t expected of me.”
  • “I have felt that my background has hindered me because I have not been aware of the various opportunities available to me. This has made recruitment processes far less familiar to me than others who were perhaps better prepared from an earlier point.”
  • “I have found that often people from disadvantaged backgrounds are not aware that certain opportunities are even an option for them due to not having the right guidance early.”
  • “As a black female, I am constantly second guessing whether or not I will be judged based on the merits of my CV or my appearance and whatever unconscious bias an employee might have.”
  • “I feel like there can be a lot of judgement based on the background information or simply your name in an application.”
  • “I know people that are worried to put their real names on applications because it would give away where they are from.”
  • “Perhaps subconsciously. Firms generally look for a profile, and this can include appearance. Likewise, differences in background can prevent opportunities to connect with an interviewer.”

 

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