Moving on Up (MoU) is ARE’s flagship employment programme for young Black men in London, and came about from a Panorama programme several years ago highlighting the disparities in unemployment rates for young Black men. At the time, it was four times higher than their white counterparts. Our latest briefing paper shows that these disparities still exist.
In this blog, Moving on Up’s Project Support Officer Victoria Atanda and MoU Ambassadors share their thoughts on steps taken by one employer, WTW (an MoU Employer Champion) to recruit a more inclusive workforce.
Did you know?
Ambassador Visit to WTW
Last year, I was part of the team that took a group of Moving on Up’s Ambassadors to WTW, a global advisory, broking, and solutions company, to speak directly with senior leaders there, and find out what the organisation was doing to recruit a more inclusive workforce, including young Black men.
We met with the WTW team consisting of Mark Beardall, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Shirish Suthar, Software Transformation Consultant, and Andrea Webb, HR Business Partner.
We had a short tour of their impressive city office and then had a discussion about how WTW were changing their recruitment practices.
Our Ambassadors led on questioning the senior team at WTW to find out more about key policies and initiatives.
“One thing I particularly liked was the fact that even though those we met with were in quite senior positions they actively wanted a change, and wanted to do all they could to bring that change throughout the team. Although the company spans over 50k employees they have committed to not only setting commitments for diversity in the company, but are aiming to make a shift and hire more young Black men within the teams at all levels.
When building teams, having a diverse group is important to bear in mind. Not just diversity in colour, but in thought, mindset and background.
This is essential in finding different ways of working around a task. The teams that WTW have created try to ensure that important conversations are being had about the way things are done differently throughout the company.
For me, it was also clear that open conversations around diversity and inclusion aren’t something WTW have been looking at since George Floyd, but something they have had in place before. Usually, companies that start have started talking about equality, diversity and inclusion in response to the Black Lives Matter moment struggle to keep it up, but WTW seem to have committed deeply to communities to ensure practices are kept and conversations continue.”
“I had a great and eye opening experience going to WTW with my fellow ambassadors. It was a great experience because I would never have previously imagined that I would have had the chance to visit a corporate work space. This is because opportunities such as this were not visibly accessible to me during my studies.
Although I am happy in my current field as a teacher, I do think to myself:
“Maybe, if opportunities like this one at WTW were presented to me previously in different fields, I would have had the chance to see how they work and would have tried to widen my horizon as a student.”
It was fantastic hearing that everyone at WTW was passionate about increasing their inclusivity by employing people from different ethnic backgrounds, and also ensuring current employees had safe groups/networks they could join and connect with other employees from similar backgrounds.
I also liked that WTW are reaching out to more universities whereas in the past they would mostly look to Russell Group universities. In this way, in the long term, WTW will increase their workforce diversity & bring in future graduates with different skills from all walks of life.
I would recommend that more companies offer such visits to schools and universities so that students and future graduates can gain experience within that company’s field of work. They need to know there are a lot more doors accessible to them, rather than the standard paths they are told to take. I was greatly honoured to take part in the WTW visit and to meet the CEO and the rest of his team.
They shared the same views as ARE. I look forward to seeing them lead the way and set an example for other companies to follow.”
“The meeting with WTW was a good experience to talk directly with the employees and gain an insight on their views surrounding inclusive recruitment.
Meeting Mark Beardall, one of the senior team members at WTW was great because you could tell he was very experienced, and we gained a lot by listening to his views but also feeding back with what we thought would improve on employing YBM.
The fact that he was excited to work with us to deliver a positive change gave us encouragement that we are heading in the right direction.”
Following the visit, it was great to see WTW continuing to work on their commitment to recruit a diverse workforce, including young Black men. Mark Beardall, Chief Information Officer (CIO), committed to taking on 5 young Black men in next 12 months.
They have already hired 2 young men onto their tech apprenticeships.
Since the visit, they also hosted a pre-application workshop drawing attention from young people interested in an apprenticeship position.
Having a pre-application session is an excellent way for employers to ensure all young people gain a proper understanding of the application process. It’s good to see a global company like WTW making efforts to be more inclusive and proactively looking for ways to make their opportunities more visible and accessible to young Black men.
Action for Race Equality is calling on employers to provide holistic support to meet the needs of diverse jobseekers and employees.
If you’d like to learn more about supporting young people from a diverse range of backgrounds into your workforces, you may want to join the Employer Champions Group.
Related news: One young man attending an Moving on Up event found successful employment with HS2 via an apprenticeship. Read the full story here.
Author: Victoria Atanda