Investment consultancy Redington is leading an initiative to connect leading financial services firms with black students, who will challenge them on their approaches to diversity and inclusion.

The participating organisations – Aon, Fidelity International, Invesco, LCP, Lincoln Pensions, Mercer, Morgan Stanley, St James’ Place and Wellington – are members of the Diversity Project.

They will work with more than 25 black students primarily from schools across south London, to find ways to increase the applications, opportunities and development of young black people in entry-level roles.

Students will be provided with information about the firms’ current diversity initiatives and entry level strategies, alongside what they perceive as any barriers to bringing in young black talent, and will then be encouraged to challenge the firms based on their own experience and market research.

To structure the discussion, they have been asked to solve the following problem:

“Despite decades of running Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, as an industry the representation of black employees in our organisations (at all levels) is not good enough: What problems/obstacles do we need to understand? What blind spots can you illuminate? What solutions can you suggest, specifically for bringing more entry level black talent into our organisations?”

The solutions will be presented this Friday to CEOs and other senior leaders from the participating firms as well as representatives from the industry. A spokeswoman for Redington said the students were briefed this morning with all of the background details.

The initiative is being run by an organisation called Entrepreneurs in Action.

Derek Browne, its CEO and a former private banker, said: “This initiative provides a unique platform to engage some of the highest profile investment management and consulting firms with a range of talented young individuals who are excited about the industry.

“Working with GenZ to solve industry challenges is the way forward and I hope this is the first of many programmes for Entrepreneurs in Action to work with the industry.”

Mitesh Sheth, CEO of Redington, added: “This is a timely opportunity for us as a group of industry executives to hear directly from young black students about the obstacles they face and their suggestions for increasing access for young black talent into our firms.

“It’s a chance to step out of our echo chamber, hear their perspectives and hopefully identify some talented young people too.”

The launch of the initiative comes as the killing of George Floyd by police in the US in May has sparked protests and calls for more to be done to combat institutionalised racism.

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