A message from our CEO:

I wanted to follow-up on my LinkedIn post about The Brokerage’s role in addressing structural inequalities including race. The systemic racism in the labour market makes it very hard for us to achieve our vision of a world where a young person’s ability and aspiration alone determine their career path. Especially as 90 per cent of The Brokerage’s candidates come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

My team and I have discussed and reflected on the role The Brokerage can and must play in bringing about change – faster, better, more vocally – in “our” area of expertise, as the broker between young people and professional jobs. We are hearing loud and clear from our young people how they have been affected and from our corporate partners about how they want to do better. So how do we do something different, something that creates a real and lasting change in the way corporates attract, include and retain non-privileged young people from BAME backgrounds? How do we go beyond a situation where the onus is placed on the black person to make themselves more ‘includable’ into the (white) norm? How do we not just change, but break the mould?

We don’t have all the answers yet. But I want to make a number of commitments of what we will be doing going forward:

Firstly, we will start talking about race more explicitly. To our corporate partners. To our young people and schools. To the ‘wider system’. As a social mobility charity we have always talked openly about how professional jobs are dominated by privileged people but not the fact that our young people also looked ‘different’ from the predominantly white organisations they went into and what that meant. We will do so now, starting with an open forum amongst our young people about ‘race at work’.

Secondly, we will develop products and services that help change corporate behaviours and practices, supporting our partners to create more accessible and inclusive workplaces. We will develop a model that looks at the whole ecosystem from recruitment to progression and we will start by supporting companies on understanding how it feels like from our candidate’s perspective to step into the organisation, and what would make it easier for them to do so successfully.  We know a lot of D&I training and services exists, but we want to do something different, that focuses on the lived experience and builds empathy, understanding and ultimately changes behaviours.

Thirdly, we will ensure that our young people’s experience of work is positive and successful, by holding our corporate partners accountable as to how inclusive their attitudes and behaviours are. As social media accounts are awash with general messages of support, we’ve also debated ‘performative activism’ or ‘performative allyship’ where substance-less statements aren’t followed by real action. We want our corporate partners to be better than that: don’t put a BAME employee on your corporate leaflets if you aren’t going to put them into client facing jobs, don’t mentor our young people if you don’t want to commit to trying harder to recruit from more diverse backgrounds. So from now on, we won’t just parachute our young people into an organisation but make sure that that company has at least looked at their practices. We will help them to educate managers, through compulsory diversity workshops and training. We will also look at how we can develop a set of indicators that don’t just focus on ‘standard’ D&I practice but on the experiential side – in other words how does it feel to be person from a different background in that organisation.   

Finally, we commit to ‘authentic’ and ‘genuinely supportive’ becoming our two guiding key principles in whatever we develop and do in this area. We will put the voice of our young people at the heart of what we do. To do so, this week we are welcoming a group of young people to become our ‘Generation 2020 Ambassadors’ who will inform our work, challenge us and help us to take the debate forward. We are also keenly aware that what we mustn’t do is put the pressure back on to our young people to act as the voice of change – we are and will remain the broker that amplifies what our young people think, feel and need. Only together we are Changemakers.

Katerina Rudiger, CEO