New research commissioned by The Brokerage highlights the strengths rooted in the experience of disadvantage and the steps employers can take to ensure they are not overlooking talented candidates

It is widely acknowledged that adversity can foster strength; and as a result, people who face challenges in life are often able to adapt and learn from these experiences, building capabilities that can set them up for growth and success. However, what does that mean in a professional context? How do these personal experiences translate into the workplace? And how can employers ensure they are set up in a way that ensures these talents are not ‘overlooked’.

The Overlooked Advantage’, in contrast to a lot of existing research on the topic of disadvantage, which often focuses on individuals’ deficits, draws on existing literature and interviews with The Brokerage Candidates, Alumni and corporate partners and identifies five key strengths that emerge from young people’s experience of inequality. These strengths: readiness to learn, emotional and cultural intelligence, desire for excellence, creativity and resilience, are all highly desired by employers, and yet often their recruitment practices and processes are not allowing them to be seen. This means that not only are young people losing out, but employers may be inadvertently overlooking the most talented candidates.

This report seeks to help employers navigate the challenges of optimising their early careers recruitment practices so that they can be equally accessed by underrepresented talent from working class backgrounds and young people of colour. It lays out the steps employers should take to act on the imbalance of representation of young people from working class backgrounds and minoritised ethnic groups in professional jobs. This includes developing organisational empathy, being able to effectively assess skills and experiences during recruitment, as well as developing cultures that make young people feel like they belong. The recommendations are informed by literature on what works, as well as outputs from focus groups with young people and employers working with The Brokerage.

Launching the report, Aisha Lysejko, Head of Service Delivery & Employer Engagement at The Brokerage said:

“Whilst it is critical that more is done to tackle the root causes of inequalities, it is also important to recognise that individuals are far more than the disadvantages they experience. In particular, when it comes to the ever-evolving skills and attributes required for the modern workplace, employers must understand that such strengths can exist because of, not in spite of challenging circumstances.

“It is my hope that with this research, that young people are able to recognise the strengths they bring and redefine the labels placed on them with confidence and pride. Equally, I hope that in the context of the current skills shortage and ‘war for talent’ employers are experiencing, that they recognise that their current recruitment practices are holding them back and take on board the recommendations we make, which we know will contribute to a long-term shift towards inclusivity.”

In response to this research, The Brokerage is in the process of developing a suite of services that will help corporates implement the report’s recommendations and wider inclusive practices, via our ‘Changemaker’ offer. A fundamental part to all of this is ensuring that the perspective of working class and ethnically minoritised young people is understood and considered at every stage and this forms a fundamental part of all the services and programmes we are developing for employers; setting them apart from other initiatives in this space.

Click here to read the full report.

If you would like further information or a discussion about how we might help your organisation, please contact



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