In the wake of racial injustices being exposed yet again in the American police force, the Black Lives Matter movement has seen a global resurgence. The goal of the movement is to end racism, both in institutions and in wider society. Activists wish to see a society in which Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people do not fear the organisations designed to protect them, and that they are provided with the same opportunities afforded to other members of society. Black Lives Matter “work[s] vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.”
Recruiters that respect these goals and wish to do their part in creating a more egalitarian society must take positive action to diversify their workforce. This is not only a benefit to the wider society, but also a direct benefit to productivity. A study in the journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology shows that diversifying existing groups improves performance. Furthermore, it isn’t only because the new individual adds a new perspective, they also stimulate the existing members of the group to perform better cognitively, adding new perspectives to the existing work force.
The governmental Equality Act of 2010 recognises the need for positive action in recruitment and allows for this practice. Recruiters are allowed to run employment schemes that only accept applicants deemed to be members of a disadvantaged community. BME students fall into this category.
Running BME-focused recruitment pathways is a method that employers use to diversify their workforce. The amount of these pathways in the employment landscape had been steadily increasing over the last few years, added in part by large trendsetters such as the BBC establishing a five-year Diversity and Inclusion strategy in 2016. However, there is a concern that these schemes might start to dwindle after lockdown, especially if the country heads into a recession. It is very likely that the COVID-19 lockdown will shrink the entire recruitment landscape; The Institute for Student Employers has reported that 27% of companies have said that they will be recruiting fewer graduates as a result of COVID-19.
So, I’ve taken a look at a few BME recruitment schemes in order to rekindle their visibility for students concerned about their employment opportunities post-COVID. As well as specific recruitment schemes, I have also included two organisations that aim to provide more generalised support to BME students and graduates.
BME recruitment schemes
The Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP)
You may have already heard of the Civil Service Fast Stream, the UK Government’s recruitment scheme designed to get fresh graduates into mid-tier roles straight out of university. Most Fast Stream jobs pay at least £27,000 in their first year, with promotion opportunities often within three years, so as you can guess, it’s a very popular scheme. The SDIP is the Fast Stream’s ‘primer’ internship. It runs over the summer and is open to BME students, those from a low socio-economic background, and disabled students.
Successful applicants will spend a minimum of six weeks working in a department of their choice, gaining experience in civil management that will set them up for a competitive Fast Stream application. If a participant in the SDIP receives a good report from their supervisor, they are ‘fast-tracked’ through the Fast Stream testing process and are automatically admitted to the interview stage.
Find out more about The Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP)
Diversity Access Scheme – The Law Society
Every year, The Law Society awards scholarships to 10 students wanting to undertake a Legal Practice Course (LPC). This scheme focuses on candidates from low socio-economic backgrounds. It also takes into account candidates coming from families with no history of FE, and people fleeing violent and oppressive regimes.
Successful applicants will be provided with a bursary to cover the cost of their LPC. The scholarship also provides a professional mentor and work experience in a legal sector of their choice.
Find out more about The Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme
The Harper-Collins BAME Traineeship
Harper-Collins is one of the world’s biggest publishing brands. In 2016 they launched their traineeship with the goal of recruiting BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) individuals, and don’t require candidates to hold a degree in order to apply.
Successful applicants are placed on a 12-month rotational employment at the company’s office in London. This allows applicants to gain experience in multiple areas of publishing such as sales, editorial, and production. The position also comes with a training allowance of around £23,000 annually.
Find out more about The BAME Traineeship at Harper-Collins
This is just a sample of the diversity initiatives offered on the job market currently. Graduates will need to conduct their own research in order to find the schemes that best suit their aspirations. However, the three mentioned here are provided from reputable organisations and run on an annually basis, so current 1st and 2nd years can be fairly certain that they will be accepting applicants upon graduation.
BME recruitment support
The Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) is an organisation providing support to BME students and those from a low socio-economic background who wish to pursue a career ‘in the city’. They provide support programmes for entry into five sectors; Consulting, Corporate Law, Business Technology, Engineering, and Investment Banking. Also, their HerCapital programme is designed to skill women for leadership roles in the corporate and financial sectors. SEO provides CV, interview, and psychometric test coaching as well as technical training and advice on market awareness.
Their executive staff and directing board are composed of a majority BME cohort with a significant proportion of them being alumni of an SEO programme themselves.
Find out more about SEO London
Creative Access hosts a platform advertising multiple recruitment schemes open to BME graduates interested in a career in the creative industries. Candidates make an account and receive tailored job offers based on their interests they list in their application. They report an 87% employment offer rate after applicants completed one of their advertised internships.
They partner with a large number with big-brand employers like Apple, the BBC, and the Financial Times. Harper-Collins was the first publisher to partner with them in 2011 and have gone on to advertise their BME traineeship through the site. Another benefit of the large pool of employment opportunities they have listed is the potential to be employed in areas of England outside of London, as well as remote work placements.
Find out more about Creative Access
These lists are by no means exhaustive and are provided as a useful starting position for graduates and soon-to-be graduates to begin exploring the opportunities currently offered. The organisations listed under recruitment support are a great next step for students curious about diversity recruitment schemes. Both websites have detailed resource lists and information for those wanting to find out more about BME recruitment schemes.
Article written for the Careers Service by Adam Hewitt, BA Philosophy and Theology, Harris Manchester College