SJP's Black Interns Matter success highlights need for D&I

SJP's Black Interns Matter success highlights need for D&I
BIM screenshot via Stephen James Partnership

Black Interns Matter, a programme designed to help young people get experience at legal and financial firms in the UK, has now developed three programmes and is anticipating increased demand from next month.

Following the initiative's soft launch a year ago, Black Interns Matter now has Black Interns Matter Access, the Black Vacation Scheme and Black Lawyers Matter Mentoring.

Samuel Clague, creator of Black Interns Matter, said: "We have run Access and BVS programmes notwithstanding Covid-19, and anticipate an increase in demand post September, when more firms and companies transition back to the office."

Law graduate Clague founded the Stephen James Partnership, the UK's only Black-owned legal recruitment firm, to help graduates find work in the legal sector. It has recently broadened out into financial services recruitment. 

He said: "In the past couple of years I have tried to do more for the Black community, giving people an opportunity and access into the industry."

For example, Black Lawyers Matter Mentoring is a programme being developed in conjunction with charity The Aleto Foundation, to provide reverse mentoring to senior lawyers and a pool of aspiring black legal professionals.

Already Mishcon de Reya has benefited from being a partner in the Black Vacation Scheme programme.

Clague said: "In July, three excellent candidates participated in the firm’s vacation scheme. The three did so well that they were offered training contracts to start at the firm the following week, which far surpassed my expectations."

He added: "We have helped several hundred aspiring black lawyers across our programmes and diversity centric recruitment."

But his aim is to keep reaching out across the legal and financial professions to improve access for Black candidates wanting to forge a career.

Diversity Awards

Financial services in particular is a difficult one if someone does not have a network.

As reported earlier this year by FTAdviser, Randstad’s ‘Paying Attention’ report revealed only one in 10 management jobs in the UK are held by members of the black, Asian and ethnic minority community. 

Within financial services, the numbers are even lower, something the regulator noted in 2016 as well as vowing to set an example itself.

That year the Financial Conduct Authority set a target of having 8 per cent of senior employees identifying as Black, Asian or other ethnic minority by 2020, and 13 per cent by 2025.

This is one of the reasons the FTAdviser Diversity in Finance Awards was created - to highlight examples of best practice across the financial services industry and to encourage more companies - large and small - to think about how to improve their diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives. 

The FTAdviser DIFAs are now in their third year and, with more than 80 entries this year, it has been difficult to select winners but the judges have indeed decided. 

On September 8, all will be revealed at our virtual DIFA 2021 Award Ceremony. To book your place, and to watch our exclusive panel debate on the subject of integrating DEI into financial services, click here or bookmark this link: https://events.bizzabo.com/283621