St James’s Place, Fidelity International and Invesco are among a group of 10 financial services firms looking to tackle the underrepresentation of black talent in the investment industry.
Entrepreneurs in Action is running the programme as part of its Classroom to Boardroom initiative in a bid to help connect businesses directly with students.
The participating organisations – which also include Aon, LCP, Lincoln Pensions, Mercer, Morgan Stanley, Redington and Wellington – will work with more than 25 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.
Derek Browne, chief executive of Entrepreneurs in Action, said: “As someone who joined the industry 30 years ago, I am aware it has made slow progress to identify and recruit black talent despite a range of entry programmes under the banner of diversity.
“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.”
Each firm will share details of their current diversity initiatives and entry level strategies, alongside any barriers to entry they perceive, with the students.
Students will then be encouraged to challenge firms on their existing approaches based on their own experience and market research and present both their findings and solutions as part of a digital session in July.
The students have been asked to focus on the following:
Despite decades of running diversity and inclusion initiatives, as an industry the representation of black employees in our organisations (at all levels) is not good enough.
What problems or 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 students’ solutions and findings will be presented to chief executives and other senior leaders from the participating firms, alongside representatives from the industry.
Sarah Kaiser, head of employee experience at Fidelity International, said: "We have diversity and inclusion at our heart and are committed to continue to improve in this area. We strongly support cross- industry campaigns to further encourage diversity and are delighted to be working on this excellent Classroom to Boardroom initiative."
A spokesperson from Invesco said the industry had to start at the "education level" if it was going to tackle the issue of attracting an "ethnically diverse pool of creative minds" into the industry.
They added: "We are ready to listen and learn, as we play our part in ensuring a diverse pipeline of talent for the future."
Mitesh Sheth, CEO of participating firm Redington, said it was a “timely opportunity” for industry executives to hear directly from young black students about the obstacles they face and their suggestions for increasing access for young talent into their own firms.
He added: “It’s a chance to step out of our echo chamber, hear their perspectives and hopefully identify some talented young people too.”