How 3 employers are supporting Black students

Dec 1, 2021 | Diversity

Enterprise, IBM, and Clifford Chance with Rare explain how they are taking steps to support the careers of Black students.

The following three cases studies are part of ISE’s Black Careers Matter report.

Enterprise: Responding to Social Change

Enterprise has always had a strong commitment to diversity. But, following the widespread public outcry over the murder of George Floyd, the organisation has strengthened its commitment to social and racial equity.

This included committing $55 million worldwide in grants through the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Enterprise Holdings, to address social and racial equity and appointing a new Chief Diversity Officer, Errin Braddock.

In the early careers space, the organisation has partnered with Loughborough University on their new Future Black Talent Programme. This is a career exploration and support programme based around a three-day online business challenge. Through participating in the programme Black students gain access to mentoring and insights from Black Enterprise employees. Enterprise is exploring the possibility of rolling this programme out more widely.

Enterprise has also introduced support sessions for all current and prospective applicants to their graduate roles to help demystify recruitment processes. This has seen a 10% increase in the success rate of candidates progressing through the Enterprise selection process. During these sessions, Enterprise invites diverse employees from the business to share their perspectives so applicants can see role models they can identify with.

The organisation is seeking to build a culture that actively considers diversity. This has included holding active listening sessions between Black employees and senior managers to increase understanding and encourage dialogue. Enterprise also encourages their recently hired colleagues to join a strand of their Diversity Team, including their Race Equality Team.

The aim of all these initiatives in attraction, selection and retention is to create a pipeline that ensures that graduates from all backgrounds have an equal chance of becoming the future leaders of the organisation.

Clifford Chance & Rare: Articles

Articles is Rare’s award-winning programme for candidates interested in applying for vacation schemes and training contracts with law firms. Rare launched Articles in 2010 as a programme exclusively for ethnic minority students with a focus on Black heritage students. As of 2021 it is a programme exclusively for Black heritage students.

Articles students benefit from firm insight events, one-to-one development with expert current or former lawyer coaches and a wealth of application and interview support from Rare.

Clifford Chance has worked with Rare since 2011, including with students on the Articles programme.

Over 300 students have completed the programme to date and Rare is currently working with its largest cohort yet with 70 Black heritage students on the programme this year. On average across the past three Articles cohorts, 69% of students have secured a vacation scheme or training contract with one of Rare’s partner firms (13 firms as of 2021). Clifford Chance has hired 86 Rare candidates from Black heritage backgrounds since 2011 and 36 of those students took part in Articles.

Roy Appiah completed Articles in 2011 and is now a Senior Associate at the firm. We asked him what the best thing about the programme was for him:

“I cannot pick a single thing, because there were so many – the individually catered feedback, the high calibre candidates, the inspiring individuals and the case studies. But I guess the best thing was their cumulative effect, in that all these aspects of the programme gave me the confidence to believe that being myself was enough, rather than needing to impersonate ‘the perfect candidate’.”

IBM: Foundation BAME

IBM’s Black Campaign has developed a programme of events for BAME early career staff within IBM called Foundation BAME.

The events create safe spaces for Black early career professionals to come together and share experiences. These events are Black led but open to White colleagues who want to join the conversation.

Foundation BAME has strengthened the sense of community amongst Black staff and raised their visibility within the organisation. This has included running surveys and consultations to bring issues to the surface and explore ways that things could be improved.

Foundation BAME has also created space for dialogue with other diversity groups within the organisation to help to address issues of intersectionality.

The activities of Foundation BAME have spurred the development of a new mentoring scheme for Black staff as well as the involvement of Black staff in the recruitment process.


This is an excerpt from ISE’s Black Careers Matter report

 Read more Black Careers Matter data, advice and case studies

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