How HSBC and Pathway CTM used meaningful encounters to attract diverse students

Feb 9, 2023 | Case studies, Diversity

Celebrating best practice for National Apprenticeship Week, Pathway CTM explains how meaningful ‘taster’ days are in helping HSBC attract young people from low socio-economic backgrounds.

In October last year, Pathway CTM hosted two ‘taster’ days with HSBC, one at their Birmingham office and one at their London Canary Wharf office. A key aim for HSBC was to raise awareness amongst young people from low socio-economic backgrounds about commercial banking.

By working alongside HSBC, we were able to create an engaging and insightful agenda where young people were able to network, attend Q&A panels, hear about HSBC and their diversity initiatives.

They could also learn more about what a career for them at HSBC could look like, be that through an apprenticeship programme or graduate job.

Recruiting students to attend

When it came to recruiting students to the event we reached out to local schools, who saw the value in the agenda we had set up with HSBC and therefore pushed it out to their students.

This allowed us to have 130 students across the two days. In Birmingham, 96% of the students who joined us were from a minority ethnic group, and 33% received free school meals. In London, 94% of students who attended were from a minority ethnic group, and 37% of students received Free School Meals.

Read more about how to reach and engage school students

Student feedback

We received some fantastic student feedback about the day. In the post event survey we asked students, ‘what was the standout thing you will take away from today?’ Responses included, ‘the amount of opportunities that are available to me after my A-levels’ and ‘that I can do an apprenticeship programme that gives me a degree and I don’t have to go to university’.

The feedback also highlighted how much work still needs to be done in the school leaver space surrounding students next steps which Pathway and HSBC are committed to.

Impact of meaningful encounters

Following these ‘taster’ days, it was clear to Pathway CTM that students need face-to-face meaningful encounters with employers in order to make important decisions around who they would be interested in working for in the future.

We had a diverse group of young people, and they were most impacted by the HSBC Diversity session. They told us that they didn’t know how committed HSBC were to diversity as an employer.

This shows that no matter how much organisations say and do through marketing, young people are impacted most when they are given the opportunity to experience it all themselves.

Students are also unaware of the plethora of roles that are available at companies like HSBC. Many commented that they were surprised that you didn’t have to be a maths/finance whiz to have a career at HSBC.

This is not only an issue for HSBC, but for many companies, as students struggle to see beyond the initial output of the company.  By learning that there is more to companies like HSBC, improves students’ confidence and this is especially important for social mobility students. We all want to make a difference and showcase to students from low socio-economic backgrounds that they can have a successful future, they just need the confidence to believe this themselves.

Our key takeaway from creating meaningful encounters through ‘taster’ days and others we have done in the past is that the power truly lies in bringing students into your organisation.

When we asked students what their favourite part of the day was, feedback included: ‘being able to talk to current employees in the networking session’, ‘being able to ask questions about work-life balance at HSBC’ and ‘speaking to everyone that is a part of HSBC’.

These verbatims highlight how much in-person interaction impacts young people from diverse backgrounds and gives them the career confidence and guidance they need to feel as if they can apply for competitive programmes.

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