Research by Business in the Community - the group founded by the Prince of Wales to support responsible business - shows that only 1.5% of leadership roles in the UK are held by people from a Black Heritage background. To ensure the leadership teams of the future are more diverse, organisations such as ICAEW are supporting Black Heritage students in their career development.
On Friday 23 April, ICAEW partnered with TARGETjobs in hosting an event for Black Heritage students. The event aimed to provide those students with an opportunity to practice workplace skills, connect with top employers and have access to Black Heritage role models. Attended by 132 Black Heritage undergraduates, the event provided students with early career insight and guidance to begin their career journey.
Commenting on ICAEW’s involvement, Dr Antonia Sudkaemper, Diversity & Inclusion Manager for Education & Training at ICAEW said: “Events like this one are crucial for young people when they are planning their careers. They allow students to develop key skills, build a network, and receive important information that helps them to make key career decisions”.
Students were inspired by talks from Black Heritage graduates and senior leaders, who shared their own experiences and career advice.
Emmanuel Agboola, ICAEW graduate and senior analyst at BDO said “Representing ICAEW was a great experience for me. In the world we live in today, it is easy for students to be discouraged in the pursuit of their desired career path. This motivated me in volunteering to share my experiences and hopefully encourage some of the attendees to go after whatever professional careers they choose.”
A subsequent panel provided insight from senior business leaders of Black Heritage who shared stories about their journeys to where they are today, demonstrating how their heritage has helped shape their careers.
Michael Asare Bediako, ICAEW member and Senior Manager at BDO joined the panel. He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the programme and experience. It was a privilege for me to represent ICAEW and share my experiences as a BAME member of ICAEW. It struck me how my experiences were similar to other members on the panel and the wider BAME community, and that our stories, journeys and backgrounds are very similar.
He added, “There was a sense that racism and the issues it presents to society are now at the centre of most discussions and that companies, professional service firms and bodies such as ICAEW are doing their bit to promote fair representation of the BAME community in corporate Britain.”
Skills sessions and student feedback
During the event, students were also given the opportunity to build confidence and develop the skills needed to secure their first job through a series of employer-led workshops. The sessions covered, for instance, how to navigate the virtual application process and interview etiquette.
ICAEW hosted a session titled ‘Talk About a Time When’. The session focussed on how students might demonstrate their previous experiences during the application and interview process. Students who have had limited opportunities can often struggle to talk about their life experience if they have not received the confidence and guidance to do so.
Student feedback on the event was overwhelmingly positive and students particularly appreciated listening to a panel that they could fully relate to, with one commenting: “This is the most relatable panel I’ve had at any conference.”
Ensuring that the accountancy profession becomes more diverse is one of ICAEW’s key objectives this decade. In line with this, ICAEW and the Global Student Recruitment Team are committed to improving access to the profession to a diverse range of students from different backgrounds. The event was a great opportunity to support talented students from a Black Heritage background, and ICAEW is grateful for the opportunity to partner with TARGETjobs and BDO on this initiative.
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