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ICAEW continues commitment to initiative to open up diverse talent pool

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 24 Aug 2023

Three young people tell ICAEW how the 10,000 Black Interns initiative helped them to overcome fears, network and gain the confidence to set their sights on a career in accountancy.

“The 10,000 Black Interns initiative is a great idea because it allows us to set up people at the earliest stages of our career to understand what it’s like to work for a company and prepare for any potential challenges. It also provides us with a real insight into how to increase diversity within the companies that we may be working for,” says Obed Nketia, 21. He is going into his fourth year studying an integrated masters in accounting and finance at the University of Derby, and has just completed a six-week internship at ICAEW as part of the 10,000 Black Interns scheme.

He was one of three interns who spent their time working across the Institute, learning how the organisation operates and putting together a joint presentation on their final day.

The 10,000 Black Interns initiative is designed to help transform the prospects of young Black people in the United Kingdom. The aim is to offer 2,000 internships each year for five consecutive years. Partnering with more than 700 firms across more than 20 different sectors, 10,000 Black Interns is delivering internships across a range of internal business functions, from accountancy to utilities.

By the end of summer 2023 the initiative will have created almost 5,000 internships in just three years. ICAEW delivered three internships last year and three this year to add to the initiative and has advocated for the initiative among member firms. Alongside other targeted efforts to increase diversity at early career stage within the profession, many of our member firms have provided internships via the 10,000 Black Interns initiative.

interns

She adds: “One important thing to mention is that no one in my family is in the accounting industry, so I didn’t know much about the sector at first. So it’s been a major help for me personally because I’ve been able to ask questions that I wouldn’t really be able to ask at home or have any family or friends that could help me. Without this initiative, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity.”

Faith Arowolo, 20, who is heading into her final year studying financial mathematics at Durham University, felt that as someone from an ethnic minority she might not get the same opportunities. “But this initiative gives us the opportunity to level out the playing field a little bit and gives us a good chance to get just as far as other people,” says Arowolo. “I think that’s what’s most important because we have a lot to offer – it’s just about being given the opportunity to be there. And I definitely do think the 10,000 Black Interns initiative has provided that opportunity”

The opposite to Ramroop, Arowolo comes from a family of accountants – all of whom were thrilled at the opportunity this programme was giving to budding accountants. “Back in their day, they had to work 10 times as hard to get to where they are now. They’re very happy that this opportunity is there for their kid, for this generation and hopefully many generations to come. I do think that it is the start of something special”, Arowolo says.

As part of the initiative, interns attend an ICAEW ceremony for recently qualified ACA students. Arowolo found it had a great impact. “Everybody felt very accomplished about what they just achieved. We were given the chance to network with people and hear their specific stories on what allowed them to choose this career path and what their plans are for the future. It makes you really think ‘if they can do it, I can do it’.”

Ramroop adds: “It was really rewarding because we could see that in a few years this could be us. It was nice to see people of different cultures, different genders and realise that could be us.”

The 10,000 Black Interns initiative is only one of ICAEW’s initiatives to support professionals from a Black heritage background. As the first professional membership body to sign the Black Talent Charter, ICAEW has set ambitious representation targets across all stakeholder groups.

ICAEW action planning in this area considers Black representation through four lenses:

  1. Representation amongst employees;
  2. Representation within the membership;
  3. Representation on ICAEW’s committees and advisory groups; and
  4. Access to the profession.

Earlier this year, the profession celebrated the positive developments in representation at Board level outlined in the Parker Review. Throughout the past year, ICAEW has run several other initiatives, i.e. we have partnered with Aspire on a student recruitment event for Black Heritage students, and have sponsored the re-launch of New Gen Accountants, a community network of Black accountants.

To continue supporting our (prospective) students in members of Black Heritage, the Black Members community offers updates on relevant initiatives, resources, and opportunities to network.

Join ICAEW's Black Members Community

Committed to promoting Black talent, this Community will inspire, inform and develop our existing Black members and students throughout their career. Membership is free and open to everyone including non-ICAEW members.

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