Let’s Talk About Race: The Parity Project
Millennials, largely defined as people born between the mid 1980s and early 2000s, make up a substantial proportion of the current and future workforce. In a time of emerging markets, start-ups, and new technology, beginning a career should be an exciting time for young graduates and school leavers. However, we are reminded that there is still not equal access to opportunities, with research showing that Young Black Men (YBM) have a higher unemployment rate than young white men and young women in all other ethnic groups. The unemployment rate for YBM in London actively seeking work is 30%, more than double the rate for young white men (14%). YBM have higher rates of post-16 education than white young men. However, spending longer in education is not leading to any reductions in the higher unemployment rates experienced by Young Black Men. And the unemployment rate for black graduates is more than double the unemployment rate for white graduates. Clearly there’s something amiss.
In a strive for equality, ELBA in partnership with Nomura, XL Catlin and State Street has recently launched the Parity project. Parity works with Young Black Men, aged 18-30, and living in London, to improve employability skills and provide access to sustainable careers. One of the ways we are achieving this is by providing meaningful insight and networking opportunities. Most recently, Parity candidates attended a panel discussion and networking event with one of our corporate supporters. The panel made up of Black male employees at different stages in their careers, discussed issues relevant to the young men such as diversity – ‘often finding [yourself] the only Black person in the room’; and relatability – ‘in an interview, being aware that [your] interests and backgrounds are very different from the recruiters’… the burden is on [you] to make the connection.’
The employees warned candidates ‘not to rely on [their] paper-value’ advising them to keep pressing on, and concentrate on building networks. As digital natives, candidates’ use of social media such as LinkedIn, is one of the most important tools in making initial connections.
After the insightful panel discussion, the candidates received the opportunity to speak to members of their Race & Ethnicity Network (REN) informally over lunch. As one candidate put it:
“Networking is even more powerful when success looks like you.”
Our corporate partners have joined the conversation and we are working with them to increase business’ understanding of the challenges facing YBM trying to access and progress in professional roles.
We would like to invite everyone to join the conversation with us at our “Let’s Talk About Race” Youth Conference on 24 April from 5-8pm. To book your ticket for the event, please click here.