Heavyweight political figures including the former prime minister David Cameron will this week throw their support behind an initiative aimed at ending the “chronic under-representation” of black people across major British industries.
Sky News understands that a group of senior City figures will on Tuesday launch 10,000 Black Interns, a programme that they will describe as an ambitious attempt to transform the prospects of young black people in the UK.
The project will establish a target of securing 10,000 paid work experience places for young black people at employers across 10 industries, including accountancy, education, marketing and advertising, healthcare management and law, during the next five years.
10,000 Black Interns has been set up by Jonathan Sorrell, president of the alternative asset manager Capstone Investment Advisors, following the launch of a smaller initiative, 100 Black Interns, for the investment management sector.
Mr Sorrell and his co-founders have secured the support of Mr Cameron, the Labour peer Baroness Amos and the former Liberal Democrat and Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who is now an executive at the communications consultancy Edelman.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s launch, Mr Cameron said: “This initiative will help build a more inclusive economy that works for everyone.
“We are encouraging leaders from British industry and professional services to champion the effort in their sector.”
The launch comes at a time when the ethnic diversity of Britain’s workplaces is drawing unprecedented scrutiny.
The issue has become a particular area of focus following the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent months.
Earlier this month, the CBI, Britain’s biggest employers’ group, launched Change The Race, an initiative to improve ethnic diversity in boardrooms.
Recently published data shows that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people remain under-represented in British business’s senior echelons.
People close to the 10,000 Black Interns project said the CBI, the Association of British Insurers and companies such as Credit Suisse, the law firms Linklaters and Travers Smith, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Sainty Hird, a recruitment consultancy, had agreed to participate.
The venture has also agreed to work with bodies representing higher education institutions, including University Alliance, GuildHE, MillionPlus and the Russell Group.
Collectively, these bodies represent 84 institutions with an estimated one million students, of whom approximately 80,000 are black.
The expanded 10,000 Black Interns programme is targeting companies which will offer approximately 100 internships in each industry each year for five years in order to reach the programme’s objective.
Participants will be asked to commit to a longer-term responsibility to advise, mentor, and sponsor other black pupils and students, with the goal being to create more high-quality career opportunities for black people over a prolonged period.
10,000 Black Interns will also confirm on Tuesday that it is launching a search for a chief executive and board of trustees.
The project’s other co-founders are Dawid Konotey-Ahulu of pensions platform Mallowstreet, Michael Barrington-Hibbert, founder of search firm Barrington Hibbert Associates, and Wol Kolade, managing partner of the private equity investor Livingbridge.
Baroness Amos said: “It is so powerful to see leading players in different sectors pulling together to address the underrepresentation of black talent in such a tangible and sustainable fashion.
“Of course there is so much more to do, but this programme is a great step in the right direction.”
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