British fund managers launch paid internships for Black graduates

Monday, 17 August 2020 14:30 GMT

ARCHIVE: A silhouetted worker walks in front of office towers in the Canary Wharf financial district in London February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

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Firms say they want to tackle the ‘chronic underrepresentation’ of Black people in the industry

By Amber Milne

LONDON, Aug 17 (Openly) - Britain's top investment management firms pledged on Monday to offer 100 paid internships to Black graduates in a bid to tackle the "chronic underrepresentation" of Black people in finance.

The #100blackinterns initiative aims to offer more opportunities to young Black graduates in an industry dominated by white men.

"In over two decades in the City, I have rarely come across anyone who looks like me," said Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, who co-founded pensions advisory group Redington and helped co-ordinate the internship project.

"We hope other professions will follow suit and have an impact on the representation of Black talent in their own industries."

A study by consultancy firm Green Park last month found none of the top jobs in Britain's financial institutions were held by people from racial minorities, while a 2018 study by the think tank New Financial found only 12 Black portfolio managers.

Britain's financial sector has had to reckon with its racist history in recent months, with both the Bank of England and Lloyds of London apologising for their role in the slave trade and pledging to hire more Black staff.

Aggie Mutuma, who works with the British network Black Leaders, said the move should be the "first step of many" in tackling racial inequality.

"I think anything that recognises the disparities that there are in the UK, of which there are many, for Black people at entry level or senior level is going to be positive," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Hopefully it will be an inspiration for other organisations and industries too."

Eighty of Britain's top investment firms including Standard Life Aberdeen, M&G Investments and Fidelity International have pledged to offer at least one paid internship to a Black graduate for six weeks beginning next year.

Pay will vary from firm to firm, but will be no lower than the London Living Wage, set at 10.75 pounds ($14) an hour.

Internship schemes that are unpaid or poorly paid have been blamed in the past for entrenching unequal access to jobs in the capital, where the cost of living is higher than elsewhere.

Related stories:

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Equality at work 'decades away' in Britain as men dominate top jobs

($1 = 0.7633 pounds) (Reporting by Amber Milne; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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