The Conclusion of the Diversion and Inclusion Campaign, 18th of October 2023
Updated: Nov 10
Mayor’s Fund for London Evaluation by Partnership for Young London
It was a cold, wet day on Wednesday the 18th of October 2023 outside City Hall but thankfully, that dull, dreary atmosphere was not replicated inside where the Mayor’s Fund for London celebrated the end of the Diversity and Inclusion for London Campaign, where a group of 80 employers joined in the campaign to bring a greater and stronger diversity and inclusion focus within their own organisations.
The Mayor’s Fund for London is a charity, patroned by the Mayor of London, that launches opportunities for young Londoners from low-income backgrounds via a whole range of avenues, like employment, education and wellbeing. In October 2021, the Mayor’s Fund for London launched the Firms Foundation Campaign with employers from across the Built Environment (in avenues like architecture, infrastructure and construction, property PR, structural engineering, design etc.,) as employers in this field had recognised of a lack of diversity across their workforce and they had a commitment to do more to encourage and support a diverse young workforce coming into the sector and Partnership for Young London will be summarising and capturing the successes of this campaign as well as highlighting areas for improvement in future work of this nature.
We began with a welcome from Joss Harrison, a MFL Youth Board Member who cheerfully spoke of how proud he was to be in a time where opportunities like this existed for young people (those 25 and under), his fond experience working with Partnership for Young London in the past and set out how the evening is going to look. We then had an introduction from Jim Minton, the CEO of MFL, which I pleasantly enjoyed listening to, it was nice hearing an older voice reaffirm his and London’s wider societies commitment to letting young people access work in fields that they desire, especially young people from backgrounds that don’t usually get to access it. There was particular focus on the built environment with architects, associates and project managers featured throughout the night and in both panels.
The Youth Panel
The first panel to be heard was the Youth Panel, chaired by the eloquently spoken Melissa Dias from the Wates Group. The members of the Youth Panel were very diverse, reflecting the aims of the MFL with Safa Mustafa Khan a senior MEC Intern, Vivek Lad an apprentice at Savills, Amina Aweis who is MFL Ambassador and Queren Njiay who is part of Seaforth Land, on their scholarship program. Some key points I picked up from this panel is the necessity of careers fairs, to experience a whole range of careers, experience in schools which is accessible for all, not just those who are ‘go-getters’ and help in understanding roles and breaking down titles, especially with inside days at the company, so you get a real lived experience of what the role includes. The importance of a thorough onboarding, where talent is nurtured and cared for was really really emphasised! Some on the youth panel reiterated that there is no rush to jump into a career with both Safa and Amina doing various roles before they found their current perfect fit.
The Employer Panel
On the employers panel that was chaired by the charismatic Roni Savage who is the founder of Jomas Associates and a new member of MFL Trustee Employer Panel, had Judith Topley, a part of Jo Cowen Architects, Farrah Laborde a member of Seaforth Land, Stephen Adeoye, the founder of Beyond Education and Ayo Akande the lead of Skills & Employment in the GLA. Ayo reaffirmed the GLA's commitment to engaging with schools with 4.4 thousand new opportunities for young people in London, helping schools develop a career based curriculum and making sure that the target of 95% of schools having a careers advisor is met. All members of the panel were open to the idea of alternatives to engaging with schools but not much more can be done due to the loss of ‘third spaces’ throughout London but I digress. The employers recognised that change in attitudes in the workplace are a whole company issue, not just specific to HR. Farrah and Stephen highlighted the importance of inclusion and keeping diversity in the workplace, and nurturing said diversity instead of just hiring diversity to fill a status quo. An increasing usage of workplace ‘meet and greets’, letting young employers meet the team they will be working with, mentoring - either with a person in a similar role who joined the company earlier or another young person and scholarships were really prioritised with Queren actually being an inaugural recipient of the Seaforth Land Scholarship and Farrah explaining how beneficial and positive the effects of that scholarship had on Queren.
Conclusions and Next Steps
We then received a 'thanks' and minor reflection from both Joss and Jim as we had definitely run over due to the wonderfully engaging conversations, there existed a fair balance of employers and young people in attendance, ensuring there was a balanced conversation and everyone had an opportunity to learn a lot. The last hour was left for further networking and further conversations with other employers made me feel hopeful that young people were going to be cared for in their future careers. Now, the Peer Researchers for PYL will host analytic interviews with participants and make a detailed report on the campaign over three months and the final report will be ready and shared in December.