Race Equality Awards 2016 - Role Models in the Workplace (small org) - Rare

Joshua Oware, Research Manager


After graduating from the University of Oxford, Joshua joined Rare as research/community affairs coordinator. He was initially hired to unpack the meaning of ‘social mobility’ and better understand how race and class interrelate. Questions arising from Joshua’s research formed the basis of a change in Rare’s strategic approach.

Joshua’s research led to the development of Rare’s Contextual Recruitment System (CRS), a software package that helps provide equality of opportunity by putting achievement into context. The creation of the CRS rested on Joshua’s 2013 research ‘Social Mobility in Graduate Recruitment: Potential not Polish’, particularly his creation of a series of interviews to test unconscious bias. This helped Rare understand the social, cultural and economic dimensions of disadvantage. Joshua also published a second landmark research project on unconscious bias in graduate recruitment, evaluating symbols of success through a sociocultural lense and making eight recommendations to employers.
Joshua redesigned and co-ordinated Rare’s Target Oxbridge development programme, which aims to end the under-representation of black students at Oxford and Cambridge. He contacted Oxbridge academics and his university peers and utilised their insight to create tutorials, seminars, fieldwork activities and mock interviews which help prospective students with more abstract thinking and develop greater self-knowledge.
Joshua engages senior leaders within and outside Rare. He convenes the Contextual Recruitment Working Group, a unique pan-industry group that consists of leading employers, heads of university admission, graduate recruitment directors, psychologists and leading researchers. He also engages with senior academics and practitioners by speaking at conferences, roundtables and seminars across the UK, as well as Parliamentary Inquiries, and has presented as an expert commentator on social mobility in national media.


  • Joshua’s research has had national and international impact. The CRS technology has been adopted by 34 UK firms, with the majority signed up to a three-year licence, and has featured in the Financial Times and on the BBC. In 2016, Joshua was asked to join Jo Johnson MP’s Social Mobility Advisory Group as an advisor.
  • Target Oxbridge is now in its fifth year and remains one of Rare’s most successful development programmes. 26 out of 50 Target Oxbridge students have received Oxbridge offers in the past two years, and nine out of 25 students in the first year received offers from Russell Group universities. Over 40 students on the programme have also attended three-day residential courses at Oxford.
  • Rare’s research team has grown to support the projects Joshua is tasked with and he currently manages a range of qualitative and quantitative projects. His research has broadened Rare’s focus and the organisation now provides contextual information to clients taking candidates’ experience into account. Rare continually learns from the findings produced by Joshua and his team, including analysis of popular A-level subjects which led to outreach work with disadvantaged schools.