Blog by Piyumi Samaraweera, acting Head of Membership Services, Race for Opportunity
LEAP works to improve the social and economic well-being of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. PwC is supporting LEAP as it moves from being a charity to being a social enterprise. Recently I attended an event, as a part of PwC’s One Firm One May annual volunteering and fundraising activity. PwC reached out to peer employers, through Opportunity Now and Race for Opportunity, and there were about fifty people in the room engaging in what I felt was a real conversation on understanding the ethos and effectiveness of LEAP.
A young man called Takshai Padaliya who had come through the LEAP programme and just a week ago been offered a place at PwC, spoke of how the LEAP programme with PwC had helped demystify the recruitment process for him and given him the crucial confidence that he needed to perform at the interview. PwC Partner and Government and Public Sector Leader, Paul Cleal, talked about his work on the Government's Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. PwC’s Sarah Churchman, a well known stalwart in the Diversity and Inclusion field, then facilitated a conversation around how different organisations would articulate their business case for working with LEAP which helped audience members think through that scenario in a really practical way. Holly Allen, from PwC’s recruitment team positioned how and why partnering with an organisation like LEAP made so much sense to her team as they don’t have the resources to go looking for the ‘right’ talent from non-traditional sources. At the very end, (before the all important wine, canapés and networking!), Tunde Banjoko, OBE, LEAP's Chief Executive addressed the audience and gave a very personal account of why LEAP does what it does. After giving a really positive shout-out to the Legal Sector’s PRIME initiative, Tunde suggested that employers should consider ring fencing a percentage (3-5%) of their entry level vacancies for the socially disadvantaged as a way to level the playing field. While that may sound in the first instance like a suggestion that has serious legal implications, the broader point is well made. The more you focus – (and that’s what ring-fencing and targets do) – the higher our chances of success.
In our world of diversity and inclusion the Talent Challenge is much discussed, but strangely enough, solutions to it don’t seem to be given quite as much air time.
That’s what I really like about what PwC were doing. Their clear and proactive advocacy of the great work that LEAP do will hopefully help other employers feel less reticent about partnering with LEAP and other organisations that follow a similar model. It’ a version of the try-before-you-buy model. Surely if the LEAP model works for PwC, it must be at least worth your while as an employer to give it a shot?