Eighty firms so far have agreed to back a new internship programme aimed at addressing the chronic shortage of Black talent represented in UK finance.
Launched yesterday, the group #100blackinterns has signed up a cross-section of the UK financial industry to create better opportunities for young, university-educated Black people trying to break into the City.
Eighty firms have so far committed to the programme, with more expected, who will offer a paid internship to 100 Black candidates next summer in frontline investment environments, the parties said at the launch.
The initiative is being coordinated by Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, co-founder of Redington, and Mallowstreet; Jonathan Sorrell, president of Capstone Investment Advisors, Michael Barrington-Hibbert, founder and managing partner of Barrington Hibbert Associates, and Wol Kolade, managing partner of Livingbridge.
Impetus comes from a study by New Financial in 2018 which found that there were only 12 Black portfolio managers in the entire UK investment management industry.
Its coordinators say the programme has attracted firms from all parts of the industry, including long-only and hedge funds, private equity, credit and real estate managers, as well consultants and pension funds.
“We felt we wanted to do something really tangible to build a bench of compelling Black talent in our industry for the long-term," said Capstone president, Jonathan Sorrell. "By providing such a special entry point into portfolio management, we hope to attract great Black students to a career path they may not have otherwise contemplated."
During over 20 years of working in the City, Redington's Konotey-Ahulu said, “I have rarely come across anyone who looks like me. It is so powerful that the investment management industry has agreed to help welcome more Black talent into our industry,” he said.
It hardly needs stating that the move comes at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has made institutions and governments take stock of their policies for race and equality.
Another founder working in private equity, Wol Kolade, said that industry support for the initiative has been “absolutely terrific," pitching that if other firms not contacted yet can provide an internship, “they are very welcome to join.”
The group is inviting Black university students from any academic discipline and from any year group, including those on gap years and those who have graduated since 2019, to apply.
Applications, including a one-page CV and cover letter (up to 400 words), should be submitted by 13 November for internships taking place in the summer of 2021 for a minimum of six weeks.
Michael Barrington-Hibbert, founder and managing partner at the eponymous executive search firm covering the financial sector, said: “We want as many applications as possible from Black university students... who might be interested in a career managing investments. This is a really unique opportunity to gain exposure to the role at one of the world’s leading firms.”