The fact that the Powerlist Foundation Deloitte Leadership Programme (PFDLP) is always oversubscribed is testament to how popular it has become in a relatively short time.
The evidence is that African and African-Caribbean millennials are way behind in the pecking order when attempting to get quality jobs after graduating. The Macpherson report (1999) although highlighting the failings of the police and judicial system after the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, also pinpointed institutionalised racism in every strata of British society, including the education and corporate system. Thousands leaving university often have to compromise their talent and ambitions just to get a foot on the corporate ladder.
Leadership programmes are vital for millennials and PFDLP mentors, trustees and ambassadors are giving back to allow alumni the best possible chance when starting working life. Thankfully, other influential people have taken the initiative to create leadership programmes. Last month Baroness McGregor-Smith, the CEO of Mitie Group, a strategic outsourcing company based in Bristol, held the first of a series of events aiming to increase the numbers from minority backgrounds in management roles and running their own businesses. She started the series with the right idea, inviting publishers, editors and directors of media outlets from the black, Asian and minority ethnic community. Getting the message out that leadership programmes are needed to helping graduating millennials progress into the level of working environment that complements their talent and academic excellence, is an obvious issue. But there are not enough of them.
Baroness McGregor-Smith said, “I am delighted to be leading this review. It has never been more important to fully capitalise on the skills and talents of every individual in the workplace, regardless of their background.” PFDLP alumni are certainly getting that opportunity.
Rachael Owhin is a prime example. She attended the first PFDLP in 2011 and until then had assumed that after graduating from university she would do the orthodox thing and find a corporate job in the UK and work her way up steadily until hitting the glass ceiling – or possibly shattering it if she was lucky.
After attending the PFDLP, meeting mentors who had needed to take a different path to succeed and peers who did not necessarily have conventional ideas about their careers, Rachael was inspired and her options multiplied. She forged a close bond with Veronica Martin and through that connection and others she met through the Powerlist Foundation, Rachael is now teaching English in Nigerian government schools in Lagos. She absolutely loves it and sees this sort of vocational career as her long-term future. Her story is typical of the sort of trajectory PFDLP alumni have taken. More leadership programmes for disadvantaged millennials are essential; the PFDLP has introduced a model likely to be duplicated. It has plenty of scope to expand and in the future many high-achievers will credit their time at the PFDLP as a crucial stage in their development.