As Pride month celebrates its 50th anniversary, leading UK education business Career Accelerator is shining a light on how it is supporting the LGBTQ+ community through its innovative LGBT+ business mentoring programme.
The programme provides businesses with meaningful volunteering opportunities for employees and helps them become inclusive places for LGBT+ professionals to thrive.
Companies including Cisco, Ocado, GoCardless, JLL, Pearson, Snapchat and Salesforce have taken part in the programme with their employees mentoring young LGBT+ people.
According to Stonewall[i] 45% of young people are bullied for being LGBT+ at school and half of bullied LGBT+ pupils feel that bullying has had a negative effect on their plans for future education. LGBT+ young people’s assumptions about how safe or inclusive a workplace is can significantly narrow the employment and career paths they feel are open to them. Other research by Vodafone[ii] found that 41% of 18-25 year olds have gone ‘back into the closet’ within their first year of employment for fear of discrimination.
Mayur Gupta, CEO at Career Accelerator said: “LGBT+ young people face some barriers when starting professional careers – they may have encountered LGBT+ related bullying at school, there may be a lack of LGBT+ business role models and difficulty accessing LGBT+ tailored career support. We are working with forward thinking companies to help them overcome some of these issues by supporting 18-30 year old LGBT+ people to learn about LGBT+ inclusive job opportunities, build their LGBT+ network and make informed career choices and steps to achieve these. By working with us, companies are taking a pioneering approach in supporting LGBT+ young people when they are at an age where LGBT+ inclusive career support can have the most impact on their career trajectory. They are helping contribute to the growing pool of LGBT+ talent who will become the LGBT+ business leaders of tomorrow.”
Ocado has partnered with Career Accelerator for a few years, and recently took part in the LGBT+ mentoring programme with five employees as mentors, including Elise Tyler, Global Listening & Engagement Specialist in the Global Culture & Engagement Team at Ocado.
Elise said: “I am co-chair of the Pride leadership group – a group that was started by our logistics team in 2017. After hearing the heart-breaking statistic about how many young people go back into the closet within their first year of employment for fear of discrimination, I was determined our organisation would take part in the programme.
“It’s been hugely successful, and we’ve all learnt a great deal. As mentors we learnt about the different experiences and perspectives from people about to enter the workforce. It has made us consider how we present ourselves to the world and how we can promote the business as a good place to work by listening to what young people want and value.
“My mentee is a law student at Cambridge, and we’ve spent a lot of time discussing authenticity, leadership and DE&I. I encouraged them to always research a company’s commitment to DE&I as it will give them insight into whether it’s the type of organisation they want to work for. They hadn’t considered doing this, but this will enable them to hopefully find a workplace that reflects their values and will accept them for who they are.
“I’d highly recommend the programme as both employees and the business gain such a lot. As mentors, we learnt by connecting with some remarkable young people we would never normally meet which can help shape what we do. This will influence our recruitment and marketing initiatives, but also possibly bring new people into the business. Having the opportunity to recruit more diverse people is a good thing.”
Real estate company JLL has also benefitted from the programme. They were introduced to the initiative by employee Rico Naylor, a Graduate Surveyor who participated in the programme as a mentee. Rico recommended the programme internally and five more employees from JLL have since become mentors on the programme.
Rico said: “I was assigned a mentor from Snapchat and found it a very insightful experience and a great way to grow my network. The world of technology is far more advanced in DE&I than the property sector, so it was a great learning opportunity for my future role. My mentor encouraged me to always check the DE&I credentials of any organisation I was considering working at. This served me well and I was impressed when I found out that not only is JLL committed to improving the workplace for underrepresented groups, but it is also one of Stonewell’s[iii] top 100 LGBT+ inclusive employers. It made me feel very reassured that JLL is a great place to work. As a gay person of colour, it was important I worked somewhere I would feel welcome.”
“Investing in programmes like this should be top of every company’s agenda as it offers a unique way to encourage diverse thinking and improve employee diversity. Being supportive of LGBT+ people isn’t just about putting a rainbow sticker on things; it’s about demonstrating commitment. The workplace can be a scary place to navigate but by being involved with this programme it enabled our mentors to give young people starting out the tools and knowledge that there are organisations like JLL where they will feel supported and will fit in.”
Career Accelerator’s LGBT+ programme runs in collaboration with PinkNews Futures and National Student Pride to support 18-30 year old LGBT+ people prepare for careers in the modern economy, through 1:1 business mentoring led by LGBT+ mentors at LGBT+ inclusive companies.
This consists of a 1 hour training session, and 3 x 1 hour mentoring sessions over 3 months. Career Accelerator selects the LGBT+ mentees, trains the mentors and mentees, supports with session ideas and puts together impact reports for the business. To find out how to get involved, click here.
For more information on Career Accelerator visit: www.careeraccelerator.io
About Career Accelerator:
Career Accelerator is an education organisation supporting 14-30 year olds from underserved backgrounds to prepare for top jobs in professional sectors through mentorship led by professionals at top businesses. They run three programmes: a schools programme supporting 14-18 year old students from lower socio economic backgrounds; an LGBT+ programme supporting 18-30 year old LGBT+ young people and a Neurodiversity and Disability programme focusing on 14-25 year olds from lower socio economic backgrounds with special educational needs and disabilities.
They work with 30state schools across England, the UK’s three leading LGBT+ career conferences and 20 corporates. They work with young LGBT+ people, aged 18-30, who receive professional mentoring from staff from corporate partners. They also work with employee volunteers at partner companies who they train up to be impactful and empathetic mentors and who work with young people over three months. In 2021/22 the number of business mentors across the programmes was approximately 500.