1 June

She Can Be - Empowering young women for the future

On Thursday 27th May alongside a collection of City businesses we hosted our She Can Be event, a day that gives young women from years 10 to 13 from networks across Place2Be, OnSide Youth Zones, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Teach First, the chance to learn first-hand about a variety of careers in the City.

The She Can Be initiative aims to empower young women to make informed decisions about their careers to see the City as not only a viable, but an exciting career option for them. We want young women to be inspired to join the City workforce and our event helps them to realise and polish the skills that they already have, building confidence, and learning how those skills transfer into the City.

This year we chose to embrace digital to enable more young women to be able to access the ideas, inspiration and support that this innovative initiative provides. 

The full day event was split into morning and afternoon sessions with the morning consisting of representatives from the businesses visiting (virtually or in person) the young women in their schools or youth zones to have them learn about their businesses, through a collection of talks from employees, Q&A panels and immersive activities. This year some of groups took part in activities like creating social media adverts, looking at marketing budgets and myth-busting games about careers in the City 

For the afternoon session participants were able to dial into our virtual event platform, Hopin, where they took part in a problem-solving activity, alongside businesses, as well as then being treated to a Q&A panel with three fantastic young business people. 

The panel was chaired by Onyinye Udokporo, an entrepreneur, educator, public speaker, writer and pioneer of social mobility. She hosted the event taking participants through the tasks, as well as explaining about her own business success and how she got started in her career. 

A great inspiration to others, Onyinye set up her own tuition business aged just 12 and in 2018 she founded Enrich Learning, an online education platform and private tuition service. She also hosted our Q&A panel where our attendees got to ask our panellists anything they wanted about careers, work life and address any worries they might have.

We were thrilled to welcome to our panel Margarita Skarkou who is Vice President and founder member of Barclays Ventures, currently leading on strategic innovation and venture investing in the ESG and Sustainability space. Named as one of Brummell’s Inspirational Women in 2019 and 2020 Margarita is passionate about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. She was able to offer the young women some great advice for starting their careers, driving home the fact you don’t have to wait for opportunities to come to you, that you can very much go and make them yourselves. She also talked about why she liked working in the City so much, commenting on the huge variety and diversity you can find in this area. 

Male ally Henry Odogwu, who is currently Head of UK Institutional Sales, iShares & Wealth at BlackRock also joined the panel. He has nearly 20 years’ experience in the financial services profession and often speaks regularly on diversity and inclusion as a topic. He discussed with the young women the power of networking and meeting new people, as well as the opportunity the City holds for everyone. There was much discussion around the best route to get into your chosen career and how to make the most of the skills you have. 

The session was rounded up with our young women being asked to create a future pledge to themselves. We asked them to think about their future, where they would like to be and make a promise to themselves that they can reach their goal. Our pledge cards are a great way to round up the day and inspire everyone who has taken part. 

With around 350 young women logging on for our afternoon event we hope that everyone who attended enjoyed the day as much as we did and are inspired for their future careers in the City.  

We want to say a big thank you to all the businesses who took time out their day to take part and also our co-sponsor #IncludedAWM, a pan-organisation network championing diversity and inclusion in the Asset and Wealth Management industry, led by Phoebe Stone of LGT Vestra.

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