19 March

City businesses host 280 students for We Can Be 2024

The Square Mile hosted 280 young people for We Can Be 2024, allowing them to gain an exclusive glimpse into some of The City’s most prominent businesses. Part of The Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s aim to create A Better City For All, the annual initiative matches 18 schools from London and Suffolk with 18 corporates and invites them to spend a day learning the skills they might need to succeed.

In a society where young women believe they do not have the same chances in business as their male counterparts, We Can Be aims to boost young women’s confidence in their abilities by equipping them with the tools to consider careers in the City, if they want one. Timed to coincide with International Women’s Day and National Careers Week, the day-long event included morning sessions at the schools’ chosen business and an afternoon finale at Guildhall London.

Empowering young women to make informed decisions about their careers, businesses including Schroders, Linklaters, Janus Henderson, and Standard Chartered Bank played host to students from schools across London and UK boroughs.

The morning workshops varied from CV and cover letter tips to speed networking with law graduates to round-table discussions on sexism in the workplace. One aim of the sessions is to hear from the young women on any perceived hurdles to working in The City such as background and helping to bust those myths. Students were introduced to new schemes aimed to diversify recruitment pools and to company leaders from a range of socio-economic backgrounds.

On her We Can Be experience, one student said,

“Today has made me a lot more confident. I wasn't quite sure about how to get into a career in the City but going into the offices and seeing the different kinds of people and hearing their stories, has made me a lot more optimistic. I think my favourite thing was the chance to ask question and hear professional experiences. Especially the panel in the afternoon, because some of the speakers came from different backgrounds and seeing how high they are in their fields now was very inspiring to me.”  

In the afternoon, 280 students and almost 100 representatives from The City met at London Guildhall for the We Can Be 2024 finale. The session was hosted by Zoe Garshong, founder of the award-winning social enterprise Ms Independent Careers and included a key-note speech from Joanna Taylor, Head of Credit Risk Systems Development at Rabobank.

Zoe shared insights into her career pathway as an economics graduate and how her experiences lead to a commitment in supporting entrepreneurs and helping them navigate the complexities of the business world. Joanna surprised many of the young women revealing she had reached the top of her field without a degree. As a seasoned professional in the world of finance with 25 years’ experience, she reassured the students that determination, commitment and a desire to learn were the key factors in her reaching senior status as one of the Product Owners for the Foreign Exchange, Money Markets & Rates area at Rabobank. 

Hoping to show the visiting students that they already possess many of the skills needed to work in the Square Mile, they were taken through a ‘managing a portfolio simulation’ moderated by The Lord Mayor’s Appeal charity partner National Numeracy; followed by a final ask to write a pledge card. Ranging from personal promises to becoming CEO of a City bank, these pledges were the last chance to show these bright young women that by raising their aspirations, they can smash their own stigma around succeeding. 

Tori Monks, Partnership Manager at National Numeracy said, 

“National Numeracy shares We Can Be’s belief that empowering young women to make informed decisions about their careers can be transformative, both personally and professionally. Our charity’s mission is to improve how people understand and work with numbers in day-to-day life – sparking better opportunities and brighter futures. Over a third of women in the UK (38%) say they would be put off applying for a job they were interested if it listed “using numbers and data” as a requirement. Poor numeracy and a lack of number confidence is limiting women’s careers, earnings, progression and lives. That’s why we were delighted to take part in We Can Be’s inspiring event, inspiring young women to feel confident in the City, a place where they are supported to develop and thrive.”

We Can Be 2024 was sponsored by Evelyn Partners, LGT Wealth Management, City of London Community Infrastructure Levy Neighbourhood Fund and EC Business Improvement District.

Find out more or sign up to We Can Be 2025 here

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