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On Thursday 13 February The Lord Mayor’s Appeal ran their largest She Can Be… to date. She Can Be… was born of the statistic that 64% of young women between the ages of 17 and 21 believed that, all being equal, a man would be hired over a woman (Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2016). The Lord Mayor’s Appeal found this really disappointing, being in a fortunate position to see all of the great work that City businesses are doing to make their workplaces more inclusive for women.

She Can Be… is a day to celebrate that.

In the morning 25 businesses from across the City hosted around 300 young women (age 15-18 in their offices, giving them a taster of what life is like in the City, and inspiring them to consider a career there. The young women were from schools that partner with OnSide Youth Zones, Place2Be and Teach First and they learned more about each business, taking part in immersive workshops that illustrate how those businesses functions and highlight the kinds of women that work there. There was also fun including spaghetti challenges and special feminist biscuits!

In the afternoon the groups came together at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, joined by City employees both from companies that they visited in the morning and a few further organisations keen to show their commitment to the gender agenda, for a packed programme intended to inspire participants to consider roles in the City and change their perceptions. They took part in a trading simulation, asked questions of a panel, and left having pledged to take one step in their journey to a career that works for them.

They heard from Anu Panesar, Marketing & Operations Director at Aspiring Panda and Co-Founder of Aspiring Women (Chair of the afternoon session), Phoebe Stone, LGT Vestra (sponsor as part of #includedAWM), Jagdeep Rai, Regional Director for South and East within the Commercial Banking business at HSBC (speaking as a Senior Leader on the panel), Pelumi Ojo, Project Manager at Aon (speaking as a Real Model on the panel), Byron Spring, Pro Bono Coordinator at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (speaking as a Male Ally on the panel).

Katie Yates is Programme Manager for She Can Be… and says “She Can Be... connects young women to businesses and exposes them to roles that they might never have known existed. This is so powerful because it opens up doors to different career paths and empowers them to make more informed decisions about what they’d like to do in the future.”

Caroline Wright, Chief Executive Officer of The Lord Mayor’s Appeal agrees. "She Can Be... is an inspiring and engaging day that empowers young women and businesses to learn more and challenge perceptions about who the City is meant for. We’re thrilled to have support from many corporate companies and their employees, and grateful for them to have taken their time to share skills.”

She Can Be… is kindly co-sponsored by #includedAWM, a pan-organisation network championing diversity and inclusion in the Asset and Wealth Management industry, led by Phoebe Stone of LGT Vestra.

Although She Can Be… operates with inclusivity at its heart, the initiative formally falls under The Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s ‘Skills’ pillar which targets the barriers that contribute to the skills crisis.

For more information head here.