Gold Oyelade is 22 years old and recently graduated from Warwick University. He has already secured a job in investment banking.
Through a program called 10,000 Black Interns, Gold was offered an internship at City firm Evercore.
The program, which aims to help create future black business leaders, has just announced 2,000 places at top companies are up for grabs.
Gold states that Black people are often underrepresented in senior business positions.
Gold believes Evercore cares a lot about its people, but prior to joining 10,000 Black Interns, she discovered there were barriers that prevented her from getting into the firms.
Gold was born in Brixton and raised there. Despite attending a Russell Group university she found it difficult for her and her black friends to obtain internships that they saw their white peers getting with greater ease.
She says, “I have to prove myself.” “We don’t seem to be as qualified on paper. That hasn’t helped us in getting internships.”
She says that part of this was due to the lack of a network. They didn’t know enough people.
She says that “Your network is your net worth” is alive and well and can be a detriment to those who haven’t had the opportunity or don’t know someone who is in a leadership role in the company.”
She says that a lack of black leaders can affect people’s confidence when trying to get into companies.
She says, “We don’t see people like ourselves in these firms to feel welcome or good enough to be there.”
She says that businesses should also examine their attitudes towards black interns, particularly those who come from working-class backgrounds.
She says that there is a possibility that some young black people don’t have the skills or aren’t prepared for these jobs. “The notion that we aren’t good enough must be discarded.”
She says, “It is not common for black people to be high-achieving places. But we have the potential to be there.” “Black people can do anything – all you have to do is give them a chance.”
Gold stated that 10,000 Black Interns will “make a difference” in the perceptions of blacks about their business opportunities and how they are perceived.
She says, “It is now for us to keep these roles, grow so that we are creating the opportunity for others to follow.” “It is our duty to persevere, to work hard, and to believe that this is possible.”
The 10,000 Black Interns program aims to place 2,000 interns each year in companies that have been open for at least five years.
According to Esther Odejimi Uzokwe, programme director, the initiative was started by 100 Black Interns and grew due to interest from businesses.
Organizations ranging from City firms such as Goldman Sachs and HSBC through to tech giants Amazon, Facebook and Google and sporting giants such as Manchester United are on board.
Ms. Odejimi Uzokwe states that the programme is necessary to create future black leaders in London and elsewhere.
She stated that George Floyd’s murder and the impetus for the Black Lives Matter movement meant that many companies had “a lightbulb” moment and that diversity was a top corporate priority.
Ms Odejimi Uzokwe was born in East London and raised with a Nigerian background. She said that she grew up without any money.
She was able to secure a spot at Oxford University, where she could pursue her passion for theology and religion. From there, she moved into the City, working at Goldman Sachs.
She saw firsthand how black people were underrepresented in finance and decided to do her part to change this.
She says, “In the world that we live in, how the system is set up allows you to walk through a trading platform and not see any black faces.”
However, there are some black people who manage to get into top financial positions.
Justin Onuekwusi is the head of multi-asset retail funds at Legal & General Investment Management. He also works to increase diversity and inclusion within UK businesses.
He was raised in a single-parent family and was born in Manchester’s inner city. He says, “Growing up was difficult.”
His mother was a teacher so there was always an emphasis on education. He says, “I was good in maths, good school, and I did economics at University of Warwick.”
Onuekwusi explains that he attributes his success in climbing the corporate ladder to luck and hard work.
He said that he “always had really solid sponsorship” throughout his career, which included stints with Aviva and Bank of America, as well as LGIM.
However, he said he has “had barriers” in City, including feeling like an outcast.
He says, “I had to get out of my comfort zone in order to build relationships.”
There are also daily challenges in the City.
He says, “There are many micro-aggressions that you have to deal with.” I still get misunderstood as a security guard.
He once went to a company to give a presentation to funding managers and poured coffee for himself as well as a lady.