News & Articles

Championing diversity and nurturing talent

The unemployment rate in the UK soared between August and October this year, reaching 4.9%1 - the highest it has been since 2016.
6 January, 2021

The unemployment rate in the UK soared between August and October this year, reaching 4.9%1 – the highest it has been since 2016. With the impact of COVID-19 to contend with, many young people found themselves out of work, or their face-to-face training ground to a halt. Nurturing young talent and getting young people into work has never been so vital. 

Additionally, recognising the benefits of a more inclusive workforce is extremely important. However, most people still find it difficult to talk about race and ethnicity, particularly in the workplace. This is indicative of the work to be done when championing diversity in a business environment. 

There are many impressive brands with forward-thinking entrepreneurs at the helm in the UK working to create opportunities for young people and implementing inclusivity solutions for businesses. Two such entrepreneurs explained why it is so important that, once in the workplace, people feel engaged and have opportunities for progression, no matter their age, background or ethnicity.

OneFile aims to keep young people in the workplace by improving engagement of apprenticeship and vocational training. With rates of unemployment rising across the UK, brands that can provide solutions are vital. Susanna Lawson, co-founder of OneFile, has always been passionate about helping others, whether that’s the young people she employs or getting long-term unemployed people back into the workplace. The apprenticeship scheme has been around for many years but OneFile has capitalised on the demand to bring training for apprenticeships and vocational careers into the 21st century.

“We launched OneFile because we could see there were huge inefficiencies in the way that apprenticeships and vocational training were being delivered. We could see that using technology would make the process more cost-effective, improve quality and also increase engagement from the learners, which means they are more likely to stay on and complete their programmes. We’re always striving to make a conscious effort to support those in our community,” said Susanna.

“We had to understand the challenges our customers were facing this year in order to support them. We were able to provide additional webinars and training to suit their needs during lockdown for their users. In an everchanging marketplace, sharing guidance across business owners and entrepreneurs on how to survive a business-critical situation like the pandemic has presented is vital, so I welcome every opportunity to do just that.”

A diverse workforce creates a strong brand however in the UK, Black and Asian employees are more likely to be overqualified than their white counter parts, but white employees are more likely to be promoted than all other groups2. Aggie Mutuma, CEO of Mahogany Inclusion Partners, works with businesses to create effective inclusion solutions to build working cultures where everyone can thrive.

“At Mahogany Inclusion Partners, we deliver engaging, practical and flexible inclusion solutions that are right for each business we work with. We are specialists in organisation inclusion stately, leadership team inclusion engagement, managing race in the workplace and engaging black talent. Whether organisations need full-scale inclusion strategies or one-off bespoke sessions, we work with leaders to deliver solutions that have a positive impact,” said Aggie.

“We act as a business partner on a company’s inclusion journey; providing inclusion solutions and strategic HR delivery across various industries. Our effective programmes have worked for numerous organisations, with the likes of McDonald’s, Tesco and Lloyd’s Register implementing our strategies. It’s really important we take every opportunity to raise awareness of the opportunity and engagement that inclusion brings to the workplace, no matter the sector a business operates in.”

Elite Business Live is an annual national conference, running on 11th and 12th March, in 2021 transforming to virtual registration to cater for the business community due to COVID-19 restrictions. Aggie and Susanna will both be part of the line-up of experts, imparting their knowledge on nurturing talent and championing diversity in the workplace. Visit to register for your free place.

1 Office of National Statistics 
2 Baroness McGregor-Smith, 2017, “Review of race in the workplace”