23 October 20

#100blackinterns: the importance of representation

Growing up, my parents encouraged me to become whatever I wanted. Whether it was a lawyer, a banker or an astronaut, I could be it if I worked hard and stayed focused. For some, the formula is that simple while for others it is not. It is complicated by covert factors that affect and alter the everyday reality of life.

One of these factors which is often overlooked is representation. It is a powerful thing to see someone who looks like you, in a position you aspire to reach. Not only does it show you a path of success, but it also sharpens your focus, instilling a belief that you too can reach that position. I vividly remember how my first black teacher at school made a subject in which I initially had no interest seem more interesting and intriguing. I also remember attending a Banking & Finance event where one of the speakers on the panel was black. The sense of encouragement and belief I felt leaving that event still fuels my ambition today. Representation is a huge factor in what we all think is possible for ourselves.

The same holds true in the Investment Industry. Seeing someone who looks like you, making investment decisions and pitching to key decision-makers, encourages you to believe that you can do the same.

What the #100BlackInterns initiative does is address the under-representation of black people in what is traditionally a white dominated space. Rather than simply attempting to level the playing field - blind CVs or relaxing entry requirements - this initiative actively addresses under-representation, developing a new generation of professionals in the Investment Industry; pushing for those making investment decisions to better represent the society we live in.

Firms should pay attention to the support framework they place around their intern. The framework should provide the intern with both a manager and mentor who will nurture, advise and develop them, as well as encourage and allow time for relationship building with those in different teams. It should be a framework that pushes the intern towards what each firm defines as success. The support framework around the intern is just as important as the decision of which intern to choose.

My words to the applicants, whether successful or otherwise, is that you have taken the first important step into the industry. Network and connect with those you meet along the way, other interns included. Approach every task with a positive, can-do attitude and when the time comes, remember to give back to future cohorts. Be the representation you would have wanted when you were in their position.

I am very proud that my organisation, Triple Point, has decided to get involved with the #100BlackInterns initiative. Since joining in 2019, the business has given me opportunities to develop, progress and be entrepreneurial. I look forward to warmly welcoming the candidate who is chosen, as a result of the #100BlackInterns initiative, to be a part of Triple Point’s growing, welcoming and exciting business.

This article was written by Triple Point's Nathan Craig