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image of students | accountingweb | How firms are fostering DEI through school outreach programmes

Firms are fostering DEI by engaging with schools


As the deadline for this year’s Accounting Excellence Awards approaches, Molly Macfarlane looks at the Pride Award for DEI and sees how firms are embedding diversity through their engagement with local schools.

3rd Jun 2024
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The Accounting Excellence Awards entries from last year’s Pride Award for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) showed a common trend – an engagement with local schools. 

FD Works, winner of last year’s award, and finalists, Bee Motion Accounting Limited and Saga plc all embedded DEI in their firm through their work and engagement with schools.

From work experience and apprenticeships to workshops and mentoring, their approach not only ensures a sense of responsibility and social awareness within these firms but also helps build inclusive communities and provides equitable opportunities to all students. 

Arranging work experience 

Bee Motion prides itself on partnering with schools to offer work experience to students. The practice supports students with autism and Down’s syndrome in securing work placements. 

They have established a relationship with a local additional-needs school. After the school mentioned how workplaces were unwilling to provide opportunities to their students, Bee Motion wanted to ensure that every student had the chance to gain valuable experience. 

George Moss, the practice manager at Bee Motion said: “When our work experience students come in, it’s more than just accountancy, they leave with more of an insight into the general world we live in.”

Their goal is to assist students during their transition to college and to provide work placements throughout their education. 

Moss emphasised the importance of taking on students regardless of their knowledge or ability level, helping give experiences to those who may not have had access to these opportunities before.

Organising workshops and talks

Both FD Works and Saga organise workshops and talks for students, offering insight and guidance into accountancy and finance as a potential career path.

FD Works’ commitment extends to a school outreach programme that involves reaching out to schools in disadvantaged areas. Through this initiative, they engage students in discussions about various career options, including finance, marketing and apprenticeships. 

As well as this, they take part in mock interview sessions and offer informal mentoring for young women who are interested in a finance career.

Saga similarly visits schools and communities but focuses on talking about DEI. Their outreach efforts look at attracting more women and individuals from underrepresented backgrounds into a finance career. 

By actively promoting DEI principles through their workshops and talks, Saga aims to create a more inclusive and equitable culture within the finance industry.

Offering apprenticeships 

All three firms show a strong commitment to supporting students and their career development through apprenticeship programmes. 

Bee Motion revealed that they actively promote apprenticeship programmes, recognising them as a valuable pathway for school leavers to gain practical experience and skills. 

Similarly, FD Works has focused its investment on apprenticeships and emphasised the importance of providing training and learning opportunities. 

Saga has started a school-leaver and apprenticeship scheme, expanding their efforts to provide entry points into the workplace for young people. 

Saga said that they work with an outreach programme to ensure equity and inclusivity in the onboarding process. They further mentioned that the firm offers monthly workshops to the apprentices, providing ongoing support and opportunities for skill development. 

By actively engaging with schools and the broader community, all three firms demonstrate a commitment to creating inclusive environments where everyone has access to opportunities for personal and professional growth. 

Do you have a DEI strategy that you or your firm are proud of? Enter the Pride Award for DEI here