The initiative aims to facilitate 10,000 paid internships over the next five years for black students in Higher Education in the UK across a range of sectors, including accountancy, law, marketing, advertising, data science and now research.

“Research struggles to attract diverse talent,” says Babita Earle, Chair of the MRS DI&E Council and EVP Strategic Partnerships at Zappi. “The DI&E Council are working through a number of big issues, which will take time to make an impact - such as the Apprenticeship in Market Research - so in parallel we want grassroots partnerships that will help us start seeding change and opening up our sector so that anyone, regardless of who they are, feel they belong.”

#10000BlackInterns was founded in August 2020 and companies interested in taking part must offer paid work experience placements providing training and development opportunities and creating a sustainable cycle of mentorship for the black community. The first wave of internships should start in the winter of 2021/2022 and/or the summer of 2022. 

Full details of what is involved and how to register are available here.

“We know that diversity breeds creativity and we also know that you ‘cannot be what you cannot see’,” says Sinead Hasson, MD of Hasson Associates Recruitment, who has been working closely with the DI&E Council to engage the research sector with #10000BlackInterns. “I hope that by backing this initiative we are taking a really important step in improving the diversity in our MR community.”

Along with Ipsos, Basis Research have been one of the first research agencies to sign up. Their CEO Rune Mortenson says: “We’ve all recognised that as an industry, we have a long way to go in tackling the lack of diversity across all levels, and that to do so in a meaningful way will involve a collaborative effort. Signing up to #10,000BlackInterns is a brilliant start, helping to drive awareness of research as a profession at entry level.”

Yonder (formerly Populus) have also signed up. Their CEO Michael Simmonds says: “We are determined to be a truly diverse and inclusive business. We serve our clients best when we bring different perspectives, understanding and experience to tackle their challenges. We want to take a lead in helping to tackle under-representation and in opening doors.”

Kenny Imafidon, Managing Director of ClearView Research and the DI&E Council member who forged the relationship with #10000BlackInterns, says: “This is an initiative that we as an industry should be rushing to be involved in. We all recognise (unless you're sleeping under a rock) that diversity and inclusion in research is far behind what it should be. As an industry that serves a global and diverse population, we are hardly representative of the general population. #10000BlackInterns opens up routes for young black people who have an abundance of talent but lack the opportunity to gain (paid) valuable experience and development due to systemic racism and other barriers. We have an opportunity here to provide equity and opportunity to those who need it and we should all play our part to be part of the change we wish to see.”

Jane Frost, CEO of MRS, concludes: “One of the things that we know is critical to successful people is networking, this is an extremely practical initiative to seek to provide those network opportunities to those for whom access had previously been out of reach. It benefits companies in research and insight by providing a route to talent and voices we have historically found difficult to reach “

More information about #10000BlackInterns and how to participate in the initiative can be found here.

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