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London, 17 March 2022 - Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) London has today announced a three-year partnership with Barclays to help more than 400 graduates from Black and ethnically diverse communities across the UK, with a focus on tackling socio-economic inequality, to secure meaningful jobs.

With more than 20 years of experience in working with and preparing young people for career success, diversity-focused charity SEO London recognises that graduates from underrepresented backgrounds are still missing out on opportunities to access rewarding employment.

Through its newly launched Beyond Barriers programme, funded by Barclays, SEO London hopes to level the playing field for these graduates who have not yet secured suitable full-time employment since finishing university.

The six-month programme will provide participants with personalised support to boost their confidence, help them think creatively about their career and improve their employability skills. The first cohort of 60 graduates joined the programme earlier this month, and will have access to tailored employability boot camps, online career support including Barclays LifeSkills resources, and a mentor. They will also receive regular support from SEO London to help them secure a suitable and fulfilling job in the role and industry of their choice. Applications will open twice a year for new cohorts, in January and May.

Kingsley Onah, Director, Equities, Barclays who has been an SEO London alumnus since 2006, praised the influence SEO London had on his career: “The support given to me by SEO London was fantastic, particularly from an educational, mentoring and network building perspective. Just as their internship kick-started my career, I’m delighted to see that a new generation of graduates will benefit from this partnership with Barclays.”

The partnership signifies a new milestone for Barclays and SEO London, whose relationship spans over 15 years, and enables Barclays to deliver the community aspects of their Race at Work action plan, which includes a focus on improving access to career and development opportunities for Black and ethnically diverse people.

“As part of our Race at Work ambitions, attracting and retaining diverse talent is a top priority” says Azura Mason, Global Head of Race at Work, Barclays. “The Beyond Barriers programme will not only help us to drive this progress for ourselves, but it will also provide other organisations with access to new talent pools and help drive social change.”

Andrew Fairbairn, SEO London founder and CEO, said: “SEO London’s new Beyond Barriers programme is an important extension of the charity’s platform, serving young people from underserved communities across the UK. In partnership with Barclays, SEO London has created a new opportunity set to maximise the employability of recent graduates who are not yet employed or are under-employed relative to their capabilities.”

Kirstie Mackey, Managing Director, UK Citizenship, Barclays, said: “At Barclays, we’re committed to enhancing social inclusion in our communities, with a particular focus on upskilling and creating pathways into work for Black and ethnically diverse people through our Race at Work action plan. We’re incredibly proud to be partnering with SEO London to support our shared aim to get talented graduates into meaningful employment through impactful programmes that promote social equity.”

Marissa Charles, Senior programme manager for Beyond Barriers, SEO London adds: “We know there is more that can be done to improve diversity in the workplace and narrow the divide between graduates from diverse backgrounds and their white peers. I hope to see Beyond Barriers help underrepresented graduates to build their confidence and start them on their journey to a successful and meaningful career.”

“The Beyond Barriers programme is for students who show they can perform at a high level, but who need an extra lift to propel their entry into the workforce. SEO London is proud to contribute to such an endeavour, and ultimately fulfil our vision of a society where everyone, regardless of background, has equal opportunity to achieve long-term professional and personal success,” concluded Andrew Fairbairn, SEO London founder and CEO.


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