Full article published 23.10.2017 on SBNN.
Scots supermodel, Eunice Olumide, is to be the keynote speaker at a new initiative to support return-to-work opportunities for ethnic minority women in Scotland.
The Adopt an Intern (AAI) events launch in Glasgow on Friday 27 October and will be addressed by Scottish Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn. Further events are to be held in Edinburgh (3 November) and Aberdeen (10 November) with free employability workshops to follow and returnship opportunities from the likes of Diageo and Highland Spring.
Born in Edinburgh from a Nigerian background, Olumide has a passionate interest in the gender pay divide and employment opportunities for ethnic minorities. She has a portfolio of businesses involved in art, publishing, film, television and her own clothing and accessories range using materials sourced from poor parts of Africa and India.
AAI has facilitated 1400 paid internships, including returnships, since founding in 2009, with 13.5% of all applicants classing themselves as coming from a Black or Minority Ethnic (BME) background. AAI’s work to date has focused predominantly on the young graduate population seeking employment opportunities but it has always had interest from returners over 30 years of age.
AAI will partner with Community Interest Company, Radiant and Brighter in this new Scottish Government-supported initiative. Founded by Michael and Pheona Matovu, after experiencing years of unemployment as a result of immigration controls, it has gained a reputation for successfully working with BME communities/groups to integrate people into the work place.
Joy Lewis, Chief Executive of AAI, said:
“The BME community is under-represented in workplaces throughout Scotland. The community faces issues around cultural barriers, unconscious bias in recruitment, discrimination in the workplace, religious and faith issues, language, accents, overseas qualifications and uncertainty around a right to work.
“Allied to this, women returning to work are clearly disadvantaged. At 22 the pay gap is minimal but, 4-5 years later it has already begun to stretch and then widens throughout the first decade. By 29 there is a definite divide as 30-40 year olds have their families. When they try and return, their sector often cannot accommodate a need for part-time working so they go to another sector where their skills are under-utilised. They seldom go back to the original sector. This in turn can create a loss of confidence and they naturally lose their original skillset.
“For minority ethnic women, the disadvantages experienced in terms of both gender and race intersect to create extra barriers, which need to be tackled. They are in a unique position in employment and society.
“Our workshops will allow participants to examine strategies that support personal and work-based confidence and resilience when dealing with issues related to extended absence. They will examine the wider contextual issues that impact on BME women in the workplace, how to develop goal-oriented behaviour, and are ultimately geared towards a successful return to meaningful employment”.
AAI is a not-for-profit company committed to creating a fair and transparent paid internship culture in Scotland. It has worked with over 800 businesses drawn from across the Scottish economy and in every sector and of all sizes. It has worked with women struggling to return to the workplace after a career break and supports them by allowing them access to flexible working which supports their care commitments. It counsels BME graduates on residency status, right to work and tax issues. It has a history of opening up more opportunities for flexible working to women, challenging discrimination and ensuring equal pay.