A Chat with Katerina Rüdiger, CEO at Social Mobility Charity: The Brokerage

The Brokerage is a social mobility charity committed to breaking the corporate mould.  For nearly 25 years it has supported thousands of less-advantaged young people, many of whom are from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds, to achieve their career potential; providing opportunities and helping them take their first step into a professional career.

It also works with leading corporate business across finance, law and professional services to drive a culture shift in the workplace, helping them make meaningful change and include diverse talent irrespective of background or race.
 
 
The Brokerage
 

How did the company start?

 
The Brokerage was established in 1996 after research was published by the University of East London about the City offering the biggest employment opportunities in the world but being located right next door to areas of great deprivation.

At first, the organisation was set up to act as an interim party, similar to a recruitment agency, but is soon became apparent that this was naive and that they also needed to design and deliver education and skills training programmes for the young people.

So this is what the Brokerage has been doing for the last 25 years, supported by City companies, designing and delivering high-impact programmes for young people with talent but for whom without our support would not have the opportunity to reach their potential. They have reached tens of thousands of young people across Greater London and now have thousands of alumni (some now in their 40s) who have successful careers in the City.
 

 

 How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
 The past year has been testing for us all but the pressure on young people, having exams and career opportunities cancelled, is stark, and young people from less-advantage backgrounds face the biggest challenges. In May, The Brokerage released data from a survey of their young people that found that 89% of them are worried about the impact of the pandemic on their future career prospects.

In response, The Brokerage has developed a manifesto for employers, Opening Doors 2021 – Manifesto for a Fair and Inclusive Recovery, which outlines six key asks on the changes they can make to ensure their workplaces are inclusive as we look towards economic recovery.

The Brokerage has also had to adapt their services to ensure that they could still deliver their programmes (many of which were delivered face to face), to young people on a virtual basis. This has actually had a positive impact as it means the organisation has been able to support a greater number of young people who have had access to corporate-led sessions that they might not have been able to attend previously.
 

What can we hope to see from The Brokerage in the future?

 
 As they look to the future, and in response to the hybrid-working approach that the majority of organisations are planning to adopt post-pandemic The Brokerage will be delivering a hybrid approach to services, that see knowledge sharing sessions continue online, while mentoring and other relationship and skills building sessions return to face to face.

The organisation is also keen to expand its ‘Changemaker’ strand of work (which aims to change corporate cultures) and wants to put young people at the heart of this via a Youth Leaders Programme and a youth advisory arm. This will provide corporates with the opportunity to hear directly from young people about how they can improve their recruitment and management practices, leading to positive long-term cultural changes within those organisations.