Despite companies putting in more effort to recruit Black graduates, this is failing to have a meaningful impact on racial injustice in the workplace.

A new report from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) suggests that efforts to hire Black graduates require CEO backing in order to make a tangible difference.

Over half of companies (54 per cent) were shown to have a strategy in order to attract Black candidates to their business.

However, this drops to under half (44 per cent) when accounting for the number of organisations which track retention. Half of this number (22 per cent) provide dedicated support during early careers.

Analysing various case-studies across a span of workplaces and feedback from employers, the research showed that Black graduates felt this lack of support keenly, calling for more help to transition into work successfully and more support and training to deal with race and racism.

Particular challenges faced by this group included experiencing explicit and covert racism, non-inclusive environments and seeing poor representation of Black people in senior positions.

Both Black graduates and employers acknowledged that improving diversity stems from integrating measures across the whole organisation, as opposed to targeting this issue exclusively through recruitment or their branding.

In addition, this group were also found to expend more effort and skill into figuring out how to adapt and fit into predominantly white workplaces.

This led to respondents feeling they had to work harder to be successful, proving themselves by outperforming their white peers.

Ultimately, the report found the most effective strategies to enable Black graduates to successfully progress include substantial forms of work experience and providing support networks such as mentoring and buddy schemes.

As such, ISE identified five ways companies can support Black graduates before and during their careers, including:

  • Being an ally
  • Preparing all students for diverse workplaces and addressing racism and diversity as part of this
  • Turning recruitment into a force for equality – ensuring that recruitment processes are overhauled to ensure that they are not biased and discriminatory
  • Maximising the potential of hires from Black heritage backgroundsRecognising that organisations need to support hires from Black heritage backgrounds during their early careers
  • Transforming your organisation and influencing the world around youCalling on all stakeholders to make more fundamental changes to ensure representation at all levels of their organisations and that they should lend their voices to wider campaigns for racial justice.

Arbi Rai, joint Chair of the ISE Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group and Senior Manager of Emerging Talent Recruitment at Lloyds Banking Group said:

While it’s positive that there has started to be a greater focus on improving the experience and outcomes of Black heritage students there is much more that needs to be done.

This isn’t a problem that can be solved in isolation; it requires an integrated focus within organisations and institutions, including strategic commitment not only from senior leadership but also at all levels in creating an inclusive and supportive culture. If a business isn’t prepared to do this then nothing will change.

Stephen Isherwood, CEO of the Institute of Student Employers added:

Business benefits from increased diversity in the workplace only accrue when organisations manage diversity positively and progressively.

Recruitment is only one part of the solution. Recruiting more Black students is essential, but the true measure of success is if they are still there in four years’ time.

*This research has been outlined in ISE’s Black Careers Matter report.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.