Diversity of thought: why your business should consider the 10,000 Black Interns programme

With countless organisations competing against one another to provide similar services, products and solutions, one strategic tool stands out as arguably the most important differentiating factor: diversity of thought. Diversity of thought in business is a catalyst for innovation, imagination, better decision-making, and market relevance. It fosters creativity, provides a competitive edge, and ensures organisations are well-equipped to navigate an ever-changing global landscape while upholding ethical and inclusive values.

Take Yonder for example – we’re a team of 175 strategists, innovators, creatives, data scientists, and researchers who speak 11 languages, are from all walks of life and have different perspectives, experiences, interests, skills and goals. We were founded 3 years ago with that exact intention in mind: we are all fundamentally and intentionally different. The very first email sent by our founders, Michael and Manfred, when they established Yonder was their vision of how we would create a diverse and inclusive business. Diversity of thought, experience and background encourages innovation, sparks creativity, builds empathy and drives our growth. This is why we’ve taken steps over the last 3 years to fulfil our aim of creating a diverse and inclusive business.

10,000 Black Interns

One of our most recent successes, and one that we’d encourage any organisation to participate in, was our 2023 10,000 Black Interns programme in the UK. We’ve been partnered with the 10,000 Interns Foundation since 2022. It’s a programme that offers paid work placements across a range of industries to young black people in the UK. It gives them the opportunity to harness skills, gain access to a network of professionals and open pathways into careers that ethnic minorities have historically found difficult to enter – all to drive long-term tangible change.

This year, we welcomed 4 interns over a 6-week period. The programme gave each intern exposure to our experts, our projects, clients, training, CV workshops, and concluded with an independent mock project and presentation that left our own teams speechless. We were so impressed, in fact, that we have welcomed one of our interns, Arenike, back as a Junior Associate.

We asked some of the people involved to give us the inside scoop about what the programme was like, and whether they’d recommend it to other businesses:

“Diversity of thought to us means seeking ideas that come from anywhere – and that’s exactly what this programme is all about. That’s how imagination can flourish, which in turn takes our clients further.

This year’s interns provided our teams with a fresh way of looking at a challenge, brought diverse perspectives to the solution. Although all had worked in our industry before, they were doing most things for the first time, attacking each challenge with gusto. I was impressed by their ability to apply what they had learned working on their accounts to their own mock project in such a short amount of time, and their curiosity not to stop questioning. It’s this dose of imagination that makes all the difference to projects.

Diversity is the bedrock of imaginative solutions in our industry, so a wider pool of people need a chance to get started. I would recommend this programme to any other businesses looking to commit to greater diversity within their teams, and who have adequate systems in place, as well as a dedicated group of champions to support the interns throughout their experience.”

Laura Francheteau, Associate Director

“From the inception of my internship, I was trusted with a lot of responsibility. This ranged from sitting in on client meetings to carrying out stakeholder interviews. I had the opportunity to develop my interests and skills through a variety of projects across several sectors. Most importantly, I was able to make the informed decision to narrow down my career path to Insight and Strategy consulting. The supportive and stimulating environment Yonder created, both by the people and the culture, offered me the necessary guidance to make this decision. I am looking forward to my continued journey at Yonder Consulting! In a challenging business environment, this programme provides an excellent platform for minorities to get a legitimate ‘foot in the door’, which diversifies and ultimately enriches their operations.”

Arenike Benson, Junior Associate

“I’d love to see more businesses taking part in the 10,000 black interns programme because it provides access to excellent quality candidates from a demographic group who don’t always get the same exposure. The more businesses who are willing to take active steps to diversify the industry and provide opportunities and exposure to those who need it, the better.

I was incredibly impressed by the maturity, skills and attitude of this year’s interns. They had such amazing focus and determination from start to finish and seized their opportunity to work across the business (they were in high demand from the moment they arrived!). I hope they were able to benefit from every stage of the experience, because we all thoroughly enjoyed working with them.”

Ruth Kapinga, Consultant

“Any business that is serious about diversifying the industry should look to provide support to programmes like 10,000 black interns. The most effective teams rely on a mix of skills, knowledge, perspectives and energy coming together. Each of our interns brought their own combination of these things to the table. We had a great group who got involved and proved to be a real support to the wider team throughout the whole 6 weeks.”

Lucy Evans, Client Development Manager

The 10,000 Interns Foundation provides paid internships for Black students and graduates through the 10,000 Black Interns programme, and paid internships for disabled students and graduates of all ethnicities, through the 10,000 Able Interns programme across a range of UK industries. You can participate in the programme here, donate here, or apply to become an intern here. This is one of many initiatives we are undertaking to create a truly diverse and inclusive consulting firm. One that delivers better solutions for our clients, challenges our thinking as a Yonder team, and fuels the spark of imagination that Yonder was created for, so that we can make a real impact and help our clients invent a better future. We look forward to supporting the Foundation again in 2024.