Meet the Future Leaders | Why We Work With Underrepresented Young People

June 22, 2022

If you’re familiar with Circl and what we do, you’ve likely heard us using the term ‘Future Leaders’. But if you haven’t done a programme with us, you may be wondering who are these mystical Future Leaders and why are they such an important part of our work?

During our leadership development programmes, we work with two groups: professionals from some of the world’s most exciting companies, and Future Leaders - under-represented students between the ages of 18-24. We call them Future Leaders because that’s exactly what they are; talented and motivated individuals who will go on to lead the next generation in their chosen industries. They’re a huge part of what makes our programmes so brilliant and they push and inspire both us and our professional participants. 

In this blog we wanted you to get to know the Future Leaders a little bit better, to understand how we choose them for the programme and why we work with underrepresented young people. 

Who are the Future Leaders?

The Future Leaders on our programmes are a diverse group of individuals with a wide-range of talents, interests and personalities. While we couldn’t possibly narrow them down to fit one description, there are some similarities they share which influence how they’re selected for the programme. 

The young people we work with come from groups that are largely underrepresented at leadership level: mostly those from ethnic minorities and low socio-economic backgrounds. In the UK, the government has shared guidance to ‘measure’ social class such as parents' education level and occupation, receiving free school meals and attending private vs state schools. We use a similar criteria to select the young people for our programmes. Future Leaders should meet two of the following categories:

  • Being the first generation to attend university
  • From an ethnic minority background 
  • From a low-income household 

Why do we choose to work with under-represented groups?

We choose the Future Leaders from the above criteria because we wish to address the lack of diversity at leadership level in the UK and beyond. Increasing access to high-potential opportunities would improve social mobility for underrepresented groups, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential and improve their general wellbeing and life chances. It would mean that a variety of voices are being heard, understood and represented at all levels - which has been proven to provide a number of benefits for business such as increased creativity, productivity, and employee engagement to name a few. The case for increased representation is both morally and economically justified. 

By working with young people from underrepresented backgrounds, we help students who lack not just financial resources but the skills, connections and know-how that they need to get ahead. Through working with our Future Leaders, we’ve come to see how much cultural capital plays a role in social mobility.

“The real deficit that workers from lower social-class origins suffer in school is not intellectual but cultural: They know less than those from higher class origins about what the pathways to education are and how to make the most of them. Evidence from elite colleges indicates that cultural capital matters more than financial capital in predicting which students will succeed.” Harvard Business Review

The Future Leaders who take part in Circl’s leadership programme don’t just gain new skills and an accredited coaching qualification, but access to connections, networks and industries that they otherwise wouldn’t. Our long-term impact evaluation found that 82% of our FL’s reported increased confidence due to the networking opportunities and empowering nature of the programme. Two-thirds of FL participants also attributed the Circl programme to the achievement of a new job role. 

How do Future Leaders help the professionals?

Though we love hearing the impact our programme has on the Future Leaders, it isn’t the only reason why we work with them. Our Future Leaders impact our professional participants just as much (it’s part of the two-way nature of the programme). 

Many of the professionals have been in their careers for a long time, working alongside people of a similar age and with similar interests to them. Practicing coaching and being coached by a young person with completely different interests, experiences and backgrounds, often proves to be a powerful experience for the professionals. They’re far more engaged than they would be working alongside their peers and they feel held to account by the young person who’s learning alongside them. Participants learn inclusive coaching skills and increase their cultural awareness at the same time by gaining a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives. It’s a truly unique experience that’s proven to build empathetic leaders who have the ability to lead diverse teams. 

Want to learn more about Circl’s inclusive leadership development programme? Click here or talk to a team member to learn more.