Pound House, 62A Highgate
High St London N6 5HX
Diverse Leaders Network (DLN) is a social enterprise founded by two experienced secondary school teachers with a mission is to promote diversity in leadership and promote fair access to the profession for girls, ethnically diverse young people and those from low socio-economic backgrounds aged 7-19.
The early development of leadership skills in young people of school age has proven to improve behaviour for learning, academic attainment, confidence, resilience, peer relationships, and communication and team-building skills. Yet, many leadership development programmes start too late.
We start at the age of 7.
In the next decade, managerial and professional careers will account for 46% of all jobs worldwide and approximately 83% of all new jobs in the UK, making leadership one of the skills that will be very high in demand.
We ensure that no child is left behind.
No child should be made to feel like they don’t belong, but that is exactly what happens when these young people fail to see people who look like them in senior positions of leadership. It limits their aspirations and diminishes their confidence, leaving them locked into a cycle of disadvantage.
Our leaders are diverse.
Founded in 2014, we are a black female led social enterprise that exists to remove three identified barriers that stop underrepresented young people from reaching their full academic, career and leadership potential. These barriers are career awareness, leadership ability and access to networks and work-related opportunities.
We aim to level the playing field for girls, ethnically diverse and low-income young people, aged seven to nineteen, to improve academic and employment outcomes and achieve a more equitable future for everyone.
Young people from these backgrounds are more likely to be unaware of non-stereotypical jobs and career pathways; have limited beliefs of themselves and face increased barriers to success due to their gender, ethnicity and class.
As educators, we recognise the power of addressing these barriers early. Therefore, we start as young as seven to raise their awareness of non-stereotypical careers, progressive industries and unconventional pathways; develop positive behaviour for learning, employability and leadership skills; and provide access to relatable leaders and work experiences, so that they can truly see and feel like they belong.
We connect schools, local authorities and parents with diverse leaders and businesses committed to creating a more equitable society and inclusive workforce. We have already improved the outcomes of over 3700 young people and worked with some well-known companies that are passionate about diversity, leadership and the next generation.
Our programmes work because:
We train all our diverse leaders and business volunteers
Our lived experiences enable us to relate effortlessly with each underrepresented group and deliver content in a way that is culturally sensitive, appropriate and solution-focused
Our teaching expertise enables us to provide high-quality programmes that complement the school curriculum and fulfil statutory requirements for careers guidance in schools.
In recent years, we have seen a significant change in the way live, educate and do business. With the advancement of technology, low-skilled jobs are becoming obsolete. Due to pre-existing structural inequalities, this affects mainly the working-age population from ethnically diverse and low socio-economic backgrounds, as they are the biggest groups to occupy these roles.
As the top professions tend to have the highest earnings, job security and better longer-term income prospects, it is essential that young people have the skills needed to remain competitive in the job market and have the skills required to access these jobs.
Leadership taught by diverse professional leaders will not only raise aspirations, attainment and confidence but will also reduce barriers to education and employment, giving young people a chance to access these managerial and professional jobs in the future.
Stereotypes about gender, ethnicity and class begin to form in children as young as 7. These beliefs go on to shape the way they view their education, future and place in society. If these stereotypes are negative and go unchallenged, these stereotypes have the power to lock them into a cycle of disadvantage.
Research shows the development of a leadership mindset and skillset in young people of school age can transform limiting perceptions and empower students to lead and take charge of their academic achievement, personal progress and future career goals.
Just 7% of the UK population attend private school, yet 71% of senior judges, 50% of members of the House of Lords and 43% of newspaper columnists went to an independent school. Whilst ethnically diverse people make up 12% of the working-age population, only 4% of current FTSE 100 Directors, 4% of MPs in England and 2% of Headteachers, are from an ethnically diverse background. Similarly, women are also underrepresented in senior positions of leadership with just 9% of FTSE 100 Executive Directors being female.
In the UK today, there is an entrenched link between a young person’s background and their ability to reach their full academic, career and leadership potential. Individuals from ethnically diverse and low socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to be unemployed, in low-skilled work or remain in entry-level positions. Women are more likely to go into stereotypical professions, get paid less than their male counterparts and choose flexible working hours, which wrongly affect their chances of progressing into leadership.
This level of disadvantage leaves women and individuals from ethnically diverse and low socio-economic backgrounds locked into a perpetual cycle of underrepresentation. In recent years, interventions to tackle this issue starts far too late, as stereotypes about gender, ethnicity and class begin to form in children as young as 7. Our commitment to turning every student into a leader will ensure all young people get an opportunity to lead and use their knowledge, skills and networks to change the leadership landscape in the future.