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Group Head of Sustainability
Young people have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, not in terms of medical outcomes but from an economic and social perspective. This is why we are supporting younger people as part of our inclusive capitalism strategy, through which we aim to tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges.
Inclusive capitalism means growing our business while providing benefits to society through our socially responsible investing approach. This involves investing in infrastructure and technology like wind farms, housing and urban regeneration. And during the pandemic it has also meant supporting communities as they struggle with the impact of Covid-19.
Many aspects of the pandemic have impacted young people, from the mental and emotional strain of lockdowns to the disruption to their education. It has affected their careers and social lives while those living in multi-occupancy households have found working from home more difficult than those with a designated office or spare room.
"Young people, including people who work at Legal & General, have seen their sense of agency eroded, and anything we can do to restore a sense of control is really critical," says Head of Employee Engagement Jack Roper. "It’s a perfect example of inclusive capitalism in action, because it is about empowering people to survive, thrive and progress their life within the system we've got by making that system better."
Here are just a few ways in which we support younger generations in order to see a social return on our investments.
One of the ways we're supporting the younger members of our society is by boosting remote learning. Virtual Maths Club was set up in March 2020 in response to schools having to close temporarily and have their students working remotely. The club built on the successes of Maths Club student sessions and Maths Teacher continuous professional development events over recent years, and saw more than 450 teachers access resources designed to engage young people studying at home.
Working with Keele University and Higher Horizons+, the Virtual Maths Club has been received well by both teachers and students. Teachers were asked to rate the provision as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor, and 86% said excellent and the remaining 14% said very good, with 100% of respondents answering 'yes' to if they wanted the Virtual Maths Club to run next year.
Some teacher responses from the summer term 2020 club included:
“I can’t sing Virtual Maths Club's praises high enough; it has been a fantastic experience and I look forward to working with you in the future.”
“The response from students has been extremely positive!”
“I learnt a lot and I'm sure I'm going to be relying a lot on some of those resources in this upcoming academic year!”
It’s a perfect example of inclusive capitalism in action, because it is about empowering people to survive, thrive and progress their life within the system we've got by making that system better
We are a founding partner in FastFutures, a 12-week digital and business skills programme for young people from underrepresented groups. It aims to help young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to get into corporate life, Jack says. As well as learning content on core commercial skills, the programme includes mentoring from business experts, mock interview practice, guidance on building a standout CV and job interview advice.
Of those enrolling in the first cohort during 2020, 61% were female, 47% from a black or minority ethnic background, 55% from a lower socio-economic background, 10%. LGBTQ+, and 7% disabled. The programme demonstrates our commitment to helping young people develop the skills they need to get into the workplace, and L&G has provided around 200 mentors to the scheme.
Established in 1875, Girls Friendly Society (GFS) is one of the oldest registered charities working to support girls and young women in England and Wales. We are a partner with GFS, and this is in line with our corporate commitment to building an inclusive society and our sustainable development goals. We have funded four new groups in London, Cardiff, Leeds and Bristol, where girls aged five to 16 can come together to grow, make friends, develop confidence and self-esteem and build resilience.
We have committed further support to help the DofE meet the goals of its ‘Youth Without Limits’ five-year strategy, which aims to make the organisations more accessible and relevant.
We will support the charity across the UK so that it can continue to help young people build life-long belief in themselves. Legal & General CSR Manager Lynne Sheehy explains: “As a major employer we recognise the value of giving young people more life choices on their career pathway and developing their leadership skills.
The DofE is open to everyone and is more relevant than ever because it can play an important role helping young people recover and thrive
“We know the coronavirus pandemic has hit young people particularly hard – affecting their studies, relationships, work, opportunities and mental health – and disadvantaged young people have been disproportionately affected.
“The DofE is open to everyone and is more relevant than ever because it can play an important role helping young people recover and thrive, developing skills and character traits – like confidence and resilience – to help them prepare for future training and employment opportunities and help them refocus and reshape their lives.”
Our work with young people is not just to tackle a symptom right now, Jack says, but to tackle some underlying causes of disadvantages. Sara Heald, Head of CSR adds: “What we do is give young people choices and the confidence to choose pathways which can really make a difference to their lives.”
Socially responsible investing ensures that everyone in our society can benefit from our activities, whether it is investing in essential infrastructure, later living solutions, companies that promise to behave in an ethical way, or simply in our communities. It’s all about investing today in the things that will make a difference tomorrow.