Series Nine, Episode Two – Islamic Finance: The Principles, Potential and Imperative for Encouraging Islamic Talent

Posted on October 6, 2020

Host Julia Streets is joined by Jon Guy, Secretary General of the Islamic Insurance Association of London and Dr Mohammed Abdel-Haq, Professor in Banking and a Director of the Centre for Islamic Finance at the University of Bolton. 

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and Islamic Insurance Association of London (IIAL) have collaborated with the University of Bolton to launch an MBA in Islamic Insurance and Risk. Together, they discuss Shariah Law as it affects the principles of finance, insurance and risk management. They emphasise the importance of engaging with ethnic minorities to achieve the economic and international potential on offer, to dispel any misconceptions about career advancement and create centres of world class talent excellence. They also discuss the need for greater gender representation, how to improve, and how to cultivate ultimately inclusive-minded, enlightened leaders.

 

Research mentioned in this episode: The Stormy Journey of Women In Islamic Finance

 

Dr Mohammed Abdel-Haq

Dr Mohammed Abdel-Haq is a Professor in Banking and a Director of the Centre for Islamic Finance at the University of Bolton. He is also Executive Director of the Centre for Opposition Studies and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate Developments at the University of Bolton.

As well as his academic knowledge Mohammed has a wealth of practical experience. In a long career in banking in major financial institutions such as Citi Bank, Arbuthnot Latham, Deutsche Bank, ABN AMRO and HSBC. He is also the CEO of Oakstone Merchant Bank.

Mohammed was the Chairman for the Advisory Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing whose report has been recently published by the Government. He was a member of the Council of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) from 2011-2014. In 2011 Mohammed was appointed Chairman of the UK Ministerial Advisory Group on Extremism in Universities and FE Colleges. He was a Member of the UK Government Task Force for Islamic Finance. Mohammed was the co-author of a book on Islamic finance and wrote several articles on various issues related to public life. Mohammed is a Freeman of the City of Oxford, a member of Amnesty International, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, An Adjunct Professor at Charles Sturt University, Australia. Mohammed is an Associate Fellow of the London School of Economics, IDEAS and has also been acknowledged in WHO’s WHO since 2013.

You can follow Dr Mohammed Abdel-Haq on Twitter: @DrMKAbdelHaq

Jon Guy

Jon is the Secretary General of the Islamic Insurance Association of London. 

The Association was formed as part of the UK government’s efforts to create a global centre for the provision of Islamic financial services in London. As such his role is to engage with government, regulators, and the wider market to explore how London can work with its peers to drive professionalism, product development and regulatory standards. 

Jon has been a Journalist for 30 years and spent ten years working on a variety of UK national newspapers. During his time in the international re/insurance trade media based in the UK, he has edited Post Magazine, Insurance Age and Insurance Day and was Editorial Director of Infoma plc’s Insurance Division where he was a key part of the team which managed the acquisition of 37 titles from EMAP and Financial Times Newspapers to create the biggest insurance and risk publisher in the world. 

His reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and respected commentators on the wider insurance and risk sector sees him regularly asked to appear on the BBC and international news media to comment on insurance and risk topics. Jon has won several individual honours at the annual UK Financial Services Media Awards organised by the Association of British Insurers.

Jon is also a Fellow of the RSA.

 

Series Nine, Episode Two Transcript

Julia: Hello, my name is Julia Streets, and welcome to DiverCity Podcast, talking about equality, inclusion, and diversity in financial services. On the podcast we seek to shine a light on positive progress, call out areas requiring further focus and offer lots of ideas to help drive change.

Today I’m joined by Jon Guy and Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq. Jon Guy is the Secretary General of the Islamic Insurance Association of London. The association was formed as part of the UK government’s efforts to create a global centre for the provision of Islamic financial services in London and Jon’s role is to engage with government, regulators and the wider market to consider how London can work with its peers to drive professionalism, product development and regulatory standards.

Jon has been a respected award-winning journalist for some 30 years now, which included 10 years on a variety of UK national newspapers. In the trade media, he has edited a range of insurance titles. Indeed, he was the Editorial Director of Informer PLC’s insurance division that acquired some 37 titles to create the biggest insurance and risk publisher in the world. He’s won many individual owners at the UK Financial Services Media Awards, and he’s also a fellow of the RSA. Jon, welcome to the show. Fabulous to have you here.

Jon: I’m delighted to be on the show and thank you for inviting me.

Julia: Dr. Mohammed Abdel-Haq is a professor in banking and a Director for the Centre of Islamic Finance at the University of Bolton. He is also Executive Director for the Centre for Opposition Studies and Assistant Vice Chancellor for postgraduate developments at the university. In addition to his academic prowess, Mohammed has a wealth of practical experience and a long career in banking in major or well-known international and regional financial institutions and he is also the CEO of Oakstone Merchant Bank. Mohammed has also held many public sector roles in his career. 

In 2011, Mohammed was appointed Chairman of the UK ministerial advisory group on extremism in universities and further education colleges. He was a member of the UK government task force for Islamic finance and has also co-authored a book on Islamic finance. Mohammed, welcome to the show.

Mohammed: I am delighted. Thank you.

Julia: I’m very keen to hear what your focus is for the remainder of this year particularly and you’re going into a new academic term, I imagine. Jon, here we are. We’re recording this in September, likely to go out in October, heading to the end of a very strange year. Can I just ask you, what is your main focus for this year?

Jon: Our main focus for this year and thankfully we’ve been able to work around the remote nature of communication in the last six months was to build a consensus of London underwriters that would be interested in creating a worthwhile Islamic Sharia compliant capacity for major commercial risk across the globe, internationally. From that point of view, it’s gone very well. We’ve got 15 insurers that we are actually having some very constructive discussions with, our key issue I think for the last quarter of the year, it will be really good for us if we can move those discussions into maybe some tangible movement where we might, by the very nature, obviously with the London insurance market’s subscription market and therefore for that, what we’d like to do is maybe create one, possibly two consortiums of underwriters that would all contribute to creating a product that obviously then can be marketed internationally to major Islamic governments, NGOs, and obviously major Islamic companies. So that’s our key. I think from our point of view, it would be quite nice to turn that talk into some tangible progress by year end.

Julia: As we know, it’s an incredibly important market and the international connections really matter. So it’s wonderful to hear that. Also a great to start the conversation today from a very focused action plan oriented, commercial point of view as well. Mohammed, let me bring you in here. What are you particularly focused on for the remainder of this year?

Mohammed: Thank you. Well, as an academic, definitely the safety of our students. I mean, this is an exceptional year for obvious reasons and at the same time, to try to make life as normal as possible for them. It’s really important to have this mix correctly. We can’t stay idle, and do nothing. We have to move on in life, but at the same time, we have a clear and present danger and that is the virus, so this is the main point.

The other one is to keep innovating, keep producing new things, keep life going. Hence, the MBA in Islamic insurance is one of them and as much as possible, this is all about now, not just having students, it’s having students and also trying to identify jobs for them later on in life. We are very much engaged, this is basically the agenda. As a businessman, I just would love to see as few as possible redundancies and I will do whatever I can to help. As a father, I would love to see my family well, safe and away from this terrible virus, because some are away at universities, some of them in schools and you never know, one always has to be very careful. I’m praying for safety for them and their friends as well.

Julia: Yes, absolutely. It is an extraordinary time to be in a university at the moment, actually the reason why I’ve been really excited about this conversation is because when you think about Islamic finance and I, in my career, have worked in Islamic finance to a certain degree, I won’t necessarily pretend to be an expert in it, but every single market at the moment is thinking, is it fit for purpose? For today and for the future. Within that, there are conversations around talent, around product, around regulation and around how markets work together.

I’ve been really fascinated by this conversation because I know the Chartered Insurance Institute and Islamic Insurance Association of London have been working with the University of Bolton to think about what the market needs and therefore to launch an MBA in Islamic insurance and risk for this academic year. I’m really intrigued to know why. Jon, can I come to you first of all. From an industry practitioners point of view, why is this important?

Jon: Well, the fundamental issue is that the conventional insurance that the London market has written for the last 350 years falls outside the tenets of Islam, so it’s deemed to be haram. Therefore, until we provide a policy or we’re providing capacity that is Sharia compliant, that is actually blocking the cream of Islamic talent from not only London and the UK, but around the world from taking part and bringing their skills and a new way of thinking into the London market, because we cannot ask young people, or Muslims from around the world to come and work in something which basically falls outside of their religious beliefs.

Of course there are two things here. One is the huge growth in Islamic finance, which means there’s a huge opportunity for the market. But the second one is, if we truly want to deliver diversity into the London insurance market, we have to open the doors for all. This is going to be a key issue for us to open that to Muslims across the world who would like to participate in what the London market can offer, both in terms of career progression and obviously the rewards that come from working in the world’s oldest insurance market.

Julia: How wonderful that you’re partnering with the University of Bolton. Mohammed, so tell us about the course, tell us about the MBA. What are the key tenets of the course?

Mohammed: If I may just mention one thing about the University of Bolton. One of its main objectives is wider participation and hence the Centre for Islamic Finance. During my discussion with Jon and the Dean, they helped me to identify the opportunity about an MBA in Islamic insurance and risk management. It’s an MBA, the best way to understand an MBA. There are five core modules and two specialised modules, plus the dissertation, it is 180 credit hours basically. One module is about Islamic insurance and one is about risk management. After that, the dissertation should be on one of those subjects. It is like any other MBA, but we are specialised on the Islamic insurance side of it. There is clearly an interest in the market.

Why Islamic insurance is important? I don’t think this is a philosophical debate. If London wants to stay on the top in terms of insurance and finance, there are 2 billion/1.5 billion, this is debatable, but a large percentage of the world population are Muslims, and they are committed to their belief. Interest, which is the main problematic and pillars differentiate between Islamic finance and conventional finance is the interest. It’s one of the biggest seven sins in Islam. It’s not just about I’m upsetting you. No, this is something so fundamental. Most Muslims, they have serious concerns and issues when it comes to interest. If one would like to attract talents to work in this industry from the UK, then we need to have people educated and aware of that. At the end of the day, it’s about education. When you have trained forces, then you will have a better product, you’ll have a better service, you will be more successful. That’s basically the programme. One final point, if I may, Julia, again, this academia is joining the industry in one goal to support and bring people together from all different communities.

Julia: Which is wonderful. Imagine the ideas that are going to be inspired from these dissertations, as you say, because they’re so focused on finding ideas in very specific areas that you’ve just defined, so that’s enormously helpful. Jon, what’s the appetite been like? Particularly when you’re thinking about talent, let’s look ahead and sort of the talent coming out of the MBA and how that will then come back into the workplace, really look forward to your thoughts on how that’s going to work. Particularly if this amazing talent’s going to come into the industry that doesn’t necessarily align with what they want.

Jon: Well, of course this is the thing, the appetite for it and the MBA has been roundly welcomed by Lloyd’s, by the International Underwriting Association, by the London Market Group, which obviously represents the market as a whole. Libor, which represents the brokers. They can see, because of course there are a number of themes that run under this as we’re aware, and we have to be honest and open here. London has struggled with the issue of culture and diversity for many, many years. Of course, those of us who monitor the national media over the last two years will have known some of the horror stories that have come through that.

Of course, I would turn round and say that new strives have been made. There is still a long way to go. Everybody recognises this is definitely going to be a marathon and not a sprint. However, both Lloyd’s and the London market started very quickly. It’s quite interesting because we are as a market, under some pressure from the government to deliver on the access to wall that obviously Prime Minister Johnson mentioned from the outset. Of course, this is the other issue where we’re shutting the door to some of our regions because of the fact that they’re heavily populated by Muslims, it’s not the way to go.

What we are finding though is that, yes, there’s a huge amount of interest, certainly from the market. They’re looking at this and seeing the type of students we get, where that’s going to come. There’s certainly an interest to follow this up once we start getting some graduates. I think there’s really an issue of “actually would like to pick that talent”. So, I think they’re very, very hopeful. As I said, it really is something that the London market is very, very keen to drive, because as I said, it will be part and parcel of their real strong efforts to try and drive diversity inclusion across the market.

Julia: Mohammed from your point of view, because you’re going to be producing exceptional talent into the market. Where do you see the career opportunities for your MBA alumni and graduates as they come into the market?

Mohammed: There is definitely a demand. The insurance industry has to rely on experts to be able to meet this demand. It’s about people who have trained for that and hopefully this MBA will provide the answer in a professional way. One of the challenges facing Islamic finance, including for Islamic insurance, is this is not just about reading a book or being a Muslim it will be enough, it’s not. This is a professional discipline and it needs proper training. I really hope, and I look forward to being able to attract young talent from all sorts of backgrounds. This is a way for them to make their own ways in the City, basically in London, where it is a centre of excellence and also to finances and industry and insurance. I don’t see why London can’t be at the top of the Islamic insurance market.

Julia: It’s fascinating because we have many guests on talking about the changing dynamics of the workplace, thinking about new models of enlightened leadership, which is a really core path to driving culture, cultural change if we want to, and I don’t mind calling it out, which is the fact that there are some conversations around inherent racism in organisations, I think you were lightly alluding to Jon in terms of how Britain’s attitudes towards the Islamic community can often manifest itself. If you take this about how organisations are and how they’re changing and how they’re challenging themselves, and also about introducing talent that needs to be enlightened in its journey to success, I’d love to hear your thoughts really about how you’re helping students think differently about how they enter the workplace as well.

Jon: I think from the London market’s point of view, of course, we have work to do alongside the work Mohammed and the team at the University of Bolton are doing, because of course it comes back to, as you say, where can the graduates find a rewarding career? If we’re keen to do this with London, as part and parcel that this is where that working group comes in. We need to have the underwriting capacity there to then turn around and say, “Right, we now have roles that fit within those Sharia compliant windows, and those Sharia compliant operations that mean that you’ve got a career path.” Again, it has to be a clear career path. I have to turn around and say, Lloyd’s of London has been very proactive in terms of driving greater diversity, ethnic diversity in the market. They’ve set up an accelerated programme to develop minority ethnic future leaders, but of course the issue with that will be when we get our Muslim student, they do have to have a syndicate or an insurance company that is operating in a Sharia compliant manner for them to find that space.

That’s the sort of compulsion that the London market’s got at the moment. We’ve now set up the ability for that young talent to start learning the skills they’ll need, but we now need to make sure that when they’ve done that, and they’ve done all that hard work, and as you say, they’re coming up with these brilliant ideas, we have a home for those ideas, and we have a home for that talent. That’s why, alongside what we’re doing with the University of Bolton, we’re working very hard with the working group to try and set these Sharia compliant windows and capacity up.

Julia: These things are immensely complex aren’t they? But how wonderful to hear how the market is coming together again with the University of Bolton to really think about organisations that are fit for the talent coming into them and how the talent then enters that marketplace as well. We have to talk about gender. It’s incredibly important that we do talk about gender. Mohammed, I’d love to turn to you really about, are you seeing any best practice about how do we encourage greater engagement in not only the MBA, but then also in the workplace as a whole, particularly looking at this through an Islamic point of view?

Mohammed: As a real example, instead of just talking about conceptual issues, the MBA in Islamic Finance, discuss between IIAL and CII and University of Bolton, we came with this exercise, the product, MBA in Islamic insurance. As a result, the CII, led by Vivine, came up with an idea, why don’t we visit the University of Bolton to speak to your people, our students, about business opportunities in the City of London and tell them how. That engagement, ideas and of course, Jon is invited as well to talk to our students.

Of course, when they talk to our students, they will talk about conventional insurance, but at the same time, they talk about Islamic insurance. One of the challenges I have first-hand experience, is that some people from certain backgrounds think they cannot get in. They need someone to tell them, “No, you can, there’s nothing to stop you. This is Great Britain. This is a country where it’s a land of opportunities.” When I keep telling my students these things, sometimes I can see the surprise in their faces. It’s all about engagement and encouraging people. Of course there are some people, they have different ideas and not necessarily healthy ideas, or positive, but those in my view are a minority. The real issue is to encourage our youngsters, to reach out and to give them the opportunity for the industries. CII, IIAL and others, Lloyd’s and to reach out to a different places and to encourage people to come out and by also being professional, having the soft skills required and other skills, the professional skills, I think we will become more and more successful in terms of making minorities get involved more in the mainstream businesses, including the insurance, of course.

Julia: Of course, there you’ve mentioned a reference to Vivine, we should mention that’s Vivine Cameron, who’s been really instrumental in bringing this collaboration together and has been a real pioneer. She’s a real inspiration in bringing the two together. Jon, from your point of view, we talk about intersectionality a lot in diversity as well. Again, talking about encouraging more Islamic women into the MBA and into the industry, love your thoughts about what are you focused on, what’s important and what’s changing?

Jon: I think again, it is quite interesting. It’s quite telling if we look at the London market as a whole, again, as part of the efforts they’ve made to get an idea on where we are in terms of cultural diversity, there was a major study done last year, which is actually quite good. There’s some good things and there are some rather frustrating things. 40% of the London market is female, which is great in terms of the 32,000 people that work and touch the London insurance market. However, that’s unfortunately where we start to see the issues because of that, 29% of those females are in leadership positions, 18% are in executive committee positions and then we get down to about 12% who are actually on the board of these companies. So of course, there we have a gender which has got 40%. so they’re basically 40%, but that translates to only 12% when we’re looking at the composite of boards.

There’s a great deal of work being done on that, I have turn round and say but of course the other issue we’ve got, and I totally agree with you, is we really want to work with the University of Bolton and a number of the other associations and groups around the country, CII and obviously some of the universities, University of Bolton, to look at it and as you say, try and explain, “It’s not about the colour of your skin. It’s not about your religion, it’s certainly not about your gender, we want to make sure that everybody feels that they can go as far as they can on their own merits. If you are good enough, you will have a career path within the market, in whichever choice you go.”

From our point of view, it will be a challenge. I think it will be a challenge. We’re obviously working with Professor Abdel-Haq and the team, but we hold a number of briefings for the London market and we make it quite clear that we are fully supportive of the efforts of the wider London market to ensure that gender imbalance is quickly overcome.

Julia: Let’s remind ourselves why this matters, by the way. We always talk about diversity and inclusion through a commercial point of view. We started the show talking about the importance of the Islamic finance market as well. Mohammed, I’d love to get your opinions, or get your data. If you have any data and insights on Islamic banking and finance, why this really matters because of the commercial opportunity that’s on the table.

Mohammed: In The Islamic finance industry, there is no specific accurate number, but we are talking about trillions and the bulk of that money is in the banking side. There is no reason that it shouldn’t be on the insurance side. There’s definitely a great opportunity for the insurance market and industry to pay attention to. If you allow me to come back to the issue of how we can attract talent from minorities, ethnic minorities, including Muslim. I keep telling my students, the most important thing is to develop the skills on how to solve problems. If you achieve this, you will conquer the world. Every employer would want at the end of the day, that intellectual faculty in their employees, how to solve the problems. If you have the right level of education, where you understand the West as much as you understand Islam, you understand the principles of insurance as much as you understand the principles of Islamic law, this will be a formidable combination for your career and you will have two potential careers. Sometimes if you like to do conventional and sometimes you like to do Islamic or both. It depends how the industry or how the company, the one would function or map out the career path for their people.

The opportunity for in particular, the insurance industry, when it comes to Islamic insurance is substantial. There is, of course, in my view, the main reason why it has not prospered or flourished is lack of training and education in this matter. This has nothing to do with politics but because now we are out of Europe, we need now to open new markets. The real growth, potential growth, in my view is in the Islamic world. There are 56 Muslim countries in the world, some of them part of the richest, including the state of Qatar and including Indonesia and many, many in between. There is substantial sums of their population, they will only do Islamic insurance and if they can’t find Islamic insurance, they will not do any other insurance.

Julia: Jon?

Jon: From the insurance point of view, we estimate, or in 2017, global Islamic assets were estimated at 2.5 trillion, which was a 3% year on year increase, if we take COVID away from this, because the data I’m about to talk to you about, it will not be impacted by COVID. This is quite aside from COVID. If you look at the London market and there’s been a number of studies, 1.9%, of the premiums that come into the London market come from Africa, the largest Islamic continent, or most populous Islamic continent on the planet. 10.4% come from Asia, which includes Indonesia. There is a huge opportunity there.

What we are seeing in London is that the Western Europe, USA, our premium levels are stagnant, we’re holding our own. However, our impact in those markets is falling because obviously these are the emerging markets, they’re growing and we’re not tapping into that growth. Now, quite interestingly, if we go back to Africa, one of the most exciting things we’re seeing this year, and this was obviously early in the year, we saw the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Association. 54 of the 55 African states have signed to this, the only one that hasn’t is Eritrea, all the others have signed. This is going to be a mirror of what we see with the European Union, there’ll be free trade borders. It’s going to prompt a huge amount of infrastructure, because of course, we’re going to see new ports, we’re going to see new logistical issues. We’re going to see new roads, new transport links and all this has got to be funded, all this has got to be insured. As I said, we’re going back to the fact that this is the most populous Islamic continent on the planet.

From that point of view, we do have a real opportunity. To be quite honest, the market should be picking this up. Swiss Re, which is the big Swiss reinsurance company, in July of this year put out research that shows that in the next 20 years, the emerging market will spend 2.2 trillion on infrastructure projects. Infrastructure is what the London market and the insurance infrastructure and specialty insurance is what it’s built on. So there’s 2.2 trillion. Again, only in the start of September, we saw new areas where we’re going to see the global supply chain completely change. They reckon that is going to bring something like 650 million pounds of new insurance products from emerging nations. If we, as London can offer cover in a way which meets sovereign wealth funds and government investors in the way it meets the tenets of Islam, we have got a really strong USP. Going back to what Mohammed said, it’s quite true. We’ve got the reputation that the issue we have, a lot of these very financially strong Islamic companies want to be with strong partners. Therefore in a way, they’re quite happy to work with the big Western insurers and go conventional because they want the financial strength. Now, we can offer that financial strength in a Sharia compliant way, that is going to be a major benefit to the market.

Julia: Of course, we must attract the talent, have the leadership and be able to do that on an international scale. I think that’s a beautiful moment there just to pause the show for a second as we turn to Cynthia, who has some research to support today’s discussion.

Cynthia: The Stormy Journey Of Women In Islamic Finance, the 2018 Wahed article, outlines that women in Islamic finance have come a long way, especially with the recognition of effort and hard work of the women in the industry, through WOMAN i 100, the first systematically delineated ranking of women in Islamic finance by Cambridge IFA. WOMAN i 100 proudly acknowledges the top 100 women who are part of a new generation of icons, game-changers and driving change across the Islamic finances service industry. Their achievements were not by virtue of their family backgrounds, marital relationships, or other default possessions, but rather because of their sheer hard work, relentless efforts to pursue professional careers and commitment to the cause of Islamic banking and finance. It is notable to highlight that the top 10 winners were women from various parts of the world. Two from the United Kingdom, five from Malaysia, one from Indonesia, one from Pakistan and one from Nigeria, further highlighting the international standing of Islamic banking and finance.

Julia: Thanks, Cynthia. The links to the research can be found on our website, divercitypodcast.com. That’s where you can find all our episodes and sign up for early notifications of future recordings. Please do follow us on Twitter @divercitypod, and DiverCity Podcast is available on BrightTALK and all good podcast channels. We’d love a rating because it all helps to promote the show.

Now, these are interesting times. Just before the break with Cynthia, we were thinking about the economic opportunity that presents itself. But these are interesting times and we are working on a global scale, in a climate that is shouting economic downturn. One of the questions I’m asking all our guests is in your mind, why is it so important that diversity and inclusion remains high on a corporate agenda right now? Jon, can I come to you first?

Jon: The short answer and it’s the succinct answer really is, that if we all are going to engage with these clients across the world, whoever they meet is going to be a mirror to this market and that has to be somebody that is fully capable of understanding the nuances, the cultural nuances, and obviously the different attitudes and different approaches across the world. From that point of view, it’s far, far better if you’ve got somebody who fully understands that and will bring in those ideas back to the London market.

Julia: Wonderful and Mohammed, your thoughts on that?

Mohammed: I agree with everything Jon said, but at the same time, those people need to be well-educated. They need to be truly keen and committed. I think there are plenty of people from ethnic minorities in our societies who are very keen and they are very bright people and they are waiting for an opportunity here. It is important because ethnic minorities are what makes this great society, all of us great, different. This is why we are successful because we are a pool of talents and regardless of the backgrounds, regardless of gender, or sex, or anything, we can put it simply. I can’t live in peace if my garden is great but my neighbours are in a very dire situation.

It is the society. It’s all about society. I can’t be safe if my neighbourhood is not safe and there is nothing worse than poverty. There is nothing more demoralising than unemployment and unemployed people. I would really urge everyone to widen the net, to look around and to invite youngsters and to give them the chances. At the same time, if I may also send a message to the youngsters from ethnic minorities, be the best you can be. Just try to do your best, try to impress your employer. Not because you are an ethnic minority, you don’t want your employer to employ you because you’re an ethnic minority, you want your employer to employ you because you are the best out of everyone that was there, regardless of the colour and that comes through education, through engagement, through being committed, serious, and to pay attention to everything, to every detail. But it is important to engage everyone in our society.

Julia: I think those are incredibly inspiring words. Gentlemen, I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the conversation today. It is not only wrapped around a coercion imperative, and it’s not only mindful of the type of talent that we need. We have listeners all over the world and if you think about the size of the market all over the world and the talent all over the world, it’s incredibly inspiring. Jon, thank you for being with us today.

Jon: Thank you very much.

Julia: And Mohammed, thank you as well.

Mohammed: Thank you for having me.

Julia: As always, to all our listeners on DiverCity Podcast, I’ve been Julia Streets, thank you for listening.

Kieron: This episode of the DiverCity Podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. Thanks to Cynthia Akinsanya for her insights. You can find out more about the guests on this week’s show on our website, divercitypodcast.com. Whilst you are there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates.

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