Raphael Mokades is the founder and Managing Director of Rare Recruitment, a recruitment agency that aims to connect exceptional people from diverse backgrounds with great jobs in top organisations. In this interview, Raphael shares his views on race in Britain, his work at Rare and how BME graduates can reach the top.
I started Rare in 2005 after having been in charge of diversity at Pearson for a number of years. We have a team of 16 people, ten of whom used to be Rare candidates. We connect excellent people from diverse backgrounds with top graduate jobs.
How did you come about setting up Rare?
When I was at Pearson I used to love going on campus and meeting top ethnic minority students. However, I wanted to do more than just sell to them: I wanted to give them the good, informed advice on careers that I myself had lacked at university. That was the driver for Rare.
You’ve worked in Equality and Diversity. What are your thoughts on the way equality and diversity is administered in UK universities?
Universities do the best they can but they are massively overstretched and pulled in a million different directions. That’s where organisations like Rare come in.
Many people often say, or like to say that we’ve come a long way as far as the race agenda is concerned. Would you agree that race is not an issue anymore in the UK when it comes to opportunities for young BME people?
No I wouldn’t! Things are certainly better and barriers do vary by sector and by company and by ethnic minority group but there clearly remain some significant challenges. What I do think is true is that great strides have already been there. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re not where we were in 1985 either.
Would you say that there are hurdles that specifically ethnic minority graduates may face in the current economic climate?
I think there are obstacles common to any candidate who is different – women in a male-dominated environment, disabled people, LBGT people, etc – which are about looking and/or feeling that you don’t fit in. In addition I think there may sometimes be specific barriers for specific groups e.g. it may be hard for young black men to come across as assertive and not aggressive with older, white interviewers.
What are your ‘top tips’ for BME graduates currently looking for jobs?
I wrote a whole book on this! The book is entitled Three Steps to Success. But to summarise, first, work out what you want to do; second, work out what you need to do to get there; and third, execute.
Raphael spoke at EMBRACE’s (LSE’s BME Staff Network) lunchtime session on ‘Social diversity within the workplace’ on 3 May 2012. Visit Rare Recruitment’s website – http://www.rarerecruitment.co.uk/