What do a wall of doughnuts, a Team GB elite athlete, jelly beans, and a black lab called Lottie, all have in common?
Perhaps surprisingly, they were all talking points at the PRIME Conference hosted by Hogan Lovells on 8th February. But, in case you think the whole event was just an excuse to consume sugar and meet celebrities (and their pets) I can assure you that it was also a day of inspirational speeches, engaging discussions and ideas, ideas, ideas.
The eye catching (and onbrand colours) of the wall of doughnuts created the perfect icebreaker for members over lunch, which perfectly set the tone for an afternoon where attendees openly discussed and shared ideas.
It’s an over-used term, but inspirational is what the keynote speech from former British Paralympic swimmer, The Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE was. He shared his personal experience of overcoming diversity to achieve far more than society (with its often limited beliefs) would have thought possible.
Going blind overnight at the age of 14 must have been terrifying but it didn’t stop him from going on to achieve amazing successes in his life. From beating the Spanish swimmer, Pablo Corral to gold – in front of an enthusiastic Spanish home crowd no less, to becoming a lawyer, to sitting in the House of Lords, where he is an active social mobility and diversity advocate. As he spoke about viewing talent through a different lens and empowering people to achieve their potential, it was clear that we were in for an interesting afternoon.
We were particularly delighted to be joined by a few of our alumni, who are excellent role models for PRIME. One such alumna, Megan Stewart, joined us for the ‘Moving the Needle’ panel discussion and helped us realise what a huge difference PRIME makes to the lives of young people like her. As she said, having the opportunity to take part in a supported programme like PRIME at Hogan Lovells put her in a much stronger position when it came to her trainee interview. PRIME meant that, as a 16 year old, she’d travelled to London and had experience of an office environment, which made the whole interview experience far less daunting and unfamiliar than it would have been had this been her first trip to the city from her village in Leicestershire.
From the ‘Moving the Needle’ panel discussion, to the presentation on the Social Mobility Index, and the round table session, certain themes around social mobility and making a difference kept cropping up.
And at the heart of all of these themes was change.
- Reach those talented young people who will benefit most from PRIME by changing their ideas of what they can achieve.
- Make a difference by changing the mindset of the dominant culture and the key decision makers in the corporate world.
- Improve social mobility by changing the idea of what talent is. If talent is viewed as being captain of the rugby team or having work experience in a certain type of firm then people from different backgrounds are being automatically excluded.
Change the mindsets of young people, of decision makers, of society as a whole, and we will see social mobility become something that just happens naturally.
It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen without a lot of effort from our members and partners, but PRIME can make a difference. Not just to talented young people, but to our members’ businesses, and to society as a whole.
Maybe the sugar helped to energise the room. But I suspect it was the enthusiasm for making a change and making a difference that all of our members have in common that meant the PRIME Conference 2018 was such a success.