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How BMO Is Opening Doors For Marginalized Youth

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When Black Lives Matter protests swept across first the U.S. and then the rest of the world in 2020, many organizations stepped forward to commit more time, energy and money to address racial inequities, both internally and within their communities. Michael Keaveny, Managing Director and Head of Human Resources International at BMO UK Capital Markets in London, was proud of the commitments their North American BMO counterparts were taking to eliminate racial injustices. The UK Capital Markets office was determined to mirror the commitments. 

The result is a new initiative, in partnership with social mobility charity The Brokerage, that will provide post-secondary scholarships along with a two-year summer internship at BMO’s London office, for two Brokerage students annually. The program, which is funded by BMO Capital Market’s Equity Through Education program, has received more than 100 applications since it launched in April, says Keaveny. They’re currently interviewing shortlisted candidates.

“We’ve aligned the financial support with workplace or career support. Students will receive a contribution to their university tuition, and they’ll work as an intern here,” he notes. “They’ll spend 10 weeks at the firm over the two summers, which will give them real-life experience working in the sector.”

Changing career trajectories

The Brokerage was an ideal organization to collaborate with because of their long-standing commitment to helping working class young people reach their full potential. They partner with corporations to provide education, mentorship and opportunities these students either don’t know about or can’t access. The Brokerage’s candidates are bright and ambitious young people, who:

  • Are state school educated

  • Are in the first generation of their families to go to university or have professional careers

  • May have been eligible for free school meals during their secondary education, indicating that household income was low

  • Over 90% of The Brokerage’s candidates are from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

More than 85,000 young people have participated in programs run by The Brokerage over the last 25 years. While BMO has been working with the charity for a number of years, holding workshops to introduce participants to the capital markets business and career coaching, this is the beginning of a more formal partnership, Keaveny notes.

The financial support is obviously an important part of the program, however the goal through the internships is to potentially change their career trajectories by opening doors they might not have realized existed.

“BMO is committed to helping the next generation reach their full potential,” said Bill Smith, Head of BMO Financial Group’s Capital Markets business for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. “In partnering with The Brokerage, we can help change the trajectories of young people who face barriers to higher education while providing work experience and inspiring students across the world to pursue an education and career in the field of their choice.”

More than diversity

BMO has a large-scale corporate commitment to zero barriers to inclusion, and has laid out specific diversity and representation goals they want to achieve by 2025. And while diversity is important, inclusion and representation start well before hiring – they must begin with eliminating the barriers many young and marginalized people face even when pursuing higher education.

BMO Capital Markets in particular has helped open doors for more than 5,000 students through its Equity Through Education program, which, on one trading day a year, donates all North American and European institutional equity commissions to charitable organizations that provide scholarships, bursaries and leadership development to post-secondary students.


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