Since 2001, the bank’s Community and Charity programme in the UK has helped support local schools via a mentoring initiative. At the end of last year, we undertook a pilot initiative to extend it to include young people aged 14 to 19.

Last November, 28 young people came to our offices to take part in an “Insight Day”, designed to give them an introduction to investment banking and a glimpse into the corporate world. We wanted to provide an engaging and inspiring day, and to give the group the opportunity to meet and exchange with BNP Paribas employees.

One of the highlights of the day was a speed-networking forum between the young people and our bankers, which gave them the chance to chat about a career in banking with people at the very heart of the business and to discuss topics that they wouldn’t normally have the chance to address within a classroom setting. The group also learned how to prepare for interviews, and received useful guidance directly from an employer.

Finally the young people were given a tour of the trading floors by some of BNP Paribas’ graduate employees, which proved very popular as it gave them the chance to see live trades in action and really get a sense for what it means to work for an investment bank.

The pilot event was organised in conjunction with Vital Regeneration, one of the BNP Paribas UK’s key charity partners, Westminster Education Business Partnership and three local schools. The event supports BNP Paribas’ ambition to combat social exclusion and promote educational achievement.

The Community and Charity team are looking at further ways to reach marginalised groups in the local community through staff volunteering and mentoring programmes. A new initiative – Rise Up – has just been launched and is looking for business mentors to support students in a customized learning programme.