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Nathalie Richards, CEO of SEO London on DE&I and ROI

In an insightful fireside chat, Nathalie Richards, CEO of SEO London, shared her journey and the impactful work of SEO London in bridging the gap between talent and opportunity. Born in the UK to Caribbean parents, Richards grew up in Ilford, East London, unaware of the myriad career opportunities in banking, finance, and consulting that lay just a stone’s throw away. Her journey took her from participating in a program similar to SEO London, to launching a social enterprise, and eventually leading SEO London itself.

SEO London, often mistaken for “search engine optimization,” actually stands for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity. Founded in 1963 during the US civil rights movement, it aimed to create opportunities for African-American students. Today, SEO London connects talent with opportunity, focusing on those facing barriers to achieving their potential. In 2023, SEO London celebrated 25 years of impact, having expanded its operations to France as well.

Richards emphasized the importance of impact, which SEO London measures through the support it provides to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and ethnic minority groups. The organization reaches out to over 100 universities in the UK and about 20-30 in France, striving for a gender-balanced participant group. SEO London’s success is evident in the over 800 young people it helped find paid employment in prestigious firms last year.

The organization also focuses on the long-term success of its participants, who become part of the SEO alumni network, contributing back to the community. Richards highlighted the importance of partnerships with firms committed to dismantling barriers and tapping into diverse talent pools for improved business performance. SEO London’s approach includes pre-internship training, covering both soft and technical skills, ensuring participants are well-prepared for their internships and future careers.

Richards also discussed the importance of expanding SEO London’s reach within the UK and in France, and the need for an impact team to tailor support to participants’ needs, especially in light of the cost of living crisis. When asked about a potential testimonial for SEO London, Richards chose Devesh Shah, a former participant who went on to have a significant impact in finance and now supports SEO’s global operations.

This fireside chat with Nathalie Richards not only shed light on the transformative work of SEO London but also underscored the power of opportunity in changing lives and enhancing business performance through diversity and inclusion.

Key timestamps:

00:09: Introduction to SEO London and its CEO
01:35: Understanding SEO London and its Mission
04:06: Defining Impact and Opportunities
07:08: Monitoring Progress and Alumni Support
08:26: Identifying Suitable Opportunities
10:36: Ensuring Genuine Partnerships
12:19: Measuring ROI and Success Stories
15:26: Collaborative Partnership with Firms
15:57: Pitching the Program to a Potential Partner
18:39: Engaging with SEO London vs. Universities
19:47: Staffing and Growth
20:52: Addressing Lack of Diversity in Firms
21:59: Data Collection for Diversity
22:31: Progression and Retention Strategies
23:22: Engagement with Company Leadership
25:22: Expansion and Hiring Plans
26:36: International Expansion
27:31: Impact Team and Support Tailoring