The Noon Centre for Equality and Diversity in Business, funded by Lord Noon (Kt. MBE) and supported by the Noon Foundation, is a transformational space for engaging and supporting students into industry networks, career development and self-employment. It is known for interdisciplinary research in workplace diversity.
Since its inception in 2012, the Centre has pursued the strategic goal of supporting and developing students from diverse backgrounds beyond their traditional degree programmes so that they are better prepared for workplace challenges. Our vision is to provide a robust forum for engagement, support and research in the interdisciplinary area of workplace diversity.
The Noon Centre enjoys a strong intellectual foundation based on rigorous research within the School of Social Sciences. Our programme of research is guided by the philosophy of 'engaged scholarship' aimed at re-drawing boundaries within the thematic areas of engagement and achieving an international centre of excellence status in an area of recognised need. The Centre is positioned to apply theoretically informed approaches to the challenges that individuals from various ethnic, race and gender groups face in entering and sustaining careers. The overarching aim of the Centre is to help focus a sensitive dialogue with employers. This is achieved by enhancing business-university collaborations and building bridges between our students and the competitive job market, helping them to navigate the complex maze of labour market barriers and enhancing employability.
- To develop, test and promote practical support toolkits to enhance widening participation in the labour market. The Centre will also help new graduates to overcome the growing incidence of low access to the high-end labour market with an appropriate skills-support programme.
- To create strong industry links to ensure that students, through structured contact with business, are equipped with adequate work-ready skills to enter highly competitive job markets or become sufficiently motivated (and supported) to pursue their own entrepreneurial niches as successful start-ups.
- To provide critical resource support to reduce the adverse impact of ethnicity or gender on labour market opportunities, thus bringing down the barriers to high-quality jobs often encountered by graduates from the traditionally disadvantaged groups.
- To generate and implement innovative programmes (Global Reach and Elite Student schemes) that hone the skills and capabilities of students to enhance effectively their chances of developing successful careers.
- To be a key player in the development of critical and dialogical-oriented research that contributes refreshing insights or new perspectives into issues around workplace diversity and inclusiveness.
Centre coordinator and assistant
- Aisha Labefo-Audu, Coordinator for the Centre
- Nuruzzaman Khan, Centre Coordinator Assistant
Work placement student
- Mariam Hussain
The Centre is a student-facing support platform, offering support such as structured business outreach; student-employee matching in the form of internships; mentoring programmes; partnership working, and signposting and practical life-skills to extend labour market opportunities to our students.
Operating both as a research base and a transformational space for engaging students with industry networks, career development and self-employment, the Noon Centre implements three active experiential student development programmes: Global Scholars, Elite Scholars and Young Black and Ethnic Professionals programmes - all of which have received commendations from industry leaders, policymakers and, importantly, the beneficiary UEL students.
London scholars and civic engagement programmes
The University of East London selected projects to receive London Scholars and Civic Engagement funding in 2016/17. Each project provided students with the opportunity to develop skills and networks, to apply learning in real-world settings and to work in collaboration with staff, alongside other students and with partners from a range of external organisations.
Young Black and Ethnic Professionals Programme (YBEP)
YBEP was a talent management programme that ensured participants succeeded as students at University of East London (UEL), and embarked on a pathway that enabled them to meet their full potential so that they left UEL ready to make a significant impact in professional endeavours.
It was delivered over the course of six months culminating in attendance at a graduation event in June 2017.
The core aim of this programme was to address and get a better understanding of issues around the retention and progression of black and ethnic minority male students at University of East London, a university with a proportionally high number of students from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The YBEP programme provided support and facilitated the development of skills necessary to engage within the university culture, with mentoring being central to the project. While there are a number of potential benefits to the mentoring process at all stages of life, mentoring has the potential to make a pivotal difference in someone's life. Precisely in the early stages of an academic journey, a student for whom the academic culture may feel a foreign territory, in which case this intervention may be the decisive factor if the student is to choose to remain.
YBEP had three core components: personal mentoring, a series of practical workshops/talks as networking opportunities, and a summer internship.
Personal mentoring was central to the programme. Students met on a regular basis with their mentor to discuss any issues they may have or worked on small tasks to aid the development of their skill to meaningfully and effectively engage within the academic culture. The mentor took on a role of an 'interpreter' of the academic culture in the process while at the same time helping the mentee to be socialized into the academic culture, accommodating the development of the patterns of behaviour fundamental to success in higher education, gradually enabling the mentee to meaningfully engage and thrive at university.
Workshops provided practical advice on how to navigate a life of a student and succeed. This was structured to help students take their personal, academic, career or business development forward with confidence.
Networking events were structured around talks and take place in venues around London, to provide network opportunities for both students, academics and professionals. The talks were motivational and uncovered the stories behind the influencers who discussed what it takes to create change and achieve game-changing success.
Summer internships were available to students who undergo the whole programme. Much of the support throughout the programme was provided by UEL Employability, to get access to a summer internship with internal UEL employer and/or external employers. Before this took place, students attended employability skills training workshops to get help with preparing CVs and interview techniques.
During the programme, student achievement was monitored using measures such as questionnaires and behavioural measures such as 'attendance', 'online learning portal activity' and 'module marks'. Data was collected from all participants in the project to gain a deeper understanding of the issues affecting retention and progression of BMEs at UEL.
33Sixty: UEL & Common Purpose Leadership programme
33Sixty is a leadership programme that equips aspiring Commonwealth leaders (aged 18-30) with the skills and the networks to make a difference, now.
You will work within an international group to develop solutions to some of the planet's most pressing issues. You will then get the chance to present your ideas to the Commonwealth Secretary-General as she searches for exciting new initiatives to champion on the global stage.
To apply, please complete the internal application form.
The Scheme offers students the opportunity to be part of an exciting programme aimed at developing our global society. The scheme provides cross-cultural experiences that enable students to develop socially responsible projects that are sustainable and make a genuine difference in the lives of others.
Students increase their service and leadership skills, mentor other UEL students and attend special seminars and global service projects. Study Abroad UEL has a long history of working collaboratively with partners all over the world, creating value-added opportunities for students.
By working with our partner institutions, we offer our students the opportunity to attend summer schools, study abroad and exchange opportunities.
Many students need assistance to afford the expenses associated with such programmes so the University has created some limited bursaries for which students can apply to assist them with such experiences.
The Noon Centre for Equality and Diversity in Business, along with the School of Social Sciences and RDBSL, seeks to promote a thriving research environment, focusing on areas of recognised need and relevance to the strategic contexts of the University of East London. Our research approach is applied and collaborative in nature. Often with cross-disciplinary teams, our research has an overarching aim to identify and implement solutions to a range of challenges. The Noon Centre makes a significant contribution to research on the interconnections between equality, diversity and workplaces, using minority groups as a prism. The emphasis is on applied and impactful policy analyses and research that creates positive change in the workplace particularly for BAME employees. We have a number of internationally recognised scholars within the thematic areas in which the Centre is engaged.
The twenty-first century has seen a growth of socio-political, economic and environmental insecurity in the context of the global financial crisis, population ageing, climate change, migration and recent humanitarian crises. In the UK and around the world, workplaces and national occupational structures are changing, sometimes at a dramatic pace, as a consequence of global developments in the organisation of business and industry, and in the face of unprecedented, probably irreversible, changes in the composition and structure of the world's population.
These changes have far-reaching consequences for equality and diversity in the labour market. Population ageing brings to the fore issues of age discrimination in the workplace; immigration highlights labour market inequalities based on race, ethnicity and belief; increasing disparities of income and wealth put the spotlight back onto equality of opportunity; technological change, globalisation and economic tertiarisation exacerbate regional inequalities.
In this context, governments, international organisations, and academics have turned their attention to equality and diversity in the workplace and in the labour market. In the UK, equality and diversity in the workplace agenda saw a major reform in 2015, when the Prime Minister introduced 'transparency' legislation - the obligation to publish - to apply to all businesses with over 250 employees.
This has been followed by policy demands in 2016 for universities and other organisations to tackle diversity gaps, including the Gender Pay Gap reporting. In turn, many smaller contractors to government and local authorities will need to publish their figures to get onto tender lists, as Trade and Professional Associations are suggesting.
In 2012 through a generous donation from the Noon Foundation, the Noon Centre for Equality and Diversity was established at the University of East London, an institution focused on civic engagement. The Noon Centre through the vision of Lord Gulam Noon is an inspiration for anyone who has had an encounter with one of the hundreds of students who it touches via one of its programmes annually.
The Noon Centre is a student-facing support platform, offering support such as structured business outreach; student-employee matching in the form of internships; mentoring programmes; individualisation of advisory support for students; partnership working; and practical life skills to extend labour market opportunities through innovative programmes such as the Elite Scholars programme (talent management programme for BME students), Global Scholars programme (abroad programme focused on Social Innovation).
The donation has also been used to support skill development needs through the establishment of the Bloomberg training centre which is now located in the University Square Stratford Building. This innovative centre is also an engagement point for businesses to embark on a mission with UEL of creating workplace diversity.
The Annual Global Equality and Diversity Conference (GED) has been successfully organised in partnership with Neil Stewart Associates, with over a hundred professionals a year gathering to discuss and debate workplace equality, diversity and inclusiveness.
- The Noon Centre for Equality and Diversity was established in 2012 through a generous donation from the Noon Foundation
- The Noon Centre focused on upskilling students and providing transformational experiences that increase their confidence and employability
- Annual GED conference sponsored by the Noon Centre
- Repositioning the Noon Centre could be at the forefront of shaping the policy agenda in the UK on issues of workplace equality and inclusiveness
- UEL continues to support the student engagement that has been successful through the Noon Centre along with the Bloomberg training centre
- Engagement with business, employers and the wider policy-setting domain where Lord Noon was an advocate for equality and diversity.
- UEL aims to create a policy, research and training centre that could impact real change in the UK through informing, educating, training and influencing legislation that would address the issues around workplace biases.