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Youth Forum 2021 : a Youth call for action for corporate engagement towards inclusion !

Jeanne Vigouroux, Project Manager in LP4Y Lab in New York, goes back to LP4Y's side event focusing on the engagement of the corporate world in Youth inclusion, during the UN's Youth Forum 2021!

As you now all know, in 2020, LP4Y received the special consultative status of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), recognizing LP4Y as an expert, as a representative of the civil society to the UN, carrying the voices of Youth coming from extreme poverty and exclusion.

With this recognition, LP4Y is able to access the United Nations resources, to participate in conferences and international events by presenting written and oral statements. This is a great opportunity to share, from our grassroots experience, best practices and innovative solutions developed during the last twelve years with our partners.

The 10th ECOSOC Youth Forum in the United Nations took place on April 7-8th. Within the framework of the Forum, LP4Y organized a side event as a call for action, focusing on the “Key involvement of the corporate world towards Youth inclusion”.

Convinced that non-profit and corporate ecosystems have to collaborate for change, LP4Y acted, from the beginning, jointly with companies for a more effective response to exclusion and precarity issues.

Listening to the voices of the Youth is essential, especially the excluded and underserved ones. They are the future change makers. Since 2009, LP4Y has accompanied out of school Youth, street Youth, young mothers, differently-abled Youth, inmates, etc. These are the voices we need to hear.

If policies and nonprofits play a crucial role in Youth inclusion, companies do as well. Therefore, LP4Y organized a side event to give the floor to the Youth to share their professional integration experience and explain what they expect from the corporate sector.

Our side event highlighted diversity and inclusion matters when it comes to recruitment and professional integration. Underserved Youth and companies team members discussed the importance of corporate action and engagement.

To introduce the webinar, Susana Puerto, Youth employment specialist at the ILO (International Labour Organisation), based in Geneva, reminded us that Youth will be the ones carrying scars from this economic crisis.

This is why the ILO called for an urgent and large scale and targeted policy response to support Youth. As she said, change will not be achieved only because of the will of Governments or the United Nations, or some corporations, but by a collective action, and surveys show that interventions bringing together different stakeholders are more effective than otherwise, including on labour market outcomes of Youth. Youth employment interventions, particularly training programmes, have to understand the needs of employers and the productive sector in general, to integrate it in their training curricula. Susana highlighted the fact that we should listen to corporations who are committed to generate positive change, and hear from Youth as well who are clearly part of the solution.

And so we then heard from Dian Safitri, a young woman from Jakarta, Indonesia, LP4Y graduate. Raised in the slum of Kampung Sawah in a modest 5-members family, her parents have an informal micro-business : selling mattresses and pillows. She explained to us about her background : back in 2020, when the pandemic showed up, she was feeling under pressure because she felt insecure when she wanted to go outside. After LP4Y training, Dian started to do her job search, being so eager to reach her target job as a graphic designer or a content creator, because she is passionate about design. After 1 month, Dian felt prepared and confident for an interview. She started a few days later. She is working from 9 am to 5pm, has free weekends, and the job description matches her salary. This is the beginning of her journey. From here, she hopes to gain more experience, more knowledge, more relations, all that could contribute to her self-development through her professional life, her corporate environnement helping a lot.

Indeed, from the corporate side, we listened to a general testimony from Deepak Kumar, who has been working for GE Healthcare for the last 6 years. Based in Bangalore, India, he is a design engineer, and is volunteering part-time with LP4Y, providing professional training on soft skills to the Youth. He told us how this experience changed his approach to poverty and exclusion, how he became aware of a situation happening in his own country and got involved by getting to know the local communities and the Youth. For him, in urban cities, corporate companies come right after Governments when it comes to Youth inclusion action. Corporates' involvement can bring in rapid changes because of their huge presence. It also influences a lot of people within the company by creating a channel through which they can help marginalized communities and it also lays the foundations for corporations to look for talents.

That is the mindset of Decathlon : Raju Sharma, a former LP4Y Youth, working at Decathlon in New Delhi since 2017 as an Inbound Operations Team Member, and Kunal Gujar, the Outbound Logistics Manager in the Mumbai warehouse of Decathlon, told us about the importance of inclusive recruitment from the corporate world. Kunal is the one who recruited Raju 4 years ago in the Decathlon team in Delhi. Either in retail or logistics, they always feel they should enhance diversity in their teams with people from different backgrounds. For Kunal, what is interesting is that with people like Raju, there is always a different angle of thinking during team brainstormings - which is very rich.

After recruitment, the mentoring is a crucial aspect of Youth integration as well. Both based in Manila, Philippines, Lorraine, global HR team leader in CGI, has been the mentor of Nila, LP4Y graduate, raised in the slum of Tondo, who joined CGI in October 2017 and reports daily to Lorraine. They offered us a dialogue about their professional collaboration and the importance of mentoring to accompany the newcomers towards their professional development and confidence. Nila explained that her team has been very helpful and they taught her all the things that she needed to know. Her superiors have been very considerate and supportive as well, and very patient with her and her challenges. Indeed, as Lorraine mentioned, mentors’ role is to be by her side, ensuring she keeps the passion and motivation burning, and to fuel it up further. Member of CGI for 14 years already, and still counting for more years to come, Lorraine told us such motivation rooted from relevant guidance from the beginning. Best practices sharing, open communication, diversity and team playing attitude has always been crucial for her, and that is what she teaches her teammates.

Finally, Jérôme Lemouchoux - CEO of FoodChéri, French subsidiary of the global company Sodexo, and Chairman of the Youth Inclusion Network (YIN) - concluded this event, stating that it confirmed his point of view regarding the key role the corporate world has to play to help the Youth achieve their life project plan. When we think about Youth inclusion, we often rely on NGOs, public authorities, education, etc. Jérôme believes we underestimate the impact the companies can have on their life and the opportunity they have recruiting these Young adults. Far from the clichés he had from people living in slums, Jérôme, while welcoming Youth in Sodexo Philippines, realized that working with them will not only be good for them but it would be a great asset for his company. For him, the Youth are resilient, full of energy with a genuine desire to learn and to grow. On top of that, Jérôme was also amazed by the impact of this initiative on his team : many of the team members expressed how proud they were to be part of Sodexo. The YIN became a network of companies facing the same challenges, where they can share their experience or best practices from the experience of others. It is easier to involve a company being a member of a group of corporations fighting against exclusion. This network grew month after month to reach today more than 20 companies in the Philippines. In the last 4 years, it opened in Vietnam, Nepal and India. Jérôme encourages companies to join them!

To put it in a nutshell, this event showed that inclusion is a common and global matter: corporations must join the public sector, policy-makers, nonprofits and social organizations to work together to overcome this challenge. In this second side event organized by LP4Y, we highlighted the key role of corporations in the professional and social integration of the Youth. Our grassroot experience shows that companies can be involved at the local level and have a key role to play. We look forward to working or partnering with additional corporate partners in the future to empower the Youth. They are our future, so let's give them the means to achieve their dreams.

Thank you to all the panelists and participants in this event!

Together we can!


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