TipStart is an organisation that leverages technology and innovation to connect young people with the right people in the right places to help jumpstart their career, build professional networks and remove barriers to entry into traditionally elitist sectors. It pairs TipSters, who are people that already work in a certain sector, with Tip Starters, who are up-and-coming graduates who want to work in that field. In this interview, we spoke about fighting discrimination, the role of society in looking after its weakest members, and social mobility.

1. Why is TipStart important?

Something is needed to redress the imbalance in the world of work. Needed now more than ever as there is massive inequality that has been building up. As we saw during lockdown with the BLM movement and murder of George Floyd, social inequalities were being exposed to us all.  People’s place in society was in the news, day in, day out, and at TipStart we wanted to do something about it.

We are not saying we will change the world forever but we want to make an impact. We want to concentrate on a specific number of sectors, and those are; consulting, finance, government and policy, journalism and law. We want to manage privilege and nepotism in these areas and ensure that people have equal opportunities.

There are people who are forgotten by society and fall in between the cracks. We really want to redress the balance.

2. Are there any ways to address inequality and discrimination in the workplace that are simply not taken because they are not economically viable, or would require too much social change — but that in the future we could try and implement?

Speaking personally, grammar schools and social mobility. My mother came to the UK as a refugee and it is a great way to improve social mobility. T-levels are also a way to look at vocational education and you can get your hands dirty. Going to university is not the be-all and end-all. Since the ’90s, we have been told that university is the only route. Under Philip Hammond’s tenure as Chancellor, he introduced funding for T-levels that would ultimately have the same standing and give people an alternative path in their lives. We need to get away from the idea that the only way to succeed in life is by going to university; get away from the idea that education in university is the best way to doing this.

Everyone has a responsibility in bringing about change

We need to change this rigid view of society. My background is traditional British Indian, you must do this or that. In my childhood, I was told that to deviate from one path was a bad thing. We need to change that mindset. Today’s younger generation  will have several jobs and we might seek the job with the greatest impact, not necessarily with the best pay.

Research showed that that the five sectors that we chose were those with the worst kinds of discrimination. It may not be a gender imbalance or an ethnic imbalance. Companies may not have people represented as a society as a whole. Many people rely on family resources for work experience to give them interviews, work experience etc.

Disadvantaged people don’t have the same opportunities but may still want them. Justine Greening said this when she was the education secretary: “Social mobility has to be at the heart of any education policy”. It’s not just government that has to play a part in this; schools, citizens, public organisations all play a role.

One of the most positive things that I have seen is that lots of people we speak to recognise these problems in their company, and they want to change it. Therefore, they speak to their bosses and engage to try and improve the problems that are there in society, and make change from within.

TipStart provides people with a ready-made way to do it. There are people in the country that don’t have the resources to benefit from potential opportunities. People cannot afford to get to London for interviews, don’t have friends or family to stay with overnight, cannot afford the train ticket.

Companies should be working with schools and improve the social cohesion. Every stakeholder should be doing their best.

By bringing together TipSters with TipStarters we are ensuring there is no power imbalance. They should help each other and have a dialogue, and challenge pre-existing conceptions. People’s horizons will be widened, and they can change things.

3. Do you have any ambitions to manage these inequalities from a young age to ensure they don’t need to be solved later on?

At the end of the day, we cannot completely change the world or boil the ocean. There are so many organisations that are helping people from an early age. Shout Out UK, for an example, gives these students lessons on civil society, education, the role of government, politics etc. TipStart is the next phase in the journey. In an ideal world, if people have the right attitude or standard of what they need, they would get the job they deserve.

I agree that these things need to start early on. There is a contract between civil society and government. From my own experience, where I have looked at extremism and terrorism, if people don’t have the right tools for good opportunities, then people will look for other avenues to explore, and often turn to extremism and gangs.

We need to provide those opportunities from the very start. Housing, access to infrastructure, education and food are all part of this. This would be to stop people feeling ignored, which leads to people dropping out and not feeling listened to by society. This means that you then need to bring them back and look after them, and ensure they feel welcome, and part of this grand thing we call society.

This is a fatal flaw in any society, where some people are not looked after. Many have been furloughed and people have not had the same standard of education due to lockdown. Society is only as strong as its weakest members, and we need to look after them as well.

4. You have spoken about natural disadvantages and inequalities. Do you think that it is the role of government, companies, charities or individuals to drive this change and improvement for society?

All of them have a role in this.

Take the example of government increasing the national minimum wage to £25 an hour, as a fictional example.

You then need to have companies who will pay that, and you will have charities that will need to adapt and then you will need individuals to change their lifestyle as well. They need to work with schools and universities and so many other entities.

All these people need to help. Central government can often be far removed from this as they are tackling issues on a larger scale. The detail and the grassroots level is done by charities, local government, local organisations, and civil society.

Companies need to work with organisations like schools and other educational institutions. They shouldn’t only recruit from the same group of universities. They should say that we want the best possible people and in order to make sure that they are the best, they should have access to the same education. That means working with government, to make sure education syllabuses are up to standard.

Work with councils to ensure that schools are well equipped and do this properly. In the future, some businesses might look after certain schools, whether it be providing resources or other opportunities to ensure that those students may be good workers for them in the future.

You want to get the best workers and the best people to come work with your organisation or company. The only way things change will be if we want them to. Everyone who wants to change something has the power to do so in that they can change attitudes and challenge and improve ideas. It may feel lonely to start with, but there are always a hundred other liked-minded motivated people to join you.

In our interconnected world, we can create movements across borders and different places in society. To create a global movement and have an impact is more accessible, now more than ever.

Everyone has a responsibility in bringing about change.

DISCLAIMER: The articles on our website are not endorsed by, or the opinions of Shout Out UK (SOUK), but exclusively the views of the author.