IHG’s Change 100 is a UK award-winning programme of paid summer work placements and mentoring for disabled students and recent graduates
Change 100 is a UK award-winning programme of paid summer work placements and mentoring for students and recent graduates with a long-term health condition or disability, including physical, visual or hearing impairments, mental health conditions, learning disabilities and learning difficulties like dyslexia. It aims to unlock the untapped potential of students and graduates with disabilities, while giving organisations access to a talent pool bursting with ability, creativity and unique insights.
The programme was developed in 2017 by two senior leaders within IHG Europe – Jean-Charles Denis (now VP of Commercial, Europe) and Joanna Kurowska (now Director of Operations, Northern Europe) – after they recognised that there was a lack of disability representation within IHG. They were inspired to undertake the search for a partnership that could connect IHG with young people with disabilities looking for experience within a global leader in the hospitality industry. After searching they came across a new campaign by the Leonard Cheshire Charity – Change 100. The principal behind Change 100 is to place students, with either a visible or invisible disability, into a worthwhile paid internship for 100 days. The charity also then supports the student for a further three months after the placement to mentor and support them to get the most out of their placement and to leverage the internship to its fullest.
With Jean-Charles as Sponsor, he and Joanna worked together in a team with IHG’s HR department to secure places for three interns during the summer of 2017, in positions in UK&I Hotels, Food & Beverage (F&B) and Productivity teams. One of our interns, Michael Page, performed so exceptionally well that he was offered an extended contract with IHG and worked on high-profile projects throughout 2017-2018. In 2019, we offered Michael a position in our Finance office in Branston, UK, where he went on to secure a managerial role at the beginning of this year. Michael continues to be an excellent ambassador for Change 100 and has been interviewed and given talks on numerous occasions.
Following on 2017’s success, IHG’s HR Change 100 team worked hard to create greater awareness of the programme in 2018 via various internal communication channels. After a successful candidate match process, we welcomed seven fantastic candidates to join various corporate and hotel-based roles. All interns had access to regular check-in sessions with HR, surveys, mentoring sessions and group lunches, to provide valuable opportunities to network and discuss how they were finding their placement. We were delighted to offer permanent roles to two interns. To wrap up the year, we held Graduation Ceremony, with guest speaker Nancy Doyle, CEO of Genius Within, who gave an inspiring and highly motivational address about living and working with disability.
After another successful year, IHG’s Change 100’s Sponsor Jean-Charles Denis and the Europe HR team set an ambitious target to increase the number of 2019 interns to 10. A 360 communications strategy was developed in order to raise further awareness of the programme amongst hiring managers across our offices and hotels, with a special emphasis on the benefits a Change 100 intern can bring to their teams. Following a successful campaign, we were delighted to meet our target of securing 10 interns for the summer of 2019, making IHG the largest single employer of Leonard Cheshire Charity’s Change 100! To reflect the larger number of interns this year, we developed and offered an increase in support and touch points for both hiring teams and interns. An onboarding website was created for Change 100 interns, providing details ahead of time including floor plans, bus routes to the office, what to wear, etc. Hiring teams were offered disability training workshops to discuss and raise awareness of both visible and hidden disabilities, which was also recorded and shared with all colleagues across the IHG UK company. Interns were also able to provide instant feedback via surveys and check-ins to flag things that they like and dislike about their placement, so that we can improve in real time.
Finally, to mark the end of this year’s summer internships and celebrate the interns’ successes, we held our largest Graduation Ceremony to date, joined by IHG’s Managing Director for Europe, Karin Sheppard, who enjoyed spending time discussing the programme with candidates. The event was opened up to all hiring managers across the UK, and all employees at our global headquarters in Denham, Buckinghamshire. This year we were also lucky enough to be joined by Victoria Passant from Change 100, who provided an impassioned speech around the back ground of the programme and the huge benefit it has on these young people lives.
Looking to 2020, we have already kicked off our preparations to secure an even higher number of interns for next summer, and we have bold ambitions to make it our most successful year yet. As the largest single employer in 2019, we want to continue this through in to 2020, and have set ourselves an ambitious target to offer opportunities to 100 Change 100 interns by 2025.
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