Pentland Brands and The People Launch Mentoring Programme for Underrepresented Communities

The free mentoring programme is designed to help young people from Black, Asian, minority ethnic and underserved communities develop their skills, confidence and network

Kian Bakhtiari

Founder of The People The People


Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. In the UK, young people are 86% less likely to be “not in education, employment or training” (NEET) if they have four or more professional contacts before they leave school. But not everyone has the same starting point. And we are losing out on creative ideas and fresh solutions to some of the world’s pressing challenges. We need to level the playing field. It begins with breaking down the barriers that prevent young people – often from underserved communities – from achieving their full potential.

Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not

Kian Bakhtiari, Founder of The People

The Pentland Collective is a free mentoring programme, created by Pentland Brands and The People to help young people from Black, Asian, minority ethnic and underserved communities develop their skills, confidence and network. Mentoring is part of a broader project by Pentland Brands and The People which aims to address the career barriers facing young from underrepresented backgrounds. 

Pentland Brands is the name behind global sports, outdoor and lifestyle brands including Speedo, Berghaus and ellesse. The company is committed to building diverse teams which drive performance, innovation and growth. The programme is an opportunity to diversify their search for fresh creative talent and drive inclusion by supporting the careers of people from underrepresented groups.

The People is a creative company powered by a global community of 150+ young diverse changemakers. We exist to amplify the voices of young people and help brands build a better world. Working with the likes of Adidas, BBC, L’Oréal, Dentsu and the United Nations.

Last year, we created The Mentoring Hotline which has mentored over 250+ young people for free in partnership with Freestar, an alcohol-free beer start-up.

The Pentland Collective was developed as a response to Trade Union Congress research that shows unemployment among ethnic minority groups increased to double the rate of white workers during the pandemic. The free mentoring programme will run for three months with 15 young people and 15 professionals from Pentland Brands connecting every 2 weeks.

The initiative forms part of the Pentland Brands 100-1-0 Positive Business strategy, which aims to deliver three major goals by its centenary year in 2032; helping 100 million consumers live positive, active, sustainable lifestyles, improving the lives of 1 million people in our communities and becoming a Net Zero business.

Caroline Nankinga, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Pentland Brands – “As a business, we’re working hard to incorporate diversity and inclusion into everything we do, from our brand campaigns to our recruitment processes. Our partnership with The People will bring fresh thinking that helps us better understand, reflect and celebrate the diversity of the consumers who see, buy and love our products.”

Rochelle Livingstone, Programme Manager at The People - “We are proud to partner with Pentland Brands, a company that is engaged and willing to listen, learn and support a new generation of talent from underrepresented communities. I have had the privilege to be a mentee and mentor -and it has had a major impact on my personal and professional growth. The Pentland Collective expands on our mission to unleash the creative potential”

The Pentland Collective represents a new model of creativity, hope and opportunity. A partnership between a global company, mission-led startup and local communities. Here are my biggest learnings from the journey for other companies looking to champion diversity and inclusion.

Lived Experience

Always make sure the programme or commitment involves people with lived experience. The Pentland collective has been shaped by our community of young people from Black, Asian, ethnic minority, LGBTQIA+, working class and neurodiverse backgrounds. Designed in collaboration with employee networks at Pentland Brands to ensure maximum impact. Companies actively seeking the authentic voice of lived experience will ultimately gain deeper insights and build better solutions. In short, lived experience should be at the heart of your diversity, equity and inclusion work.

Shared Values

Like all relationships, business partnerships are built on trust and a shared set of values. From the very start, it was clear Pentland Brands believed in our mission to unleash the creative potential of young people. Collaboration is easier and more impactful when values are aligned. This becomes even more important when working on social impact projects. Pentland Brands are genuinely invested in social mobility, diversity and inclusion. The programme is not a nice to have, but a business priority. The partnership combines our expertise in youth culture and community engagement with the resources and scale of a global company.

Start Small

As a start-up, we have applied Minimum Viable Product (MVP) thinking when designing and delivering the mentoring programme. This allows us to test and learn throughout the process. It can be tempting to invest huge amounts of time and resources in an idea or project. Especially one tackling an important challenge like diversity, equity and inclusion. But thinking big can often prevent you from getting started in the first place. In other words, start small and scale based on demand, results and value.

We have a chance to create equal access to opportunities for young people, no matter their background or identity. Sometimes, perfection can be the enemy of action. We can all do something small today that will improve the outcome for young people tomorrow. As the saying goes: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven't spent the night with a mosquito.”

Guest Author

Kian Bakhtiari

Founder of The People The People


Kian is Founder of The People, a creative company powered by a global community of 150+ young changemakers. He was formerly Strategist and Youth Insight Lead at Dentsu, one of the largest media and advertising groups in the world. For his contributions to marketing, he has been named as one of the Top 50 Future Leaders by the Financial Times. Kian is also Advisor at UN Climate Change, Agenda Contributor to the World Economic Forum and One Young World Ambassador. Kian regularly writes about marketing through a Millennial and Gen-Z lens for Forbes CMO Network. He is deeply passionate about using the power of creativity for good.

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