LONDON (Reuters) - British former Prime Minister David Cameron and other public figures backed an initiative launching on Tuesday to increase the number of internships open only to Black applicants in finance, law and other sectors.
The 10,000 Black Interns project is based on a smaller programme that provided similar internships in the fund management industry.
Organisers said they had received support from employers in the accountancy, education, finance, legal, marketing and recruitment sectors, among others.
"This initiative will help build a more inclusive economy that works for everyone," Cameron said.
The programme also received backing from former Labour Party politicians and the Confederation of British Industry.
Internships restricted to Black applicants are rare in Britain. Diversity programmes in Britain's public sector are usually open to Asian and other minority ethnicity applicants, and sometimes to white applicants from poorer backgrounds.
Unadjusted figures from Britain's Office for National Statistics showed that in 2018, Black employees on average earned 9% less per hour than white British workers, while those of Chinese and Indian heritage earned 31% and 12% more respectively.
Black employees typically earned more than those with Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage.
These gaps narrowed but generally did not disappear when the figures were adjusted for workers' level of education, age, type of work and other factors, with a 7% shortfall remaining for British-born Black employees versus white British workers.
In the last census in 2011, 3.3% of the population in England and Wales identified as Black.
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)