Finance firms called out over failure to remove career blockers for ethnic minorities

More than two years on from widespread efforts by financial services firms to bolster racial diversity, almost a third of professionals from ethnic minority backgrounds in the sector say they have considered quitting due to a lack of career progression.

A survey of more than 1,000 UK financial services professionals by Reboot — a non-profit focused on ethnic diversity in the sector — shows that City employers still have a lot of work to do on tackling workplace inequality.

Financial professionals from ethnically diverse backgrounds are still not offered as many career opportunities as white colleagues, 413 of the respondents said. Meanwhile, 31% of those from an ethnic minority background said this had made them consider leaving financial services, while 35% had contemplated not applying for certain jobs as a result.

The findings come more than two years after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of US police in May 2020, which spurred company bosses across the globe to pledge to increase ethnic diversity within their own workforces.

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“The figures really do speak for themselves,” said Lindsey Stewart, director of investment stewardship research at Morningstar.

“Most respondents to the survey believe their firms are becoming more diverse, and yet still we keep hearing of the same obstacles for ethnically diverse talent to overcome: The persistent perception of a lack of opportunities to advance, role models to learn from, and candid conversations with managers,” Stewart, who is also a Reboot ambassador, said.

While almost two-thirds of respondents pointed to an improvement in ethnic diversity within their firms over the past two years, half also called for more ethnically diverse role models across senior and middle management positions, as well as more transparency around pay and salary increases and training for those making hiring decisions.

“While it’s great to see the efforts firms have made to diversify their workforce, the report really shows the need for a focus on inclusion, not just diversity; and retention, not just recruitment,” Stewart added.

Asset managers and investment banks were among the firms pledging to bolster ethnic diversity in the wake of a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and HSBC were among those to unveil targets to increase the number of Black recruits joining their ranks over the coming years, while a project designed to attract 100 internships for young Black graduates in the asset management sector spawned the #10000BlackInterns initiative.

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Luke Adebiyi, business development manager at Capital International Group, said the results show there is still a “huge amount of listening” for employers to do regarding ethnic minority colleagues to fully understand their experiences in the workplace.

“The next 24 months will be particularly important for financial services firms looking to combat inequality in the workplace,” said Adebiyi, who is also an ambassador for Reboot.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email David Ricketts


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