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Report: Accelerating Black Inclusion

April 2021 • Driving diversityby by Yasmine Chinwala & Jennifer Barrow

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The Covid 19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd have exposed racial inequity, catapulted Black inclusion up the corporate agenda, and created a sense of urgency to drive change. This qualitative analysis focuses on the progression of Black colleagues into leadership positions across the UK financial services industry.

New Financial is a social enterprise that relies on support from the industry to support its work. To request a copy of the report please click here

The tragic murder of George Floyd in May 2020 triggered an outpouring of emotions the world over. His death – against the backdrop of the Covid 19 pandemic – has stimulated discussions on race, racism and racial inequity, and a desire to take action. Companies are under increasing pressure to play their part, and the financial services industry is no exception.

New Financial’s research focuses on the progression of Black colleagues into leadership positions in the UK finance sector. We interviewed more than 30 of the most senior cohort of Black professionals across the industry that we were able to reach.

We set out to capture their experiences in response to George Floyd’s death; their involvement with the Black inclusion agenda and how it has changed since May 2020; and discuss their career trajectories, in order to both draw out any barriers they may have faced as they progressed to senior roles as well as inform organisational actions to better support Black colleagues.

We deliberately sought to focus on progression issues, as told by those who have already made it, because so much of the industry’s response so far has focussed on entry level programmes. Without parallel attention on progression, the new intake can not be converted into a sustainable executive pipeline.

So many Black colleagues have participated in listening exercises since May 2020, often sharing painful and personal experiences. This context is essential to improve understanding of the nature of the problems in order to move towards solutions.

First and foremost we wanted to capture the tenor of late 2020, so that once the news flow around the Black Lives Matter movement has receded and we look back in future years, we have a written record of the stories, emotions, realisations and sense of urgency to act.  

Research methodology:  

This research focuses on progression of Black colleagues in UK financial services. We collected data for this report from:

  • structured interviews with more than 30 Black senior managers;
  • views of non-Black leadership via a C-Suite roundtable discussion;
  • public statements on corporate websites and social media from a sample of more than 50 financial services firms (with a significant UK presence) in response to George Floyd’s murder, recorded up to July 31st 2020;
  • action plans of all 16 finance firms signed up to the Race at Work Charter that had published an action plan before November 30th 2020;
  • hosting a webinar with more than 30 member participants to discuss the benefits and challenges of collecting workforce data on race and ethnicity;
  • feedback discussions with our Research Advisory Committee and New Financial’s wider network.

All contributions have been anonymised in this report.

The data was analysed by Yasmine Chinwala, Jennifer Barrow with additional input from Shruti Deb and Movell Dash.  

For more information on New Financial’s diversity programme, please contact Yasmine Chinwala on yasmine.chinwala@newfinancial.org   


New Financial would like to thank all our institutional members for their support, and particularly lead sponsors Columbia Threadneedle Investments and S&P Global; research collaborators #TalkAboutBlack; and brand sponsors DWS, Fidelity International, London Stock Exchange Group, Morgan Stanley and Schroders.

About New Financial:

New Financial is a think tank and forum that makes the positive case for bigger and better capital markets in Europe. We think there is a huge opportunity for the industry and its customers to embrace change and reform, and to rethink how capital markets work. Diversity is one of our core areas of coverage. 

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