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Black Talent Charter launches blueprint for change

The next phase of the Black Talent Charter launches as research shows it will take 30 years to reach 3.4% Black representation in financial and professional services firms

12 July 2022

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The founders of the UK’s Black Talent Charter say they are aiming to increase the number of signatories from around 20 to 100 or more over the next three years as they announced the next phase of the Charter.

The next phase following the Charter’s launch is a three-year, three-pillared strategy to accelerate progress in the recruitment, career progression and promotion of Black talent to senior levels in the financial and professional services sectors.

It was devised with the support of research and analysis by global management consultants Bain & Company, a Charter signatory. According to Bain’s analysis and modelling, the proportion of people of Black heritage in the UK working population – 3.4% in the 2011 census – will not be matched in finance and the professional services for another 30 years if the industry continues at the current rate of progress.

It will take nearly a century – until 2110 – to match the Black university student population in these sectors. Black students make up 8% of the UK university population from which financial and professional services firms recruit.

“Universities are full of excellent Black students with great degrees. Why is it that this talent is not coming to and staying with our organisations, and if they are, why are they not reaching the senior positions?”, said Harry Matovu QC, a leading barrister at Brick Court Chambers and founder of the Black Talent Charter.

“Data shows that the financial and professional services sectors, the highest paying sectors in the economy, have the lowest proportion of Black employees, let alone leaders.”

Matovu said that Black professionals presently make up 2.2% of the professional sector and just 1.9% of the finance sector.

“The number of Black professionals in finance and insurance has fallen by 0.5% over the past decade and has fallen by 18% in the last three years, two of which have followed the murder of George Floyd when firms came out and said they would act on Black representation,” Matovu said.

“We need a differentiated approach, and we need action now, but it is clear that one firm cannot do this by itself. This has to be a joint approach and it has to be done by a coalition of organisations working together,” he said.

Since its launch in 2020, the Black Talent Charter has galvanised support from some of the biggest names in the City including Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloitte. Other signatories include Lloyds Bank, TSB and Schroders, among others. In early July, the International Chamber of Commerce UK became the latest signatory.

Speaking at a presentation at Mansion House on 29 June to discuss the Charter’s next phase, Matovu said he was aiming to increase the signatory base from around 20 firms to 100 over the next three years, with the goal of proportional representation of 3.4% for Black talent within 10 years.

“One hundred leading firms and organisations in three years: banks, firms, insurance companies and fintech enterprises who really have the ability from their size and status in the market to shift the dial,” Matovu said.

Inspiration

The Charter, created and launched by Matovu with Michael Eboda, founder and CEO of Powerful Media, takes some of its inspiration from the Women in Finance Charter, launched in 2016 by HM Treasury.

Similarly, the Black Talent Charter places an emphasis on measurable data, against which signatories can assess progress; clear action plans with ambitious targets for recruitment and progression; senior executive accountability for delivery of the action plans; and independent monitoring. 

But it is more than a charter for targets and measurement, important as they are, said Matovu. The three-year, three-pillared approach will see the Charter becoming a source of expertise and guidance on initiatives that can help firms with any aspect of recruitment, training or creating the right culture for inclusion. It will also be a source for market data, reports and studies to inform the work of signatories in their planning, as well as provide a system by which progress can be measured.

“The Charter team will be able to advise each of our signatories on individual, realistic targets and action plans based on their knowledge of the whole of the signatory cohort,” Matovu said.

Importantly, the Charter will also provide a network for Black professionals across sectors to enable them to connect with and talk to each other at all levels of seniority, to make their collective views and experiences known to those in leadership positions, and to create a wide and deep pool of Black talent coming into and flowing up the pipeline of the sectors where they choose to work.

“We want to create something that lasts and that will work,” said Matovu. “We don't want to show some Black professionals doing well; we're not here to create unicorns to work in your firms. We are here to make the financial and professional services sector an environment where talented Black professionals will not just have jobs but be able to forge careers.”

For more information on the Black Talent Charter and to sign up, visit: www.blacktalentcharter.com

Black Talent Charter

Unlike other initiatives, the Charter is aimed at men and women of Black heritage, the most underrepresented ethnic group in the finance and professional sectors.

Numerous studies show that Black professionals face greater disadvantages and inequities in the workplace through negative stereotyping and bias, whether conscious or unconscious, than other minority ethnic groups.

Financial News, for example, reported in July 2020 that out of the 650 senior investment bankers at London’s top 11 investment banks, only three (less than 0.5%) were Black, compared with a total of 13% in the general BAME [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] category.

“This is a stark illustration of how the “BAME” acronym conceals the particular disadvantages faced by Black professionals,” the Black Talent Charter says.

The Charter can, nevertheless, exist as part of a signatory firm’s wider equal opportunities programme for all minority groups. The disciplines of its pledges will complement, and may enhance, any wider programme, the Charter says.

 

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