Clare Black, managing director at Streets Consulting, moderated a panel at FIA’s International Derivatives Expo (IDX) on 21 June titled Driving the DEI Agenda: How to Make a Real Difference in Your Organisation. Founder and Chair of the UK’s Black Talent Charter Harry Matovu KC and Deputy CEO at Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB) Pete Ward weighed in on DEI initiatives relating to two key issues: race and social mobility.
Black began the discussion with a statistic from the UK’s Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce, on how socioeconomic status can affect progression in the financial services industry. “Employees from lower socioeconomic backgrounds progress 25% slower than their peers and that’s if they’ve even got in there in the first place. If you add in other characteristics – gender, race and disability for example – that progression rate is even slower.”
LTSB’s Ward spoke about social mobility as an issue of fairness. “If things were fair, talented workers wouldn’t need an intermediary like LTSB to find jobs. LTSB and other intermediaries recognize the barriers that underrepresented populations face when trying to enter the financial workforce. People are struggling to reach jobs equal to their ambition and ability,” said Ward. “Change is essential to make financial services industry jobs more accessible to diverse talent.”
Change can lead to better financial stability for groups of people where it has consistently been out of reach, he noted.
“Companies also benefit because strong diversity initiatives not only open the talent pool to a larger group of qualified people, but the work produced itself will evolve and strengthen down the road.”
Many workplaces suffer from “initiative fatigue”, he added. “Diversity initiatives do not have to be in-house only. Companies that do not know where to begin can reach out to third sector organisations for guidance, structure, and support as they get started. Collaboration is critical.”
The Black Talent Charter's Matovu wanted to make one thing clear to the audience: “Social mobility is not the same problem as the problem of race.”
Matovu, a barrister and King's Counsel at Brick Court Chambers, shared his own personal experience in the profession explaining that, regardless of his background and privilege, being a Black man was, and still is, a “burden.” In his career, he has witnessed overt discrimination like being told as a junior barrister that he had been passed up on an opportunity at work because of the colour of his skin, as well as the burdens of expectation as a result of so often being the only Black professional in court or in a room. Matovu founded the Black Talent Charter because he wanted to address “the Black problem” and the deep-rooted stereotyping that prevent Black workers from entering the financial services industry in the first place and climbing up the ladder.
To be successful in changing how financial companies think about diversity, the largest companies need to commit to diversity initiatives together – initiatives that can change the landscape of how things are done in the industry, he said.
“And to companies that claim they cannot find diverse talent, I say, Where are you looking?” Matovu said. “The Black Voices Report reported the percentage of managers, held by various heritage groups, that possessed degrees at masters, PhD, or undergraduate level at private companies in 2020: 67% with Black heritage, 91% with Black African heritage, 87% with Chinese heritage, 80% and 79% with Indian and Pakistani heritage respectively, 66% with Black heritage of all types ...and 52% for white managers. Clearly diverse and educated talent is everywhere. However, companies are failing to look in the right places and some are not looking at all.”
“Business has the power to change society. You can’t cop out,” Matovu added. “Genuine diversity initiatives benefit everyone involved. It is not only the right thing to do, it is also the most strategic thing to do. Business has a social responsibility as well as a responsibility to its shareholders. Together we can create a sector where employee progress is made according to performance, not background.”
For more on the UK Black Talent Charter visit: www.blacktalentcharter.com
For more on LTSB visit: www.ltsb.charity