City must ‘own the wrong numbers’ on ethnic diversity and start talking about action
The city needs to “own” its poor record on ethnicity and start discussing how to increase representation, according to a prominent diversity activist.
“As an industry, we like numbers. We feel very secure in the data, we love to collect it, we love to watch it, ”said Bev Shah, Managing Director of City Hive.
The former Aviva and HSBC fund manager said financial services companies should “own the bad numbers because nobody is doing brilliantly” but then move on to actions that would help bridge the gap. ethnic gap of the sector.
“When we look at the performance, if the numbers aren’t that great, we tend to look at the process, the qualitative side of things,” she said. “You’re probably in good company, but then talk about what you’re doing. “
Speaking at the Diversity Project’s “Reset4Inclusion” event on November 24, Shah’s comments come as companies in the financial services industry face increased scrutiny of their diversity and inclusion initiatives, both from a regulatory and consumer and employee perspective as well as environmental, social and governance issues. take center stage.
Shah, who is the co-leader of the Diversity Project’s Race and Ethnicity Working Group, was responding to an audience poll, which showed the majority believed that one of the main barriers to collecting data on gender was ethnicity was “reputational risk due to lack of a diverse workforce”. .
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The Diversity Project has 86 companies among its members, mainly from the investment management sector. In June of this year, he announced a new five-year plan, in which he set a target of 90% ethnicity disclosure rate for the industry within two years.
Disclosure of ethnic data and reporting of pay gaps is not mandatory, and few organizations have taken action to reveal these numbers despite growing pressure to do so following the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
However, the gender pay gap has been mandatory since 2017 for companies with more than 250 employees in the UK.
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The Bank of England, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority released a set of policy recommendations in July, hinting at the possibility that companies will be required to link pay to diversity and inclusion metrics in the future. .
According to the Diversity Project, 1% of the fund management industry in London identifies as Black and 10% identifies as Asian.
“[In the last five years] we went from a feeling of probably a little lukewarm engagement to this whole idea of diversity and inclusion to a real general engagement, ”said Baroness Helena Morrissey, president of the Diversity Project, at the event.
“The commitment then turns into action, then action turns into results. And I think we’re sort of somewhere between engagement and action points at this point.
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