Business in the Community has published a report about a number of careers that are not attracting people from ethnic minorities. Banking and finance is one of the key sectors with low representation.
BIC’s research talked about a significant number of people who say that banking and finance is ‘not for the likes of them’ – and that this sector has the lowest number of role models from ethnic minorities.
Whilst I am not totally convinced with the methodology of this research, anyone who has walked into a UK banking head office (rather than the call centres) would agree that this sector needs to achieve a more representative workforce.
Achieving shift change can take years. But there are six simple steps that banking and financial organizations could initiate, which I believe would achieve significant results.
These are based on overcoming what I see as the key problems
- Lack of role models – not just senior figures, but also friends and family who have gone into banking roles
- Difficult to rise up the career ladder
- Lack of links with widest communities of schools and universities – particularly the less high performing
- Little understanding of cultural barriers and encouragement for those least likely to go into banking careers
- Belief that the underlying ethics and values of banks are questionable – this is a problem in the UK generally but can be especially difficult for those from ethnic minorities, where religious beliefs are often stronger
The six steps are:
1. Create strong links with schools, colleges and universities – especially those with higher percentages of students from ethnic minorities. This should include
– Work shadowing opportunities
– Work experience
2. Dialogue between senior and junior staff – there is still an old boys’ network operating. Set up positive discussion and mentoring between all cultures. Identify and change issues
3. Advertising – Halifax has had a strong advertising campaign reflecting diversity of its customers. This could be extended to show the career opportunities available to all under-represented groups
4. Conducive organizational culture – nurture talented individuals and provide support to help in rising up the ladder. Promote positive aspects of different cultures (e.g. Muslims don’t drink – they will never have a hangover!) both internally and to clients
5. Professional networking of ethnic groups – women started doing this 20 years ago. Support and encourage this among ethnic minority groups
6. ‘Who’s who’ in banking and finance from ethnic minority groups – a website to promote senior figures from ethnic minority groups in this sector. Their career stories, challenges along the way, tips for others.