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Number of black directors to double - says HSBC

The CEO of HSBC has admitted that they have failed to collect ethnicity data, and this has led to mistrust among black employees.

HSBC has stated that they will be working with head-hunters to more actively engage ethnically diverse staff for its leadership roles.

Further, they have pledged to ‘at least double’ the number of black employees in the upper ranks. The company admitted that they did not know exactly the number of ethnic minority staff who held senior positions.

Noel Quinn, chief executive of HSBC sent an internal memo to staff, admitting that the bank had failed to collect and publish ethnic data.

This failure had led to a feeling of mistrust among their black staff. They were concerned that the bank had remained silent on issues which affected the black community.

Mr Quinn assured colleagues that ‘HBSC would act.’ A more urgent demand for action came about because of the Black Lives Matter movement and these were the steps that HSBC would take in response.

A steering committee comprising black leaders and staff of ethnic backgrounds has been set up and is to oversee the global ethnicity inclusion programme which has recently been created.

HSBC has additionally pledged to at least double the number of black people who hold director positions. This will include the executive team. They pledge to do this by 2025.

Unfortunately, according to an HSBC spokesperson, the bank did not have the exact number of black people who currently hold director level positions.

The memo from Mr Quinn stated that a ‘diversity data enhancement programme’ was to be a part of the plan to improve the transparency and reporting of all their ethical data. These figures, along with the annual report will be released in 2021.

London-based headquarters of the bank stated that they will actively work with head-hunters to put forward black and ethnically diverse applicants for their leadership positions. They will also improve representation on short-listing for mid-career positions.

Mr Quinn said that HSBC would be updating their recruitment process so that they reduce any potential bias. They would enhance hiring strategies for their graduate programmes.

While saying the right words may be easy, doing the right thing is far more difficult. Mr Quinn wants his bank to be judged by actions, which should be concrete and sustainable in a more inclusive and diverse bank.

HSBC’s announcement comes after a statement from Lloyds Banking Group saying that they plan to increase their black senior roles from 0.6% to no less than 3% over the next four years. For Lloyds this will mean recruiting an additional 168 black senior staff by 2024.

Currently Lloyds has just 40 black staff members across the 7,000-strong management team.

Later this year Lloyds will publish their first ethnicity pay gap report. This is expected to include at least one person on every executive director shortlist from black, minority ethnic or Asian background.  

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