Banks leading race and gender equality drive

Banks in the UK now have a higher percentage of women in senior positions than their rivals in both the US and Europe, according to a new survey.

Full Complement of Executives at Management Meeting
The study, conducted by the New Street Group business management consultancy, found that 37% of board members at UK banks were women compared with 35% in Europe and 33% in the US.Publication of the gender diversity survey coincided with the launch this week of an initiative by the UK's fund management industry to tackle the "chronic" under-representation of black talent in the financial sector.The report on gender found that the percentage of women on UK bank boards had increased from 28% in 2015 - a year when the figure among European banks stood at 33%.Andrew McIntee, managing director at New Street Group, said, "Banks know that gender balance isn't just a public relations objective, it's part of finding a competitive advantage.

Better gender balance on the board leads to better performance

"A growing body of evidence suggests that a better gender balance on the board can lead to greater diversity of ideas, better and more informed decision-making, and increased board effectiveness which ultimately leads to better performance."In UK banks, there is now a real understanding that a shortlist of all-male candidates for a senior role is one that may have ignored 50% of the talent pool."The report found that improvements in representation of women at board level were a result of UK banks more actively embedding diversity and inclusion into their hiring and retention practices, and the broader workplace culture. 

#100blackinterns initiative in UK fund management

Meanwhile, 80 leading firms in the UK's fund management industry - including Legal & General, Schroders and Goldman Sachs - have launched the #100blackinterns initiative, aimed at offering career opportunities in the financial sector to young, university-educated black people.The firms - including hedge and pension funds, and private equity, credit and real estate managers - will offer a minimum of 100 paid internships in front-line investment roles to black graduates from next summer.The initiative has been led by Jonathan Sorrell, president of Capstone Investment Advisors, and Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, co-founder of Redington and Mallowstreet.Mr Sorrell said, “We felt we wanted to do something really tangible to build a bench of compelling black talent in our industry for the long-term. By providing such a special entry point into portfolio management, we hope to attract great black students to a career path they may not have otherwise contemplated.”There has been a growing recognition recently in financial services that most senior positions are the preserve of white men. HSBC announced last month that it will “at least double” the number of black employees in its upper ranks.Goldman Sachs recently said that, by 2025, it wants 7% of its vice-presidents to be black and 9% to be Latino. Chief executive David Solomon also said the bank was aiming for 40% of its vice-presidents to be female.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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