Redington, Aon, Lane Clark & Peacock and Mercer have joined a coalition of financial services firms aiming to promote Black talent. The initiative will look to put 25 Black students in contact with financial services companies in order to obtain entry-level roles.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd died in police custody, sparking outrage and protests in the United States and around the world. The incident reignited conversations around racial inequality and police violence, with individuals and organisations expressing solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement by attending protests in person or voicing their support on social media. As the struggle for equality continues, it has also brought issues surrounding corporate representation to prominence.
According to research by recruitment consultancy Green Park, Black people represent fewer than 1% of business leaders running the UK’s largest companies. Overall, ethnic minority groups accounted for just over 7% of boardrooms in 2019, down from nearly 9% the prior year.
Recent reports in the British press also focused on top professional services firms, who despite talking a good game on equality, were struggling to improve diversity and inclusion in their companies. Of the Big Four audit and advisory firms’ 3,000 UK partners, only 11 are Black. As scrutiny continues to mount on the ‘white, male, stale’ contents of the industry’s executive teams, consulting has become the subject of a major drive to play a bigger role in combating systemic racism across the UK.
In order to help address the marginalisation of Black talent in the professional services sector, a group of companies have come together to tackle the underrepresentation of Black talent in the UK investment industry. Money managers Fidelity International, Invesco, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Wellington Management; covenant advisor Lincoln Pensions; and wealth manager St James’s Place have been joined by consultants Redington, Aon, Lane Clark & Peacock and Mercer.
Run by Entrepreneurs in Action as part of its Classroom to Boardroom initiative, the supporting firms will work with more than 25 Black students primarily from schools across South London, to find ways to increase the applications, opportunities and development of young Black people in entry-level roles. The initiative will also see firms share details on current diversity initiatives and entry-level strategies, as well as explaining any perceived barriers to bringing in young Black talent.
Derek Browne, CEO of Entrepreneurs in Action, said of the project, “As someone who joined the industry 30 years ago, I am aware it has made slow progress to identify and recruit Black talent despite a range of entry programs under the banner of diversity. This initiative provides a unique platform to engage some of the highest profile investment management and consulting firms with a range of talented young individuals who are excited about the industry.”