Diversity and Inclusion  

7 in 10 Black employees experience discrimination

7 in 10 Black employees experience discrimination

Seven in 10 (71 per cent) Black employees have experienced discrimination at their organisation, according to research.

Think tank reboot found high levels of tolerance for discriminatory behaviour at firms may be fuelling this culture, with only six in ten Black employees convinced that racial, ethnic and gender-based jokes are not tolerated in their company. 

Only half (53 per cent) of Black employees felt comfortable discussing issues of racism within their team.

The think tank is also a network of senior professionals working together to maintain the dialogue on race and racial inequality in the UK workplace and society.

The report, ‘Race to Equality: UK Financial Services’, was conducted in partnership with research house Coleman Parkes and surveyed 800 employees from 440 UK financial services firms, ranging from blue chip firms to boutiques.

More than half (52 per cent) of Black respondents to the survey, which included Black African, Caribbean or Black British backgrounds in financial services roles, did not believe they had equal opportunities at work. 

This was the highest among all ethnicity groups surveyed and significantly below the 84 per cent of white employees who believed they do have equal opportunities.

This disparity in experience was reflected in a lack of career progression for Black employees, with 39 per cent stating their career progression had been lower than that of white colleagues.

When asked about the barriers to career progression, almost half of Black employees (46 per cent) said they believed engrained working practices or cultures had made it hard to progress.

Lawrence Heming, research lead for reboot and assistant director at EY, said the findings reflected “a sobering reality” that many Black employees faced in today’s professional environment.

He said: “As the stories and role models currently being profiled during Black History Month are showing us, listening to experiences of the Black community is a crucial step to building awareness and addressing the inequality we see today. 

“It is no longer sufficient for companies to take a catch-all approach to diversity and inclusion measures. The report shows that Black employees are the least supported ethnic group within the workplace, and business leaders across the financial services sector need to reflect on the feedback from employees and do more to listen to individual experiences.”

Last week, FTAdviser spoke to firms across the industry about their push towards a more inclusive workforce as many have launched initiatives in light of Black History Month.

Inclusive environment

As the report outlined, more work needs to be done to create a truly inclusive environment at many financial services firms. 

Black employees felt least able to be themselves at work across all ethnic groups, with only 55 per cent responding they felt comfortable enough to talk about their backgrounds or cultural experiences with colleagues, while over a quarter (27 per cent) felt the needed to change aspects of their behaviour at work to fit in.