The City of London Corporation has thrown its weight behind a new charter aimed at driving up representation of black people in senior positions in the finance and professional services sectors.
The governing body of the Square Mile is supporting the Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions, which launches today (Oct 29), and is calling on City firms to sign up to it.
The brainchild of barrister Harry Matovu QC, the charter aims to address under-representation of black people in senior echelons in the sectors and to improve their career progression and opportunities.
The charter is supported by the City Corporation’s Tackling Racism Taskforce, set up in the summer in the wake of the Black Lives Matters protests and aimed at taking action to tackle racism in all its forms.
Andrien Meyers, Co-Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Tackling Racism Taskforce, said:
“Even before the Black Lives Matters movement was born, there was a growing awareness of the fact black people are not adequately represented at boardroom and senior management level in the financial and professional services sectors.
“Unfortunately, many talented black professionals are still not able to achieve their full potential, not due to a lack of ability or effort but because the opportunities simply aren’t there for them.”
Caroline Addy, Co-Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Tackling Racism Taskforce, said:
“I know that many firms in these sectors feel as passionately as we do about the need to improve the opportunities for black people to progress, and I’d strongly urge them to support this charter, which sets out ambitious targets for companies to drive up black representation at senior levels.”
A report last year by recruitment and consultancy firm Green Park found black representation in the boardroom in the banking and finance sectors was just 0.5%, rising only to 1.6% for senior leaders below boardroom level. Black people make up 13.3% of London’s population, according to the 2011 census.
The charter commits signatories to eight pledges, including setting an action plan with ambitious five-year targets for increasing black representation and appointing a senior executive to be accountable for ensuring they’re met.
Prestigious companies from the finance, accountancy, legal and professional services sectors which have already signed up include PwC, Barings, Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and KPMG.
The City of London Corporation is already a supporter and signatory of the Race at Work Charter and the Women in Finance Charter.
Support for the charter comes at the end of Black History Month, in which the City Corporation has run a number of activities including supporting teachers in its family of schools to incorporate Black British history, arts and culture into the curriculum.
Meanwhile, Our City Together, an online collaborative projects bringing together cultural organisations in the Square Mile, has posed creative challenges inspired by black history and created a recommended watch, read and listen list.
The London Metropolitan Archives published a major new collection of images, Switching the Lens – Rediscovering Londoners of African, Caribbean, Asian and Indigenous Heritage 1561 to 1840, while the City Corporation published a new research paper on the lives of black and Asian women in the City from the 17th to the 19th century.