Credit Managers in Europe Stand Out for Lack of Black Workers

Black workers make up just half of one percent of the staff at Europe’s direct lenders, a low number even in a credit industry overwhelmingly dominated by White males.

A report by London-based executive recruitment firm Waterman Stern found that among the wider credit industry only 0.6% of more than 5,700 professionals were Black.

Those numbers, taken from a survey of 420 credit teams, are egregious even for the dismal diversity record of the financial industry in London, where most of the firms are based. About 2.7% of jobs in the financial and insurance sector are done by Black people, according to a 2020 survey by the Office for National Statistics.

“It stood out that they aren’t covering their diversity tick list,” said Sarah Bittar, head of operations at Waterman Stern, who authored the report looking at business areas including distressed debt, CLOs, leveraged finance and restructuring advisory work as well as direct lending.

Credit Managers in Europe Stand Out for Lack of Black Workers

The survey also showed the task facing Europe’s private credit industry to improve gender diversity.

Women account for about 14% of credit staffing positions in the region, and 7.9% of senior professionals across the different industry strategies, according to the Waterman Stern report. As a point of comparison, women make up about 17% of staff approved by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority to carry out investment roles in their work in financial services, according to a 2019 report by the regulator.

Credit Managers in Europe Stand Out for Lack of Black Workers

Some credit funds are appointing managers tasked with boosting their performance on diversity and inclusion, Bittar said.

“They are making it part of their agenda,” she said. “It’s part of their conversation.”

Waterman Stern is an executive recruiting firm, working across markets including private, public and structured credit, distressed debt, special situations and CLO management.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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