London City Firms Pledge to Lift Number of Black Senior Managers

Some of the City of London’s biggest employers signed a charter to push for greater representation of Black people in financial and professional services firms.

Legal firms Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP are backing the initiative, as are asset manager Barings and advisory firms PwC and KPMG. The City of London Corporation, which is the financial district’s local government, is also backing the charter, devised by trial lawyer Harry Matovu.

Corporations that sign up must set themselves a five-year target aiming to increase the number of Black employees at senior levels by about three percentage points. Firms will have to compile data on Black employees in their U.K. businesses within six months of signing the charter, and then publish annual reports on their progress toward meeting the commitments. Other measures include requiring external service providers to demonstrate their commitment to promoting Black representation at their own companies.

A lack of diversity in the City of London has become a key issue in the light of the Black Lives Matter protests, which spread to Britain after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. While many chief executive officers pledged to address the issue, the lack of Black people in senior management roles is stark. Fewer than 1% of senior employees at HSBC Holdings Plc in the U.K. are Black, the bank said earlier this week. At Lloyds Banking Group Plc, that figure is 0.6%.

“The charter responds to the urgent call for meaningful action to redress the balance for Black professionals in the workplace after so many decades of inaction,” Matovu said in a statement. “It is an initiative that takes equality of opportunity and career progression for talented Black professionals beyond the first step of offering internships.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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