Discrimination of ethnic minorities remains high
According to research from Reboot, a high proportion of ethnic minorities working in financial services experienced discrimination at the workplace in the last 12 months. Last week, the organisation published figures indicating that ethnic diversity in private equity has declined over the last year.
As per Reboot’s new study, 68% of respondents have experienced discrimination at work in the last 12 months and 82% have witnessed unwelcome comments based on their background. Additionally, 25% said racial jokes are still tolerated at their workplace.
The survey was conducted in August 2022 on the basis of 800 online interviews with mid-to-senior level ethnic minority (600) and white (200) employees across the financial services sector. The focus group was representative of 392 firms with a combined annual revenue of £1.4trn.
Ineffective HR policies
Three-quarters of respondents who reported discrimination to their internal HR team experienced the handling of their situation as ineffective. Additionally, half of all respondents who voiced their concerns came under greater scrutiny from their managers and colleagues for speaking up.
According to the survey, only half of ethnic minority employees who faced discrimination said they raised it with their HR team. And a similar number stated they time off work and sought counselling to recover.
Lack of representation
A lack of senior representation prevented ethnic minorities from progressing their career in the last year, prompting them to switch jobs. 40% of respondents said they are likely to search for a new role in the next six to 12 months. 10% of these respondents indicated their organisation’s discriminatory culture as a reason for their potential move.
According to Reboot’s study, 44% of ethnic minorities stated their career progression to be slower than their white peers’. And 32% of respondents felt they do not have the same opportunities as white colleagues.
Interestingly, 46% of leaders in the financial industry recognised the lack of senior representation and its correlation with hindered career progression.
As per the survey, progress has been made over the last year. Eight out of ten people felt their company is actively promoting an inclusive and diverse work culture.
However, out of the 69% who acknowledged their organisation’s effort to be more diverse in recruiting, 58% felt their leadership was prioritising gender, due to a lack of comfort with tackling race issues.
This created a knock-on effect in the workforce. While 60% of white peers want to be advocates for ethnic minority colleagues, a fifth felt uncomfortable discussing related topics in the workplace.
Call to action
Given the survey’s results, Reboot has issued a call to action, including a three-point plan:
- Challenge negative office cultures with a zero tolerance policy
- Leadership has to set the tone for talking comfortably about race
- Close the ethnicity pay gap and report transparently.