Financial Services

Case Study – reboot. Race to Equality: UK Financial Services Report

Addressing underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in the financial services sector. 

This paper explores the responses of 800 online interviews with mid-to-senior level white (200) and ethnic minority (600) employees in the financial services sector. Spanning the UK, the report aims to highlight ethnic minorities’ experiences within the financial services sector, gathering insights into careers and progression, diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts, and the impact of discrimination, while also exploring what their white peers are thinking. The report also highlights issues that need to be addressed, including how white peers can become allies and advocates to allow the financial services sector to reverse institutionalised attitudes against ethnic minority people and produce a fairer, more diverse industry.

The UK’s financial services industry – the country’s biggest export – has progress to make when it comes to diversity. It’s long held a reputation as something of an exclusive club. Employees in this sector earn 29%¹ more than the rest of the UK on average – and that’s before bonuses.

With so few role models in senior positions and challenging workplace cultures, it’s difficult for those from different backgrounds to break into the industry, let alone do well.

There is no better time for an industry-wide re-evaluation of minority representation than now. The Covid-19 pandemic shone a light on the value of a committed and dependable workforce, as well as the importance of leaders who can foster positive relationships based on fairness, equality of opportunity and freedom from discrimination and bias.

From efforts to improve entry-level opportunities for ethnic minority candidates, to ensuring that their progression is not impeded by any discriminatory factor, it is evident that attempts have been made to improve the level of diversity across the financial services sector. However, significant shortcomings are still apparent – each of which requires dedicated attention to overcome.

While increased regulatory efforts, including from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)² are broadly welcomed, the fundamental issue is that the lack of racial diversity within the UK’s financial services sector needs addressing, for the good of individuals, the industry and society. It should become a moral obligation for organisations to better promote equal opportunities, for both the success of their organisation and that of society at large.

Currently, however, institutionalised racism and a lack of equality define the experiences of the majority of ethnic minority employees within the UK’s financial services sector.


About reboot.

reboot. is a network of senior professionals working together to maintain the dialogue on race and racial inequality in the UK workplace, with a particular focus on financial services.

Racism remains a significant issue in the UK workplace. It impedes the potential of individuals and organisations. But not everyone wants to confront these issues – let alone solve them.

Founded in 2021, reboot. uses real stories, case studies and original research into the impact of racism and diversity. These seek to educate business leaders and policymakers and enable them to create a more diverse, inclusive and fairer workforce.

FTI Consulting supported reboot. on a pro-bono basis to create, launch and promote the report.

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