Keeping London at the forefront of global business
working with and for the whole UK
The importance of the Charter for Black Talent
9 December 2020
London is proud to be a world-leading global city, as well as the centre of global financial and professional services. To its shame, however, corporate boardrooms have for decades been insulated from the diversity that gives London its vibrancy and strength. Although 20% of London’s population is of Black or mixed heritage, age-old stereotyping has meant that this is by far the most under-represented group in business leadership.
But 2020 has laid bare the discrimination faced by Black professionals. In an open letter in July, 39UK firms said, “What is hopefully clear to all of us is how little tangible action has been taken to reduce systemic discrimination in the workplace, but also how little honesty there has been about black inclusion and discrimination in particular… We’ve posted on our corporate Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, but now we must show what our organisations look like truthfully and what more we are doing to change it.”
The Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions responds to this urgent call for meaningful action. It goes beyond aspirational statements (however sincere), and it seeks to create conditions to enable talented Black professionals to compete on truly level terms for promotion right up to the boardroom.
Modelled on, but far from identical to, the successful Women in Finance Charter, the Charter requires signatories to establish:
measurable data against which they can assess progress on improving equality of opportunity for Black talent in their UK businesses
ambitious targets to which they can aspire, in the knowledge that the only worthwhile target is a challenging one, and that significant progress can be made even if the target itself is not yet achieved
clear action plans to work towards those targets
accountability for Charter delivery at the top level of each firm
transparency through public reporting on action taken by signatory firms as a cohort,with data collection and independent monitoring of progress
In short, the Charter requires firms to apply the same standard business techniques to the growth of Black talent in their organisations as they would apply to projects for revenue growth. That is its power, and that is what marks it out from other initiatives in this area.
The Charter itself and all information about signing up can be found on the website (www.blacktalentcharter.com). Signing up is simply a matter of filling in and submitting a short form on the website.
The fact that London First is joining the City of London Corporation as a major supporter of the Charter sends out an important message about London’s outlook and ambitions in a post-Brexit, post-Covid world. We urge member firms to sign up. Your leadership is pivotal, and we look forward to our partnership on this important journey.
Jasmine Whitbread, CEO of London First, added: “The events of 2020 have reminded us all, once again, that there is much to be done to make London a fairer and more equal city. At London First, we are pleased to support the Charter for Black Talent, which marks an important point for us on our own path to becoming more inclusive. Early in the New Year we will be making new appointments to our board, having committed to further increase its diversity as a priority. We would urge our member businesses to sign up to the Charter, to take concrete steps that make a difference and to help London’s firms better reflect the diversity of our great city.”
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