Tuesday 20 October 2020 7:59 am

Natwest vows to boost number of black employees in senior roles

Natwest has vowed to boost the number of black staff in senior roles from one per cent to three per cent, as the British bank seeks to shake up its image as part of a new racial equality pledge. 

The boost would bring Natwest’s diversity in line with the black population in England and Wales, and would increase the number of black staff in senior roles at the bank from 88 to 264 over the next five years.

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The target follows a four-month review into the experiences of Natwest’s black staff, following a global cultural reckoning in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in May. 

“That led to us having very open and, on occasion, very emotional and difficult conversations with our colleagues about their lived experience,” said Natwest chief executive Alison Rose.

“I am fully committed to building a culture at Natwest that will embrace diversity and inclusivity to allow our colleagues and customers to thrive. At our best, we are an open, inclusive, progressive organisation, but until that is everyone’s experience, every time, we have more to do.”

A survey of more than a third of Natwest’s 63,000 staff found that just 28 per cent of black workers felt they had the same opportunities as other employees at the bank, compared to 78 per cent for the company as a whole. 

Fewer than two-thirds of black staff felt they could be themselves at work without worrying about being accepted, compared with 93 per cent of white colleagues.

The bank recently launched a taskforce led by BAME employees to improve diversity and inclusion across its workforce, board and advertising representation.

“What our taskforce showed was that there is a bigger difference for our black colleagues than there was for other sorts of minority groups,” said Rose.

Natwest follows a swathe of other British banks pledging to up diversity in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

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Lloyds Banking Group in July set a similar target of three per cent for black staff in senior roles, which will see it bring in around 168 more black colleagues by 2024, from its current base of 40. 

HSBC has also vowed to “at least double” the number of black people in director-level positions at the bank by 2025, but admitted it does not hold data on the exact number of minority ethnic individuals in senior positions across the business.