Bank of England pledges to take action after report reveals poor racial diversity

Ethnic minority applicants for Bank of England jobs are less likely to be hired or promoted and more likely to receive smaller bonuses and given fewer opportunities for career progression than their white colleagues, a review has found.

They were also more likely to leave the bank, which acknowledged this was unsurprising given the “disparities in their career experiences.”  The Bank of England has vowed to improve diversity and inclusion at the 326-year-old institution after the internal review.

The report, launched in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, found hiring, promotion and bonuses favoured white people and prompted the BoE’s governor to admit the experience of ethnic minorities had “not reflected the kind of institution we want to be”. It concluded that while the BoE’s leadership had indicated a “desire to make progress in racial/ethnic inclusion”, its strategy “lacked focus and clarity”.

The review also found “greater exposure to discriminatory or inappropriate behaviours” and that its mechanisms for reporting such behaviour “were not always trusted to operate in a safe way that would lead to appropriate action”.

It also pointed to the impact of “micro-aggressions” – for example, black BoE employees were much more likely to report being often interrupted at meetings while other instances included “making assumptions about someone’s capabilities or background on the basis of their race or ethnicity”.

The Bank also missed its 2020 targets for roles held by women in senior management roles, or those below.

The review found that while the Bank had taken on an ethnically diverse range of people for early career schemes such as its graduate programmes, there was a “leaky pipeline” for recruitment for roles advertised externally to experienced candidates.

That meant that while 44% of applicants for these jobs in 2019-20 were from ethnic minorities, only 38% were interviewed and 29% hired, with the Bank failing to meet its own targets for 13% of ethnic minority representation in top management roles by the end of 2020.

The near year-long review – led by Diana Noble, a non-executive director of the Bank’s Court – found that despite efforts to improve diversity and inclusion at Threadneedle Street, there was “still a long way to go”. It made a long list of recommendations, including making executive directors accountable for meeting diversity targets, which is linked to their pay.

Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey said: “The experience of colleagues with different ethnic backgrounds has not reflected the kind of institution we want to be.

“I am confident we can make this institution an organisation where everyone can thrive and feel proud.”

The Bank has set itself more stretching targets to increase diversity by the end of February 2028 as a “first step” towards making improvements.

These include the goal for between 18% and 20% of senior managers to be black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) by 2028, and for 23% of BAME representation in roles below senior management.

It is also targeting 20% of new appointments at executive director and director level to be BAME and 10% of graduate intake to be Black.

While the review focused on ethnic diversity at the Bank, it has also set new gender targets, aiming for up to 44% of senior managers to be female and gender parity on new appointments at executive director and director level.

Earlier this year, the Bank of England’s annual report found there was a 10.8% pay gap for ethnic minority staff, down from 11.3% a year earlier – blamed on a lack of representation in senior roles.

Last year, the Bank apologised for the “inexcusable” connections of some former governors and directors with the slave trade and said it would remove any images of them from display.

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