HSBC aims to double Black senior staff by 2025, alter hiring processes

Last modified July 27, 2020. Published July 27, 2020.

said it is planning to double the number of Black employees in senior roles by the end of 2025, marking the latest financial firm to set hiring targets for the under-represented demographic group amid rising global concern over racial injustices.

“Our Black colleagues feel that HSBC has not been strong or vocal enough as an organisation on matters that concern them,” CEO Noel Quinn said in an internal memo, shared with Fastinform on Monday. He also said that the British bank had not released ethnicity data, which has contributed to feelings of mistrust. 

In addition to the hiring goal, the United Kingdom’s biggest bank, with $2.9 trillion in assets as of March 31, plans to include more Black employees participating in the bank’s internal development programs, and to change hiring practices to include more Black and ethnically diverse candidates on shortlists for mid-career roles. Quinn also pledged to alter recruitment processes and guidance with an eye toward reducing the potential for bias.

The CEO added that each country in which HSBC operates would have individual hiring goals. He also said the bank would improve transparency around employee demographics, starting with markets with comprehensive ethnicity data. He added that the bank had created a “diversity data enhancement” program, which requires active employee participation to be successful.

Quinn described meeting with Black employees following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers noting that, “their stories, covering their whole careers, ranged from feeling overlooked for career opportunities and uninspired by the lack of senior role models, through to being on the receiving end of everyday slights which left them unable to be their true selves at work.”

A wave of diversity-focused targets and pledges has swept the financial industry in the wake of Floyd’s death and subsequent protests.

Four of Canada’s six largest banks pledged to grow the percent of Black employees in leadership roles, signing on to a pledge of over 200 Canadian companies, and the  promised to invest CAD $150 million ($111 million) in Black and indigienous-owned businesses.  said it would tie executive pay to diversity hiring targets. and also pledged greater diversity targets over the next five years.

Netflix will move $100 million into Black-owned banks, and PNC Financial services said it would invest $1 billion in Black and low-to-moderate income communities.

Some companies are also examining their own culpability in diversity and race relations. The will study the state of diversity and inclusion within the insurance industry. apologized for its own role in facilitating slavery and  pledged to remove all portraits of former governors who had links to the slave trade. Dutch bank  will research its own historical treatment of Black people.

“Saying the right words is easy,” wrote Quinn. “Doing the right thing is harder. I want us to be judged by the concrete, sustainable actions we take to be a more diverse and inclusive bank. The Black Lives Matter movement has rightly created more urgent demand for action.”

Quinn said the plans outlined in the memo would be expanded at a later date.