Have a rant: Financial services

So, Barclays is asking its legal suppliers for diversity information to ensure their workforce demographics are at “an acceptable standard” (Personnel Today, 21 February).

I think any jury in the world would find the bank guilty of causing wilful damage to its own glass house via the reckless throwing of stones.
Admittedly, the legal profession is one of the worst for diversity, but the financial services sector is hardly a beacon of equality.

Mark Harding, general counsel of Barclays, admits that his own legal function has failed on ethnic diversity, although he is “confident” it has a good gender mix.

So why don’t you get your own (glass) house in order before demanding that your business partners do so?

Isn’t the danger here that the bank’s legal partners – and whatever other suppliers it decides to ask in the future – will simply opt for a box-ticking approach to diversity to ensure they don’t miss out on lucrative business?

This target-driven, mechanical approach does nothing to change the culture of an organisation and does, in fact, confirm fears about diversity being an exercise in political correctness.

Ethical trading is an admirable concept, particularly in industries such as retail, where the supply chain reaches far into often murky parts of the globe, but companies in other sectors shouldn’t run before they can walk.

If the only non-white people you see in your office are the cleaners – as I heard one finance chief remark the other day – perhaps you need to address your own company’s issues before asking your partners to.


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