Banks call for the fight against racism

The initiative is supported by the “General Counsels”, the chief legal officers of the banks. In an open letter, you call on the “global legal community” to do more for more diversity in the world of work and more ethnically mixed management levels – in short: for diversity and equal opportunities.

The signatories include Karen Kuder, Group General Counsel of the German bank, Markus Diethelm from the Swiss UBS and Karen Seymour of the US House Goldman Sachs. The chief legal officers of Swiss credit, BNP, HSBC, JP Morgan and other major UK and US banks.

“Violence against black people has dramatically drawn our attention to racial and social injustices in all of our societies. As heads of the legal departments of financial companies, we have come together to denounce all forms of discrimination and to express our support for those who have been exposed to this experience, ”the letter reads.

As a result, the chief justice officers demand a “more inclusive culture in the workplace”, the fight against racism and the promotion of ethnic minorities.

“The latest events are causing us to intensify our efforts,” explains Diethelm, one of the initiators. Instead of focusing on mediocrity, individuality should be at the center of corporate culture. “How can a society that is still convinced that individuals are judged on an established mean, ever create conditions that promote understanding and benefits of otherness?” He warns.

External law firms also have to rethink

Specifically, the chief legal officers call for action in three areas. First, there must be more internal initiatives to promote non-white employees, for example via platforms that support them on their way to management positions – especially in the “core business”, ie not only in the downstream departments. These “talent programs” would have to be driven by top management, for example through mentoring partnerships.

Non-white employees and the representatives of other minorities should be more represented in the decision-making bodies that decide on promotions. In addition, they would have to be sufficiently taken into account when hiring new employees. Regular inclusion training for the legal departments is also recommended.

Secondly, external service providers must also be encouraged to rely more on ethnically mixed teams: the financial sector must clearly formulate its expectations here. For example, when hiring external law firms, the number of non-white employees or the composition of the partners could also play a role in the future. If you don’t keep up with the times, you won’t be hired anymore.

Third, their own legal experts should extend their feelers to “underrepresented communities”. Networks that have been built up and maintained over the long term are intended to ensure that there are enough non-white applicants for new jobs and that these are also promoted during their careers. To this end, employees are encouraged to volunteer and to address employees with ethnically diverse backgrounds more intensively.

“In summary, our corporate culture must recognize and take into account the entire range of talents, lifestyles and perspectives,” conclude the chief legal officers of the major banks. “Our profession will be better and stronger when we have done this.”

The number of women in management positions already shows how much the banking world has to catch up in terms of a mixed work environment. Studies show that the financial industry has made little progress in terms of diversity since 2015: women continue to have a difficult time getting up and earn significantly less, as the personnel consultancy Willis Towers Watson (WTW) has broken down. Corresponding evaluations of the success of non-white employees have so far often failed due to the lack of a database.

More: Companies must now act on the issue of racism.


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