D&I | NatWest to boost number of black staff in top roles

NatWest to boost number of black staff in top roles

Banking giant NatWest has pledged to increase the number of black staff in its senior roles within the business, the Guardian reported.

NatWest Group announced plans to boost the number of black staff from one per cent to three per cent in senior positions as part of its new racial equality pledge that also includes shutting down accounts of customers who are racially abusive towards employees.

This move comes after a four-month review took place to focus on the experiences of the organisation’s black staff. This comes in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in the US back in May.

After the protests took place, Alison Rose, Chief Executive at NatWest, said: “That led to us having very open and, on occasion, very emotional and difficult conversations with our colleagues about their lived experience.”

In a survey held at the firm, almost 22,000 of the bank’s 63,000 employees found that while 79% felt all staff had the same opportunities, this dropped to 28% among its black staff members in the UK.

Just 63% of black staff believed they could be themselves at work without worrying about whether they would be accepted, compared to 93% of white workers who said they feel comfortable. Some respondents also pointed out that the recruitment process at NatWest was impacted by racial bias.

A taskforce led by BAME employees has set ten commitments to increase the diversity and inclusion (D&I) of its black staff and customers. Thanks to this, new commitments will see more BAME staff being included on interview panels, making sure that adverts feature more people from BAME backgrounds and introducing training that will give white staff the tools to support black colleagues.

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

The pledge to increase black staff from one per cent to three per cent is in line with the black population in England and Wales; currently around one per cent or 88 of NatWest’s 8,800 senior staff are black and if targets are met, that figure will increase to roughly 264 by 2025.

These new targets also build on the bank’s wider BAME expectations, with plans to increase the number of non-white staff in senior staff roles to 14% by 2025. Currently, BAME workers make up ten per cent of senior roles, and the firm’s median ethnicity pay gap stands at 15.7%.

Why HR should boost D&I

“Diverse and inclusive cultures are providing companies with a competitive edge over their peers,” stated The Wall Street Journal in its first corporate ranking that examined D&I among S&P 500 companies. This quote pinpoints the business benefits of promoting healthy D&I strategies, and statistics have gone on to show the same.

For example, a Fast Company study previously revealed that businesses with above-average gender diversity and levels of employee engagement outperform companies with below-average diversity and engagement by 46% to 58%.

The tangible benefits are clear, plus with 67% of jobseekers now considering workplace diversity an important factor when seeking new opportunities (Glassdoor), HR should therefore be focussing on how best to boost D&I in the workplace in order to retain and attract staff.

Frederik Ballon VP, EMEA for iCIMS, the talent cloud company who has today announced a new partnership with Advanced, one of the UK’s largest Human Capital Management (HCM) providers, also shared with HR Grapevine that the tech companies use for talent management have been ‘stuck’ in a reactive approach to D&I, something he believes need to change. “Scrubbing names and email addresses may remove some bias from the initial stage of resume screening, but overall does not really contribute much to diversity efforts,” he stated.

To improve this, he explained that iCIMS is now focussing on AI algorithms to improve D&I, which allows businesses to open up their talent pools to attract new recruits. Ballon concluded: “Through the use of advanced AI algorithms, we are exposing all of the talent in the talent pool to recruiters and are promoting best-fit candidates for roles, while excluding bias-inducing characteristics from the evaluation. This opens up the talent pool, so recruiters have more candidates to choose from, but it also actively promotes candidates based on skills and capabilities, without consideration for personal characteristics such as age, gender and ethnicity.”

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