About the Charter

Navigating Two Worlds

Gen. CQ Brown, Jr, US Air Force Chief of Staff, June 2020

The Demand for Action

There are few issues with the power to knock a once-in-a-century global pandemic off the world’s headlines.  The wave of anger that swept across the world in 2020 at the inequities and biases faced by Black people, and the lack of progress over decades to address them, did just that.


It erupted following the killing of George Floyd in the USA in May 2020, on the same day as the attempted exploitation of racial stereotypes by Amy Cooper, a white finance executive, against an African-American writer in Central Park, in the hope of securing his arrest.  The ensuing debate has laid bare the discrimination faced by Black people – including professionals – in many aspects of their daily lives, not least their careers.  This is a UK as much as a US problem.


  • As Green Park noted at the launch of its Leadership 10,000 survey report in 2019, the data showed that “while females are slowly taking their seats in the boardroom, people of colour remain super-glued to the corporate floor.”


  • In February 2020, the Parker Review Committee noted that “there are too few people within corporate Britain prepared to seize the opportunity to drive the corporate change we sought to encourage and embrace a talent pool that is Board-ready and truly global.”


  • In an open letter to UK business in July 2020, 39 financial, professional and other firms noted the lack of action on black under-representation in UK business in strong terms.


  • On 28 January 2021, the Legal Department of the Coca-Cola Company sent an open letter to external law firms. In that letter, the Company made it clear that the time had come to stop championing good intentions and motivations, and instead to reward action and results. “Quite simply, this is now an expectation.”

The Response

The Charter responds to this urgent call for meaningful action to redress the balance for Black professionals in the workplace after so many decades of inaction.  It is a game-changing initiative which goes far beyond the first step of offering internships. It demands, not simply aspirational statements (however sincere), but collaborative action by firms across financial and professional sectors to create within 10 years a new environment for the recruitment, retention and progression of black talent; a vibrant, competitive market with genuine equality of opportunity for all; and a real meritocracy in the sectors with a workforce more truly reflective of the UK working population. 


In order to address the challenge of the under-representation of black talent and to deliver the systematic change that is required, the programme  will include a number of inter-dependent elements:


  • the development of an authoritative knowledge hub of initiatives, programmes and academic research in this area


  • the development of powerful, cross-sectoral networks, networking opportunities, events and other programmes to maximise the potential of black professionals in signatory firms


  • the development of powerful, cross-sectoral networks and programmes among signatory firms to establish and share best practice for the recruitment, retention and progression of black talent


  • the development and annual assessment of targets and data to measure the progress of the signature cohort on recruitment, career progression and promotion, with clear action plans devised and delivered by the senior leadership of each firm with full accountability.


An annual review will be published each year on how the sector and signatory firms are performing as a cohort against the Charter commitments, based on an analysis of information submitted by signatory firms.

The Focus on Black Talent

Why the focus on black talent?  It is well recognised that different ethnic groups face different inequities as a result of their different histories and the assumptions and expectations imposed by distinct stereotyping.  Studies have shown that black professionals face greater disadvantages and inequities in the workplace through negative stereotyping and bias (whether conscious or unconscious) than other minority ethnic groups, and the global debate on race has shone a spotlight on this fact.

Senior Investment Bankers in London

Furthermore, Black representation at Top 20 level (i.e. Board and Executive Committee) was down across almost every sector when compared to 2018, most markedly in the banking and finance sector.

Financial News reported in July 2020 that, out of the 650 senior investment bankers at London’s top 11 investment banks, only 3 (less than 0.5%) were Black, compared with a total of 13% in the general “BAME” category.  This is a stark illustration of how the “BAME” acronym conceals the particular disadvantages faced by Black professionals.

Law Firm Partners

In a report in November 2020 on ethnicity and disadvantage in Britain, the Centre Social Justice noted that “[t]here are also often larger socioeconomic disparities between Britain’s ethnic minority groups (e.g. between Asian and Black groups) and within them (e.g. between Black African and Black Caribbean) than there are between the ‘BAME’ and White population.”  The report concluded, “it is time to acknowledge that the ‘BAME’ category has lost virtually all analytical value. Put simply: a ‘BAME’ person simply does not exist.”

The homogenising effect of the “BAME” acronym masks the greater disadvantage and discrimination experienced by Black people by comparison with the other white and non-white ethnic groups included in it. It is therefore essential to focus on this most disadvantaged ethnic group, and that is the purpose of this Charter.


The Charter can, nonetheless, exist as part of each signatory firm’s wider equal opportunities programme for all minority groups.  The disciplines of its pledges will complement, and may enhance, any wider programme.

The Leadership



The Charter was created and launched by Harry Matovu KC with Michael Eboda, Founder and CEO of Powerful Media.