Black representation in finance and the professions

In the 2021 Census, over 19% of the population of London (the heart of the banking and finance sectors and the professions) identified as Black or Mixed.  However, the representation of Black/Mixed talent in senior executive positions in financial institutions and the professions bears no resemblance to these figures.


  • In July 2020, Financial News reported data from leading banking headhunters in the City, which showed that, out of the 650 senior investment bankers at London’s top 11 investment banks, only 3 were black.


  • In October 2020, out of 593 barristers in the six sets described by The Lawyer magazine as the ‘Magic Circle’ sets at the UK Commercial Bar, there were only 5 black barristers.


  • In the same month, the Financial Reporting Council’s 2019 report on Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession revealed that BAME individuals made up only 6.7% of partner roles at the largest firms, and that “glaringly” no firms with under 200 employees reported that they had BAME managers.


  • In Autumn 2022, a study sponsored by leading City law firms (The 1% Study) revealed that only 90 out of 13,000 partners in major UK law firms were black, and that law firms were particularly struggling to retain and progress black solicitors from junior ranks and middle management level to senior levels.

Black talent is significantly under-represented in finance and the professions, the highest paying sectors of the economy.




Yet black talent has a higher representation in universities than in the UK working population (8% in all universities and 4% in the top 20).



As a leading law firm told us in 2022, We struggle with recruitment – specifically, in communicating the message that we are open and welcoming to Black talent.” 


Furthermore, the under-representation of black talent is exacerbated by the ‘stay gap’ –  black professionals are less likely to stay and progress in their firms than their peers.


As a signatory firm said in 2022, Our biggest challenge is retention – our black talent is leaving faster than other talent. Moreover, it is very difficult to lateral hire as the market is so small.”

No single firm or organisation, however large, can solve these problems alone.  The best that can realistically be hoped for is to identify, recruit and retain a few talented individuals in a continuingly sparse market – if they can persuade them to join their organisation. 


The Charter seeks fundamentally to change the landscape for black talent by developing a broad coalition of firms and organisations across all sectors of financial and professional services, who will collaborate to strengthen their workplace cultures, challenge ingrained thinking and address the risk of stereotyping and unconscious bias.  Such a collaboration provides the best chance to create an environment, in which talented black professionals can have confidence to pursue careers in these sectors, to aspire to lead and to be represented at the highest levels of top organisations, and to make a full contribution to their firms and to the wider economy.