Series Two, Episode Three: Live Recording – Ethnicity in Diversity – We need to talk about race

Posted on March 1, 2018

This episode was recorded live at the Women of the Square Mile event in London on Tuesday 27th February. Our host Julia Streets was joined by: Pamela Jones, Operational Change and Integration Manager at TP ICAP and Board Member at Women In Listed Derivatives; Dr Miranda Brawn, Director of Legal and Transaction Management (EMEA) at Daiwa and Founder of the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation and Birgit Neu, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at HSBC. Topics discussed included ethnic representation data in Financial Services, the language of race, how to harness the business benefits of improved ethnic diversity, and creating opportunities for shared learning, strong leadership, mentorship and sponsorship.

Links & Resources from this Episode

Andy Woodfield‘s ‘Colour Brave’ carpool video series

Ethnic diversity of UK boards: the Parker review

Prime alliance of law firms across the UK, founded by Hogan Lovells

Ethical Boardroom: Diversity Critical For Institutional Investors, commissioned by Green Park

Race in the workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review

Diversity Matters – Report by McKinsey & Company

Lloyds Banking Group becomes first FTSE 100 Company to set target to increase the proportion of B.A.M.E colleagues in senior management roles

Pamela Jones

Pamela Jones is an Operational Change and Integration Manager with over 15 years’ management experience. Her tenures include managing teams at UBS, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse London and New York. After managing middle office teams throughout her career she decided to take a new role at ICAP PLC in their Global Broking Division to drive global operational efficiencies, innovation and change.

While at ICAP she has been instrumental in forming ICAP’s Women’s Network, of which she is Co-Chair. Founded in 2009 she has delivered a range of in-house events at ICAP, ranging from key senior managers across the business participating in a panel discussion and Q&A on their current roles and life experiences to introducing influential female speakers and entrepreneurs such as Michelle Mone, Eve Pollard and Susan Denmead from Dress for Success alongside a suit-drive.

These successful events led to her broadening her horizons and joining WILD (Women in Listed Derivatives) London where she is now a member of the Board of Directors and chairs the Mentoring Committee. Pamela is a Mentor at Central Foundation Girls School in Bow London and a passionate advocate for empowerment, representation and career progression. Pamela was delighted to accept the invitation to become Corporate Brand Ambassador and Advisory Board Member for Dress for Success London where she has been a Board member for the last 3 years and active in raising funds for the charity through various events while having an opportunity to utilise her skills as a qualified fashion stylist.

You can follow Pamela on Twitter @pamelag40.


Dr Miranda Brawn


Multi award winning Dr Miranda Brawn has a background as an investment banker and barrister having been one of the first women of colour on the trading floor in the 1990s. She is the Director of Legal and Transaction Management where she manages the legal risk for derivatives and regulations at Daiwa. Throughout her career, she has negotiated deals and legal contracts exceeding £5 trillion pounds. Outside of her day job, she is the Founder and CEO of the award winning Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation blazing a trail for the next generation while helping to close the diversity gap across the globe. Her Foundation has made UK history by launching the first diversity lecture aimed at schoolchildren and next generation leaders which won an award from UK Prime Minister Theresa May and personal praise by HRH Prince Charles of Wales and global leaders.

Miranda has been named as one of the UK’s leading diversity champions and is a regular media expert on print, television and radio which include TV shows ranging from ITV’s Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast to Sky’s Sunrise News and BET’s Black Girls Rock across the globe. Miranda’s impressive list of credentials, dedication, hard work and commitment to finance, law, diversity and equality has earned her respect and admiration throughout the UK and on a global basis where she has regularly been named as one of the most influential persons by various annual “Powerlists”. These include Top 30 Global BAME Business Executive Leaders Powerlist (Financial Times), Top 100 Women in European Finance (Financial News) Top 30 Diversity Champions in the City of London (Brummel Magazine) and UK’s Top 10 inspiring females changing Britain (Metro) to name but a few. With a refreshing and diverse background, Miranda is an international public speaker, board advisor, equality commissioner and patron to a number of organisations, charities and governmental bodies.

You can follow Miranda on Twitter @brawnm.


Birgit Neu

Birgit is the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at HSBC. She was previously Head of Private Banking Initiative, Global CMB, HSBC, and also held COO roles within Corporate Communications & Marketing and Corporate Development in HSBC’s GBM business.

Named one of The International Alliance for Women’s World of Difference Top 100 for 2012, European Diversity Awards Inspirational Role Model in 2012, and Women of the Future’s Mentor of the Year in 2009, Birgit has been actively involved in driving diversity efforts in the corporate world for a number of years. At HSBC she was founding co-chair of its Balance employee network for men and women as well as a founding member of the Women on the Wharf initiative linking up the financial and professional services firm’s gender networks in London’s Canary Wharf. She sits on leadership committee for Out on the Street, the global LGBT forum for financial services.

She previously served as UK Director for the Center for Talent Innovation, a non-profit think tank based in New York. Her financial services experience includes communications at Atos Euronext Market Solutions and a variety of roles at electronic broker Instinet. Prior to her work in financial services Birgit worked with book publisher Henry Holt and Company, branding agency Wunderman and restaurant chain Planet Hollywood in NY. Birgit also currently sits on the board of legal charity Advocates for International Development.

You can follow Birgit on Twitter @bneu_andu.


Series Two, Episode Three Transcript

Julia: Hello. My name is Julia Streets and welcome to DiverCity Podcast, talking about diversity and inclusion in financial services.

In each episode we seek to shine a light on successful progress, call out areas requiring further focus, and offer practical ideas to help drive change. Today’s panel is entitled Ethnicity in Diversity, where we’ll be exploring the incredibly important topic of race. I’m joined by three panelists, a Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion for a leading investment bank, a Financial Services’ Lawyer and Founder of a Diversity Leadership Foundation, and a Senior Operations Executive responsible for her own line of business.

Birgit Neu is the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at HSBC, responsible for establishing and driving many initiatives across the bank and the industry, including the balance network in a drive to align men and women in their efforts for greater diversity.

Miranda Brawn is an Investment Banker and a Barrister, having been one of the first black women on the trading floor in the 1990s. She’s also Founder of her own Diversity Leadership Foundation.

And finally, Pamela Jones, is an Operational Change and Integration Manager at TP ICAP with over 15 years of management experience and has worked in some of the world’s largest investment banks in London and New York. Her mentorship includes her work as part of women enlisted derivatives and she is a Brand Ambassador for Dress for Success.

So to the audience here at the Women of the Square Mile Conference in February 2018 where we are recording this episode, I invite you to welcome our panelists today.

Ladies, a very warm welcome to you all. Thank you for being part of this podcast today. So we do need to talk about race and I’m going to start, Miranda, with you, if I may, because we’ve talked a lot about this; the data around ethnic representation in financial services is shockingly bad. Why don’t you walk us through some numbers and then we’ll take it from there.

Miranda: In terms of finance and the actual numbers, we aren’t seeing enough women of colour in the boardroom. You don’t even need to look at statistics and data. There aren’t enough women in the boardroom. There aren’t enough women in senior management. So I started in the 1990s when I was the only person of colour on the trading floor at that time. There were a few women but the only person of colour apart from a few Asian IT men. So I think you just need to look around, you don’t even need to look at statistics. If you look around in your organisation, if you look around at your team, if you look around who is in charge, who is in the senior management positions, the data will speak for itself. But open your eyes and it’s really obvious in terms of where we’re lacking in race diversity.

I’m so pleased we’re having this conversation because it’s a very important conversation to have. Having the discussion around race, it really does impact not only the workplace but it impacts social, political, your personal lives, as well. It’s really important to have these conversations to benefit not only the workplace but also society overall in the twenty-first century.

Julia: And I’m keen to get a benchmark, if you like. So can you share some data at the moment about where the industry is today?

Miranda: So, if you look at, I mean, I don’t have the exact numbers in terms of finance, but if you look at the FTSE 100, for example, and you look at those type of organisations, when you look at the number of women that are in senior management levels, they’re reducing, year after year it’s getting lower and lower, it’s not increasing. If you look at Black Asians or Minority Ethnics, and I hate the expression BAME, but if you look at BAME as well, not only in the finance industry but within the Square Mile, when you have law firms and you have other organisations, we’re just not seeing the race diversity statistics.

Julia: This is the point I made in the City AM article that I wrote this morning – ultimately what is going to drive change is business performance. The city is not an altruistic place to be.

Miranda: Yes.

Julia: There are some very good initiatives but naturally, it is about business performance that will drive change. I’d like to turn to Pamela, because with your years of experience on the operational and the business side of things, what are the compelling business benefits of addressing and really thinking about ethnic diversity?

Pamela: I’ve been in the city for over 25 years. If I’m brutally honest, first of all I find diversity and inclusion problematic in its language because inclusion then infers that there is an exclusion and, more importantly, inclusion seems like some day, one day. It’s too far off in the future. So for me, I find that quite problematic. Further, to that I would prefer that we language this better, and we say equalities – equalities across the board, and that’s all races, LGBT, age, religion, the whole gambit.

In my personal opinion, the business benefits are clear as day. What is not happening is that, there are people who are not occupying spaces of influence that can make that culture change. Those people are still very much male, very much pale. They hire in their own image so, therefore, they are excluding this whole wide pool of absolutely great talent out there that they will never find because they are going to the same well to get those people, that talent pool. And I feel like it’s time for a change.

The lady before me, whose name escapes me at the moment, talked about trillions of dollars worth of business potential that we are not getting by just bringing in women. So can you imagine around … take that number and disseminate that to all different cultures, races, people. So, for me, the business benefits speak for themselves.

Julia: Driving that change, there’s clearly a role for Diversity Inclusion. Birgit, I look at you at this point to think about your global job and some of the initiatives you’ve been doing there. I’m very keen to get into some examples of best practice and good practice, and where corporates have embraced and are driving change.

Birgit: I think it became clear to me when I started looking just at gender around the city, around about the time when Helena was kicking off with the 30% Club. I remember looking at just the gender initiatives and thinking, “Gosh, it’s an awful lot of white women that all have the same background.” It was a really homogenous crowd of people that were working on trying to drive change and it was, again to Miranda’s point, really obvious to see that there weren’t a lot of other voices that were represented around the room.

Now, here we still are. We’re still facing all those challenges with gender, all those problems aren’t solved. There’s increasing interest not just from individuals working at all of our firms but also from investors, from regulators, from customers around what we’re doing around other forms of diversity. Ethnicity is the next one that’s coming up the curve but there’s been very much this ‘one strand at a time’ approach, and we just can’t operate that way. I think we need to recognise that the different forms of diversity have different challenges and opportunities that come with them.

And language is such an important thing in how we talk about them. I think there’s been a lot of discussion so far around the city on the BAME agenda. Even within things like the Parker Review, lots of discussion within that. For anybody who hasn’t read it, the Parker Review is the review looking at ethnicity on boards, a really important piece of reading there for everybody because the numbers are still woeful. I think it is at about 2% for UK citizens from ethnic background on boards. But language is something that we can’t actually all agree on because BAME, in and of itself, just captures such a wide variety of backgrounds. Looking at all the other strands of diversity beyond that, the problem gets more and more complicated.

But I think, just focusing on the BAME piece, language is important, stories are important. It’s also making sure that we are getting the lived experiences. I’m very clearly am not from an ethnic background, but hearing the stories and understanding from those people who are connecting with the networks, connecting with the talent that are coming from different backgrounds to understand what is it that they’re actually running into in our organisational cultures, and where do we need to put those interventions into place? Where in the pipeline are their challenges? Is it recruitment? Is it with the hiring that we do more broadly? Is it, in terms of the pipeline and promotions? So there’s no one answer. I think it’s really important to look all the way through the employee life cycle and then also start thinking, more importantly, about customers because how are we actually deploying that diversity that we’ve got.

Julia: One of our guests on the podcast series, is a guy called Andy Woodfield, who’s from PwC, and he has a very good, I think…., Miranda you’ve been on it.

Miranda: Yeah.

Julia: ….He has a very good YouTube series called Colour Brave. It is addressing that whole question about language and actually beginning to show some insights into people’s experience, people’s career journeys. And just taking a little bit of leap aside, in my world of FinTech where you look at innovation, where you drive change and you want to innovate through technology, you put different brains and different skills around a central challenge and you try and create it, test it, break it, and move on as quickly as you possibly can. I think that’s one of the most compelling reasons for diversity, looking at everybody, individual and also shared experiences, in order to build, to drive change and reflect not only customers, but it was actually very interesting to hear somebody talk about investors, investor appetite for change as well, which is fantastic.

Which of the initiatives are really accelerating change? And where do we need to focus more in the short term? Miranda.

Miranda: I think Lloyd’s Bank recently, they’ve just announced, they’re the first FTSE 100 organisation to actually set a target where they want to increase the number of senior management from a Black Asian Minority Ethnic background to 8%. It’s currently at 5.3%. I think this is a really important step in terms of us achieving true diversity. There’s also another organisation called Tesla, which is an auto maker, and they’ve also recently hired a black female to join the board. So I think it’s having examples like this, not only within this country but I think the States is also miles ahead in terms of where we should be when we look at race diversity. So I think it’s also looking at other countries and other industries, not just within the Square Mile. When we look at the tech sector as well to see what lessons are being learned and how can we speed up the process in order for us to achieve race diversity?

Julia: So the power of role modeling, is incredibly important and to look on stages and see representation …

Miranda: Absolutely.

Julia: … of incredibly successful people. I hear a lot of people say, it’s almost this expectation…., “Well, middle management,” it’s an implication that middle management is as far as you could possibly aspire to achieve. But that’s just nonsense in my mind. It’s a point that comes out a lot in discussion, about the pipeline. Are we seeing that talent come through? Pamela, I’m interested in your thoughts around where we find the skills? You mentioned that in your opening comments.

Pamela: Yeah, sure. I think that historically, as I said, we tend to have gone to the Red Brick universities where there’s already under representation of black and ethnic minorities going into those Red Brick universities. A lot of them feel disenfranchised, they don’t feel they’ll have a fruitful experience. But what I’ve seen change is that we are now looking at different spaces and pools of talent. So we’re going to academies, we’re going to inner London schools to look for pools of talent that we can actually bring in and fast track their career progression. So I think that’s really good. I think it’s been slow. I have to be honest, it’s been slow. But I do think that once we start to bring in different peoples from different socioeconomic backgrounds, then we start to become culture changers. And what I would like for my daughter or granddaughter is to actually look, when she gets into a corporate, to see herself reflected in middle management, in senior management, and on the board. So somehow, right there, she can see steps to progression. Right now, that is not available to women of colour.

It’s not available. It is not afforded to us. I should make that point.

Julia: Thank you. And would anyone like to respond to that?

Miranda: Just to add, so the reason why I launched the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation over two years ago, was because I was very frustrated at the lack of action around race diversity. It was at a time when race was the elephant in the room, people weren’t talking about race and I was getting bombarded by the next generation of Black Asians of Minority Ethnics, asking for work experience and mentoring. I realised that there’s a massive gap. They’ve got the ambition, they really want to achieve the positions that we’re all in today but they don’t have the networks, they don’t know how to do it.

That’s why I launched the Diversity Foundation and I think it’s so important to close that gap. I get hundreds of applications from the next generation ranging from Oxford and Cambridge m to East London University. And I think it’s really important, if we are looking to close the diversity gap, it’s not just about the physical aspect, whether you’re female, whether you’re black, Asian, or a minority ethnic, it’s also down to the background, the experience. One of the things that I’m doing is actually looking at working class white and black, white females, and also males as well. So I also think there’s a class element.

Julia: Yes.

Miranda: I just want to quickly add, recently, I think, over the last two days, there was a BBC presenter who said, “Everyone’s talking about race at the moment but there’s a class issue as well.” And class isn’t being addressed. Class is considered under the social mobility aspect and there are lots of organisations working towards that. For example, PRIME, that works on the legal side and it’s chaired by Nicholas Cheffings, who is the Global Chair of Hogan Lovells. But, I think, one of the key things that we need to do is, when we discuss race, it affects gender, it affects social mobility.

Pamela: Totally.

Miranda: It affects LGBT, it affects so many different diversity strands. When I have conversations with senior management who are typically white males, the conversations I have or that they tell me is, “Well, we really need to focus on gender.” That was what I was hearing two years ago and that’s why I launched the Foundation. I think, through having conversations like this, it’s the positive first step to closing that gap. But now we need to work towards the action as well.

What type of things can we be doing? There’s employee referrals. People say to me, “But I just don’t know where the talent is.” We need to change where they’re looking and give the referrals, introduce them to so many organisations that are looking. Like Green Park did a report last August. Green Park is an organisation that’s looking to diversify the workforce. There are so many initiatives out there. It’s through having contacts like the panelists here today, where we can actually help to make those introductions and close that gap.

Julia: I’ll turn to Birgit at this point, because in your opening comments you were talking about how the world has very much been seen through silos. Where do you see the opportunities to blend and learn from each other? And where do you see the barriers still sitting?

Birgit: I think there’s more and more opportunity, and as has already been referenced, there are more organisations coming in across the city to look at best practice. There are quite a few on the gender side around organisations sharing best practice, there’s more momentum starting to come in around race so that people can find out exactly what are the sorts of things that they should be doing. Also, because some things might work in some organisations, the problems might look slightly different by the type of organisation. So there’s not going to be a one size fits all approach, especially because ethnicity and race does have the added complexities of the interweaving themes around religion, as well as culture, socioeconomic background. So it’s a more challenging one to unpick.

But, we come back to data, which is important. Not only the kind of HR data around characteristics, we also look at employee surveys, as my other HSBC colleagues have already mentioned, to understand again, what are people experiencing in the workplace. Where should those interventions go into place? Do we need to look at, just like we’ve done with gender, lots of discussions around sponsorship and how sponsorship can help pull individuals up? So how are we pulling up? If we do manage to get the talent in and we’re finding it from different sources, how are we pulling it through the organisation? Also things like reverse mentoring to help even just raise awareness of what are the BAME-specific issues so that senior leadership teams understand what the challenge is and don’t just go, “Well, we can’t necessarily see the data.” Or, “It’s really complicated, so we’re just going to leave this one to the side.”

Julia: Pamela, did you want to add something?

Pamela: Yes, definitely. Around data, I’ve got to say, who is collating the data? Who is marking the homework? Who is actually going out to people within these spaces that have lived experiences and collating that data? I know from my own personal experience that, when people leave who looked like me from a corporate, it’s layered. It’s never just because of one thing. It will be because of many things. They’re not going to sit there in an exit interview and sabotage themselves by saying, “Actually, it was because Joe said XYZ and blah, blah, blah.” They’re not going to do that. So I feel like the data, whilst it’s absolutely imperative we have something, that too, to me, feels a little bit wishy-washy because we’re not really getting to the lived experiences of the people in the corporates. I feel like someone needs to do the homework properly to really get that, and start placing people in positions of influence to start that culture change.

Miranda: Thank you. Can I just add? So, in terms of data, we’ve got the McGregor Smith Review that came out last year and that highlighted that, if we increased race diversity within the workforce, we would add 24 billion pounds to the UK economy. That’s massive. McKinsey did a report three years ago in 2015. It highlighted gender diversity, it will increase the workplace effectiveness by 50%. Put race diversity into the mix and that will increase the workplace effectiveness by 35%. We’ve mentioned the 30% Club. I think that was for gender diversity. We need to apply the same thing to race.

Pamela: Yeah.

Miranda: I think that’s what we need to do. We need to have a target in place. I know Lloyd’s Bank is a perfect example, where they said they want to increase their BAME senior management by 2020, I think by 10%; at the moment it’s around the 8% mark. But I think it’s having those types of targets and data to help. But I want to say one last thing, cause I know that we’re approaching …

Julia: We’re keen to open it up the audience as well.

Miranda: Yes. But, what I do want to say is, the data backs everything up. There’s only so many reports that we can have published year after year. At the end of the day, look around. You don’t even need to wait for someone from a Black Asian Minority Ethnic background to leave to find out why they’re leaving. When I was at JP Morgan many years ago, there were black associates who were in their 40’s that had been at the bank for so many years and I was Chair of their Black Networking Group, and they had not progressed. So sometimes you need to look and think, if we’ve got a particular person of colour in an organisation, or a female in an organisation, or a person from LGBT in an organisation, and they have not progressed, they’ve stayed at the same level for five, ten years, and we’ve done nothing with them, that’s also something we need to start thinking about and applying into the workplace.

Pamela: And I have had a similar experience to you, where I’ve been the only woman on the dealing floor, the only black woman on the dealing floor in the nineties as well, Miranda. I too was invited onto the Network in Diversity Board, and nothing changed. Nothing. I was at that bank for 15 years. I had peers who were promoted above me. I had people come in above me. It took years for me to get sponsorship. These are the lived experiences of people in some corporates and I think we need to start having a conversation about this. This is our experience.

Julia: I’m going to have to jump in. Now Miranda, I know you’re speaking next. I’m going to ask you if we could take some of your time in your next session, so that we could open up to the audience?

Miranda: Yes. I’d be glad to do that.

Julia: Okay, good – life is always a negotiation! So for the listeners of the podcast, we have a square microphone that gets thrown around.

Julia (voiceover): As you’ll hear, the conference floor microphone makes it a little hard to pick up the questions. So at the risk of inadequately paraphrasing, the question acknowledged the challenges of financial services’ sector and the responsibility on the BAME communities to support each other in driving change, and invite its comments from the public.

Pamela, would you like to respond?

Pamela: I would like to respond to that. I would say you are absolutely right – we should be bringing people along with us and we should have good sponsors. A lot of people struggle to find good sponsors. We, by nature, put our heads down and we work, and we work hard, and we think suddenly a light is going to shine on us and they will know that you are a great person and you’re so productive. But you have to go into the workplace and find a sponsor, and even that can be somewhat challenging. To let someone actually sponsor you so that you can move through that career journey. I’m totally with you, and I accept that, and I love bringing people with me.

Julia: I’d like to take one more question. I think we have a question on the fourth row back there. If you’d like to just pass the mike over, if you would. Thank you. Thanks.

Julia (voiceover): The second question acknowledged that the audience was largely made up of white men and women. So the panel was asked for practical guidance on what the audience could take back to their financial institutions.

Thank you very much. I’m going to allow you literally ten seconds each, come up with one idea each. Miranda?

Miranda: Speak up. One quick example. I was on the trading floor, self-trading at a very large global investment bank. Looked around, I’m the only one in 2008 of colour. I said to my boss, “Do you realise that we have no people of colour in a revenue generating role?” He didn’t realise. Sometimes you need to mention, not in an aggressive, fight the power, Malcolm X way, but just in, have you noticed? Look around. And he said, “I didn’t realise.” Within six months, we had two African traders on the entry side. So sometimes it doesn’t have to be, “Oh, my god. What plan, what strategy are going to do?” It can be just talking to your immediate manager or your global head and just having those types of discussions.

Julia: Birgit.

Birgit: I think a quick one I’ll steal from the author, Margaret Heffernan, who some of you might be aware of, has written amazing stuff on D&I. But she just talks about just sponsor somebody who looks different from you. Right?

Julia: Yeah.

Birgit: If we get everybody doing that, things will move a lot faster.

Julia: Yeah.

Miranda: Yeah.

Julia: Pamela.

Pamela: I think, if we want to reflect in our workplace, where we live, and where we work, which is London, we’ve got a long way to go. We need to get people in certain spaces to make that happen.

Julia: Perfect. Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the podcast. I would like to thank our panel and also thank our audience today. A round of applause for our panelists. Thank you.

Kieron: This episode of DiverCity Podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. You can find out more about the guests on this week’s show on our website at Whilst you’re there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates. To be sure of catching all our future podcasts, subscribe to our feed on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. If you’ve enjoyed this episode of DiverCity Podcast, remember to give us a rating or review in iTunes. It all helps promote the show to a wider audience. Finally, our Twitter handle is @DiverCitypod. Thanks for listening.