Bank of England
Deploying Inclusion Data to Create Opportunity for Black and Minority Ethnic Talent
The Bank of England is the UK’s central bank and one of its most venerable institutions, dating to 1694. Its mission is to maintain monetary and financial stability for the UK’s citizens. It does this through the monitoring and security of payments (e.g. creating banknotes and supervising credit card systems), regulating the rate of inflation, and monitoring banks to ensure they are operating prudently.
The Bank is an institution where risk mitigation is critical to out- comes. Diversity amongst leadership teams, when included correct- ly, has been shown in research and practice to be a highly effective means of tackling blind spots, managing risk, and improving performance. The benefits of D&I to the Bank in promoting the wider good of the people of the UK are therefore evidenced.
The Bank’s aim is to create an environment where everyone, regardless of their background or identity, feels welcome and can thrive. While the Bank and its employees certainly understand the value of differing perspectives to avoid groupthink and improve decision-making, it has historically been a hierarchical organisation with a variety of well- established norms.
In the labyrinthine halls of the Bank, simply finding one’s way to a meeting room can be an ordeal. The Bank is full of unique protocols and traditions that have been established over centuries. Some of these are helpful and inspiring. But other historical aspects can have a negative or damaging impact. To take one major example, Bank leaders have recently acknowledged and apologised for the links of former Governors and Directors to the slave trade.
In order to create a more inclusive environment, the Bank first needed to understand which of its common behaviours and traits were creating exclusion and which ones were not. Only then could we develop interventions that would actually be effective in creating a more inclusive culture without removing positive aspects of the Bank’s culture.
We began our partnership with the Bank in January 2018, with a steering group that oversaw the bespoke application of Included’s Inclusion Diagnostic (ID) – a survey tool designed to quantitatively measure the level of inclusion in the Bank’s culture. By measuring employee perceptions and experiences of behaviours that we know contribute to or detract from inclusion, we can develop more specific interventions. In other words, the ID allows us to more precisely diagnose what groups are feeling excluded, why they feel that way, and what the effects of that are. As such, we can intervene in a much more targeted way.
The ID provided clear insights into inclusion by demographic group in the Bank. In January 2018, there was a statistically significant gap between Black (especially Black female) and White perceptions of inclusion. Black and minority ethnic employees scored the Bank lower than White employees across all categories of inclusion like psychological safety and perceived objectivity in decision-making. And Black women felt less included than White men across each inclusion category. We were also able to look at other aspects of intersectionality – such as Black women – to highlight gaps in experience, finding for example that race was more of a driving factor for exclusion than disability.
As another example, while there were some gender differences for inclusion, we found that this was moderated by seniority. That is, when holding seniority level constant the gender differences went away. Therefore, the gender differences we were seeing in the overall results were being driven by differences among seniority groups. Thus, again, to solve those gender differences we needed to first tackle differences by seniority.
The Bank decided to act on the findings and we launched a sponsorship programme to address Black and minority ethnic underrepresentation at Scale C and above. Sponsorship, where senior leaders open their networks to and advocate on behalf of their sponsees, has been shown to be much more effective than mentorship at actually increasing rates of progression for women and ethnic minorities. In the first phase of our sponsorship programme, we paired high-performing Black and minority ethnic talent with Executive Directors (ED). In the second phase, participation was extended to governors, including Governor Mark Carney. The idea was for the most senior people in the Bank to take personal responsibility for the career progression of brilliant, but under-represented Black and minority ethnic talent.
The Bank is a world leader in statistical analysis. By introducing statistical approaches to inclusion, we were able to resonate with existing thinking styles. This in turn helped senior managers and Governors understand more deeply the human issues in the Bank, including the Black and minority ethnic experience.
In implementing the sponsorship programme, we were able to measure promotion rates and ultimately to increase the Black and minority ethnic promotion rate to senior levels. The most valuable feedback from Black and minority ethnic participants was that they felt, often for the first time in their entire career, that they had received candid, honest and helpful feedback on how to progress. Similarly, the sponsors valued the experience they had of engaging with people they might never have otherwise come into contact with.
More broadly, the Bank has made positive year-on-year progress on diversity. It is moving towards its 2022 targets of having 35% of senior roles to be female, 13% Black and minority ethnic representation in senior roles, and having met its 2020 target of 20% Black and minority ethnic representation below senior management level
The Bank has taken an insight-led approach to successfully build a more inclusive organisation, combining statistics, effective leadership and inclusive sponsorship. While the pandemic has required a postponement a re-run of the ID to see how the Bank’s inclusion metrics have progressed over time, we will be looking to run this again in 2021. From there, we will help to prioritise the next set of work for the Bank to implement its continued journey to becoming even more inclusive.
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