EXCLUSIVE banker behind report alleging HSBC racism resigns due to lack of support


The HSBC logo is seen on a bank branch in the Financial District of New York, United States on August 7, 2019. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid // File Photo

  • Author of “Project Speak Up” Alleged Discrimination at HSBC
  • Said the bank reacted well, but not supported by colleagues
  • HSBC welcomes “a former employee’s commitment to improve”

LONDON, Aug.6 (Reuters) – The author of a report alleging institutional racism within HSBC (HSBA.L) has resigned, citing his frustration over his response to some of his criticisms and the lack of support from his white colleagues, two internal emails seen by Reuters.

Ian Clarke, who was a salesperson in the US Global Liquidity and Cash Management division in New York City, resigned Tuesday in an email sent to around 1,000 employees and senior executives of HSBC’s US and UK operations, seen by Reuters .

HSBC’s new global head of inclusion has tried to reassure staff about his exit, according to the others.

HSBC said in response to Clarke’s resignation that it is committed to improving diversity and inclusion.

“When colleagues raise concerns, we take them seriously and address the issues raised,” the bank said in a statement to Reuters on Friday.

Clarke had sent a 48-page report he called Project Speak Up to senior management at HSBC in June. It was launched on his own initiative and aimed to quantify and combat the alleged discrimination he said he suffered at the bank and which his colleagues have heard about.

Compiled over a year and based on Clarke’s interviews with around 100 staff, it alleged a failure to retain or promote black staff and other ethnic minorities, a lack of such people to leadership positions and insufficient policies to address these problems.

HSBC said it takes the report seriously and will implement many of its recommendations.

London-born Clarke, who describes himself as half Jamaican and half British white, said in his resignation letter to chief executive Noel Quinn that he was happy with some progress.

HSBC has implemented some or all of 9 of its 12 recommendations, he said, including creating better support programs for ethnic minorities and aiming to improve minority representation in key decision-making bodies. .

“And yet regardless, I don’t know a single white person in our company of 226,000 people who has seized the momentum we have created together to come forward and be heard for what is right,” Clarke said. .

Clarke said in his resignation letter that he reported alleged discrimination from several white men he declined to name for three years and all of whom remain in their roles, while five black or skinned people darker had left his team without any additions.

It was a microcosm of a failure to improve diversity at HSBC, he said.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify Clarke’s claims.

His resignation comes as banks come under pressure to keep their promises to improve diversity after the murder of George Floyd by a U.S. police officer in 2020 that sparked global protests.

“We are fully engaged in an environment where people speak out when they see something wrong… If we receive reports of racist or discriminatory behavior, we will take action,” HSBC said.

MANDATORY

HSBC Global Head of Inclusion Carolanne Minashi emailed the roughly 1,000 recipients of Clarke’s resignation letter the next day, reiterating HSBC’s ambition to “work at an accelerated pace” to improve the diversity.

“Many of you know that Ian has had discussions with me and my team, HR and senior management over the past few months,” Minashi wrote in the email seen by Reuters, which did not address the substance of his allegations.

The bank appreciated her commitment to improving HSBC and wished her the best, she said.

Europe’s largest bank said in July 2020 it aims to double the number of black employees in senior positions by 2025, a target that Clarke’s report said did not go far enough. given a weak base.

Black bank employees said in internal meetings they felt overlooked for career opportunities and “uninspired by the lack of senior role models,” Quinn said in a note to all staff seen by Reuters in July 2020.

The memo was the result of meetings with staff at Black HSBC following the spotlight put on systemic racism in the United States and around the world following Floyd’s murder in May of that year.

“We are determined to achieve this goal and I see no need to reaffirm it,” CEO Quinn said on Monday, before Clarke resigned, when asked by Reuters on progress towards the goals.

Among its UK staff, 2.4% have self-identified as black, but among top executives the figure drops to 0.9%, HSBC told Reuters in February. Read more

Reporting by Lawrence White Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Alexander Smith

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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