Our ethnicity action plan

We want to be transparent about our challenges, hold ourselves accountable for progress, and set an example to the firms we regulate.

We’ve worked hard over recent years to make sure the FCA is more ethnically representative of the society we serve, and that everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, has fair opportunities to work, to develop and to progress at the FCA. But we know we need to do more.

The events of 2020, in particular, highlighted the impact of racism and discrimination in society. And the data we track, through our diversity dashboard and our pay gap data, shows that we still have an ethnicity imbalance across the organisation and some difficult issues to address.

While we continue to make progress, there’s still much more to do, and things are not changing at the pace we’d like. That’s why we have made a commitment to change. By publishing our ethnicity action plan externally, we seek to be transparent about our challenges, hold ourselves accountable for progress, and set an example to the firms we regulate.

We would all benefit from a more diverse and inclusive financial services industry, and we have a key role to play, both as an employer and a regulator, in making change happen.  

We recognise that we have many other diversity and inclusion challenges, both as an employer and a regulator. But our data, and the lived experiences of our people, show us that we must not shy away from calling out our ethnicity challenges and being specific about how we address them. We’ve grouped our strategic actions of our ethnicity action plan into 5 areas of initial focus.

  • Transparency and data to hold us to account: Having more granular data allows us to better understand our issues, and be more targeted in our action. This part of our ethnicity action plan focuses on pay gap, data breakdown and our targets.
  • BAME talent pipeline and progression: Investing more in developing and progressing BAME talent to address structural imbalances in our organisation.
  • Training and support: Providing the necessary training and support is key for advancement in racial equality.
  • Accountability: It's vital that all colleagues are accountable for their part to play in making progress; we commit to keeping accountability embedded right across the organisation.
  • Our role as a regulator: We remain committed to prioritising diversity and inclusion, as part of our Public Section Equality Duty and because it's so integral to good culture and conduct.

Our ethnicity action plan progress 

Transparency and data to hold us to account 

We increased transparency in our pay gap reporting. We now break our ethnicity pay gap down further into the UK census ethnicity categories, look at our pay gaps by contractual grade and publish our intersectional gender and ethnicity pay gap data.

Our diversity and inclusion dashboard was updated to ensure it is comprehensive and fit-for-purpose to support more specific positive action.

We’ve expanded our gender and ethnicity targets beyond our SLT – introducing targets at Manager, Technical Specialist and Senior Associate level. 

BAME talent pipeline and progression 

We ran a series of manager diversity and inclusion focus groups to understand how we can best support line managers to be enablers of change for diversity and inclusion. And to better understand some of the actual or perceived barriers to progression from a manager’s perspective. 

Our BAME sponsorship programme received positive feedback from its second cohort, and we plan to launch the third cohort of this programme, in line with other FCA talent development programmes. The BAME sponsorship programme offers support to talented BAME colleagues to accelerate their career progression. Participants are paired with an SLT sponsor to support them and identify opportunities to help them grow further, enhancing existing leadership skills, increasing confidence and resilience as well as the opportunity to build strong networks within the FCA and possibly externally.

A new inclusive talent review process was launched. Talent reviews are key to understanding the capability and development potential of all our people. They provide insights into the depth and breadth of capability across the FCA, and enable us to make more informed decisions on how we develop, deploy or even recruit people at the FCA. The approach is designed to mitigate the influence of unconscious biases by introducing greater objectivity, inclusivity and transparency to the way that we assess, discuss and develop the potential of our people. This is part of a long-term strategy and we anticipate that it may take a couple years before the benefits of this new approach come to fruition.

We continue to progress our diversity and inclusion resourcing strategy, which aims to bring together ‘inclusive recruitment’ practices to deliver the right solutions for the FCA. 

The Black Futures Programme was run in September 2020 and February 2021, welcoming cohorts of Black undergraduates and acting as a diverse pipeline for our summer internship and graduate programmes. So far across both programmes, we have been able to make 9 offers onto our 2021 Summer Internship which has a total of 25 places.

Training and support 

Providing the necessary training and support is key for advancement in equality. We’ve introduced a ‘Managers’ Tips for Talking’ toolkit encouraging managers to have conversations about race, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and helping create safe spaces for discussions to take place.

We understand the key role allies play in supporting a culture of inclusion. So we launched an ‘Acts of Allyship’ toolkit to provide guidance and insight into how to be an active ally in practical terms. A pilot of the ‘Better Allies Self Education Club’ or ‘BASEC’ was also launched in our Retail Banks and Payments division, creating safe spaces for colleagues to further their knowledge and skills as allies, and has since been rolled out more widely.

Our Race and Ethnicity network group, Spectrum, and BASEC launched a video series, ‘Honest Talk’ covering common misconceptions and pitfalls about race, and what we can do together to combat racism in our lives. We also launched a pilot Honest Talk 1-2-1’s, facilitating confidential informal conversations about race and ethnicity. 

We launched a Corporate Responsibility resource page to provide a central resource area for all areas of diversity and inclusion to further support colleague learning. 

We’ve introduced a suite of diversity and inclusion workshops for our Senior Leadership Team and People Manager colleagues. These workshops focus on exploring privilege – recognising and dismantling our personal privileges so we can understand their impact and use the power that comes with privilege to level the playing field for BAME colleagues – as well microaggressions and bystander intervention to help colleagues call out non-inclusive behaviour and support psychological safety. 

Accountability

Each year our Executive Diversity Committee holds a challenge session with our Executive Committee members to make sure they’re taking personal accountability for progress. Our Executive Diversity Committee has committed to holding that challenge session more frequently. This reflects the importance of continued challenge and holding our leadership team to account for progress against our diversity and inclusion objectives.

We’ve reviewed, in detail, our Executive Diversity Committee to assess the current role and structure of its membership and to understand how the committee should evolve given the changing landscape and importance of diversity and inclusion. 

Our updated comprehensive diversity and inclusion data dashboard enables us to measure progress more clearly, and to hold our leadership team to account for progress on metrics in their respective areas. 

Our role as a regulator

We remain committed to prioritising diversity and inclusion, as part of our Public Sector Equality Duty and because we believe it is integral to good culture and conduct. 

We recognise the evidence that diversity of thought, when part of an inclusive culture, supports better decision-making and avoids groupthink in firms. We also recognise that firms need to be sufficiently diverse and inclusive to be able to understand and meet the needs of diverse customer bases. Prioritising and embedding such considerations reduces the risk of harm to consumers and to market integrity, and encourages innovation, through the development of products and services designed to meet the needs of all consumers.  

We want the benefits of more diverse and inclusive regulated firms and listed companies, to result in diversity and inclusion being considered as part of a firm’s culture and in the design, delivery and breadth of products and services. So that ultimately those products and services meet the needs of a diverse customer base, offer fair value and are delivered in a fair and accessible way. 

We’ve published a joint Discussion Paper (PDF) with the PRA and Bank of England on diversity and inclusion in the financial sector. We want to begin an open discussion with industry and other stakeholders on how we should use our powers to further diversity and inclusion within firms. It clarifies why we as regulators care about diversity and inclusion, the importance of data, and options for driving change through policy.

Page updates

15/07/2021: Information changed Updates following Annual Report 2020/21.