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The Essential Podcast, Episode 39: Accelerating Black Inclusion in Financial Services — Institutional and Cultural Barriers

S&P Global

Daily Update: November 24, 2021

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Listen: The Essential Podcast, Episode 39: Accelerating Black Inclusion in Financial Services — Institutional and Cultural Barriers

About this Episode

Yasmine Chinwala, Partner at the London-based think tank New Financial, and Pierre Davis, Chief Legal Officer at S&P Global Platts, explore New Financial’s latest research on inclusion of Black individuals in the U.K. professional sector, the absence of Black faces in finance, and what companies should do next in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

The Essential Podcast from S&P Global is dedicated to sharing essential intelligence with those working in and affected by financial markets. Host Nathan Hunt focuses on those issues of immediate importance to global financial markets – macroeconomic trends, the credit cycle, climate risk, energy transition, and global trade – in interviews with subject matter experts from around the world.

Listen and subscribe to this podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Deezer.

Show Notes
  • Read Accelerating Black Inclusion, New Financial's research, sponsored by S&P Global's Diversity Research Lab, on listening, learning, and taking action to improve the progression of Black colleagues in finance services.

Nathan Hunt: There aren't a lot of Black people in finance. This statement is both obviously true and deeply controversial. Finance is supposed to be a meritocracy. The only color that is supposed to matter is green. So why aren't there more Black people in finance? S&P Global sponsored a piece of research by New Financial, a London-based think tank that believes capital markets can and should be a force for economic and social good. The topic of the research was 'Black Inclusion in the Workplace.' This is The Essential Podcast from S&P Global my name is Nathan Hunt. I'm joined by Yasmine Chinwala, one of the partners at New Financial.

Yasmine Chinwala: My name is Yasmine Chinwala. I'm a partner at a think tank called New Financial we're based in London. We’re a capital markets think tank, we have focused on making a positive case for capital markets and I lead our diversity and culture coverage.

Nathan Hunt: And also, by Pierre Davis, the Chief Legal Officer at S&P Global Platts. Also, a participant in this research.

Pierre Davis: Hi, I am Pierre Davis, the Chief Legal Officer of S&P Global Platts, and I’m based in London.

Nathan Hunt: We're going to talk about race, we're going to talk about finance, we're going to talk about what would need to change to make the meritocracy of finance a little more meritocratic. Yasmine, I want to talk about the report 'Accelerating Black Inclusion', but I also want to talk about the sense of urgency you and your team had around this topic. In May of 2020, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. That murder happened in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Your organization is based in London. Why was the death of George Floyd, a catalyst for your team to look at improving the progression of Black colleagues in financial services?

Yasmine Chinwala: So, we've been thinking for a while about what can we do in terms of a piece of research around race and ethnicity. And I think I very much fall into the trap that a lot of organizations are in, which is there isn't good enough quality data. Therefore, we can't really do anything. I reflect on that as a mistake that I made falling into that same trap. I advocate very fiercely for that all companies should not fall into that trap. But just because this is something that happened in one part of the U.S., and yes, it was something that has happened before and may well happen again. The response was so global, the response was so far reaching, so wide reaching and we had, we had protests here in the UK. There were vigils, there were marches, there were protests that really did create a sense of urgency across the board of our government, across society and across companies of how do we respond to this?  What's the way forward? That was why I thought, right. I need to look at this again and work out how can we actually do a piece of research? And I think the other thing that happened shortly after the murder of George Floyd was there were a lot of events going on a lot of virtual events because of COVID everybody's working virtually. Panel events and webinars being hosted around responses to the questions around race, which just have not been asked really in public forums in the UK, certainly not in the workplace and watching some of these webinars, seeing some of these panelists and seeing how they were talking about their experiences, they were reliving some of the worst moments in their lives, where they were made to feel so small or utterly humiliated and it was really harrowing. It was harrowing to watch, to hear, but it was clearly so, so painful for them to be sharing this experience. I thought, well, we've got to capture this. We can't keep asking this same small group to tell their stories time and time again. We've got to capture this, and we've got to capture the sense of urgency to act that we went through in the second half of 2020, so that we can record it for history really.

Nathan Hunt: Yasmine, it's fascinating to me that you talk about a data trap. At S&P Global there is a diversity research lab, which is actually dedicated to trying to solve that issue within our own data. Why do you think there isn't that data on Black people's experience within financial services?

Yasmine Chinwala: So, I think that in financial services, it's a data led industry, of course. That's not complicated it's to be expected and I think that what we have seen certainly in the UK and probably in EMEA, the diversity focus has very much been around female representation and bringing more women into senior leadership roles. We have now got to a stage with that data on female representation where it's really, really, really sharp. It's very good quality. We have really good quality life cycle data so we can see career life cycle. And I think there's an expectation that is what we need in order to move anything around the agenda around Black inclusion. But we aren't there yet. We don't have that same level of data. Any other data point apart from agents, sex requires some level of self-reporting some kind of identification process, and we just don't have that. Most companies, most organizations don't have that level of data in these areas. They haven't been having conversations with their staff to try and really create a sense of comfort and a relationship with them around "please share your data with us because we're going to use it for these purposes and we're going to use it for a force for good for the organization" without that good quality data. There's a sense of, "oh, well, we can't do anything because we don't have the data. So, we can't really drive change. I don't see evidence without the data."

Pierre Davis: I think in the UK, as opposed to the U.S. And elsewhere in Europe as well there's a propensity to want to remain private and have your personal details and life remain private. There's a tension there between the self-identification that's absolutely necessary in order to make progress in this space and gain enough data and what we're seeing in the level of trust and other things that, that a lot of particularly Black people don't have in society or their companies. So that tension exists but I'm a huge proponent of saying that we need to work with the data that we have, we need to encourage self-identification, but we need to move forward. We need to move forward by taking when we don't have absolute perfect datasets companies like ours can extrapolate and we can figure out what the data suggests even if we don't have a hundred percent complete, et cetera. I think we have to stop thinking about data as a hindrance to this and just move forward based on what we already have.

Yasmine Chinwala: And it's more than a hindrance even, Pierre. There's, data become an excuse to not really act on this and we have to get beyond that and say, yes, data is an important part of trying to solve the problem. It shouldn't be a problem in itself, and it shouldn't become an insurmountable problem in itself. And that's where we have been pretty much stuck for quite a considerable amount of time. The focus is so much on the numbers. People forget that voices are data. And the individual experiences are evidence.

Nathan Hunt: Pierre, you are an American, a Black American living in London, working in financial services. Is it your sense that George Floyd's murder was a wakeup call even to your non-American colleagues?

Pierre Davis: Yes, absolutely. The murder of George Floyd was a wakeup call for several reasons. I mean, one, there was no getting around what it was. Everyone saw the videotape or heard about the videotape. It was an unarmed Black man being murdered by a police officer in broad daylight on video. There weren't any dark alleys. There were no cell phones mistaken for guns. There weren't any of those things that we sometimes hear about to try to justify a homicide of a Black man. It was clear as day what had happened. That resonated around the world. And I think Yasmine has pointed to some of those. We saw the ignition of protests worldwide, including in London that resonated with the Black British community police don't kill Black people in the street as often in the UK, as they do in the U.S. But they don’t generally carry weapons and it's not as violent of a society, but there still are a lot of problems with racist police and, uh, institutional racism in the UK. And so, I think it it's stoked those embers in the UK as well. And amongst the Black community gear in a very similar way, frankly, and in some ways it triggered conversations about race, about institutional racism, about systemic racism that hadn't occurred at all in the UK in the past, whereas in the U.S. those conversations have been there, but they've been conducted in sort of fits and starts or when we see an incident like Rodney King, or we see the innumerable instances of violence by the police and others against Black people. They've ebbed and flowed, but the George Floyd one was that catalyst, because I think it was just so stark and so real for everyone

Nathan Hunt: Pierre, one of the things that has surprised me so much about the reaction, the global reaction to the murder of George Floyd is that people went beyond just talking about police violence against Black people in the United States. What surprises me is it has led to introspection about institutional racism in financial services, in a different country. Were you surprised to see the conversation, take that turn?

Pierre Davis: Yes, it was unexpected. I mean, if we put ourselves back to May of last year, It was unexpected, both in how I think millions of other Black people would react that it would hit such a deep nerve and really bring forward emotions that we all had deep inside, but brought us to a position where we wanted to express those in places where we hadn't; in the workplace and including in financial services workplaces, so that I think triggered, I think it was led by the Black community and including me, frankly, where we started to have those conversations and I thought people really need to understand how Black people feel when this happens time and time again. And I think that led to an awakening, a reckoning where everyone in society said, what is wrong? Why can't we get this right? Why is this happening again and again? What's wrong with society? And that led to a lot of reflection on the more deep-seated problems, the inequality in society, in corporations, et cetera, which really is the only way that we're going to solve this. Police reform is necessary, but not sufficient. You're never going to get to a place where you have equality in society, unless part of your equity conversation is about how to bring people forward and up in all aspects of life.

Nathan Hunt: Yasmine, in the United States discussions about the existence of institutional racism tend to be politically fraught. You did your research, talking to people at financial services firms, how much awareness was there of racism and its impact on our Black colleagues? Did you get many people telling you we don't have any issues with racism here?

Yasmine Chinwala: So, the research was focused very much on Black colleagues’ experiences. Even amongst that group, there were a tiny handful. There were a few of the Black professionals that I interviewed that said they had personally not experienced racism, but everyone accepted that there was racism in the workplace because there's racism in society. I find this discussion that we, yes, racism exists in society, but it doesn't exist in the workplace because we leave that the door. That's just completely an absurd way to look at it because we can't leave society at the door. It's drawing out those connections and that understanding of actually why that is a complete false viewpoint is really, really important. And again, that's something that came out through all these discussions that were happening in June, July time of 2020 in the aftermath of George Floyd's death. There was a lot of public discussion around "well, how does racism manifest in the workplace?" What does institutional racism actually mean for me as I go to work?  I think that that kind of discussion just had not been had before, as Pierre has just touched on in the UK, the discussion around race and ethnicity has always been such a nervous, such a tentative one, that it just hasn't happened or where it has happened, it's just been in tiny little pockets. The murder of George Floyd has really shot the Black inclusion agenda to the top. And those discussions that were non-existent. Move from being between groups of Black people to actually being with white colleagues as well. It's moved from that very personal sphere to a professional sphere. So, conversations that people were having just at home with their friends, they're having them at work. And the discussion really is moving from taboo to omnipresent. That happened really, really rapidly. And then what that meant was that the professionals that we spoke to, they themselves moved from being low to super high visibility in their organizations. They were being asked to talk about their experiences.

Pierre Davis: I would just add to that, that it was not even necessarily a conversation that was happening amongst Black professionals in the UK. I mean, I remember when I first arrived six years ago. I was thinking about starting with another colleague who had sort of inspired me to think about starting an EMEA chapter of our Bolt ERG based in London, but for EMEA. And I asked around and started to talk to see if Black colleagues would be interested. And I remember distinctly one colleague saying, well, "you know, we don't have the kinds of issues and racism that you have in the U.S. here in the UK. It's not an issue in the corporate world, et cetera. And I said, well, okay, how many Black CEOs do you have in the city of London? And the person said, well, I think one, by the way, it's now none. And I said, well, you've got a problem then you're just not recognizing it as one. You know, the George Floyd murder, even amongst the Black community in London, was an impetus to start having this conversation. And, you know, for better or worse, as Yasmine said, there was a lot of responsibility, I guess, placed on Black professionals around London, but at the same time, that is really necessary in order to start the dialogue and to keep it going in a meaningful way. It wasn't a conversation that happened in the same way at all, as far as I could tell as it's happening now.

Nathan Hunt: To that point to the idea that this has been sort of a taboo discussion. In March shortly before your report came out, Yasmin, there was another report that came out of a UK government commission on race and ethnic disparities. Their report is quite long, but among other things, it does seem to suggest that institutional structural racism is no longer a problem in the United Kingdom. I'm curious. For both of you, does that fit what you saw through the research and what you've seen in your own lives

Yasmine Chinwala: In short, no. That report that came out, it's been quite widely criticized and discuss without going into sort of a line by line of different ways of interpreting it. I think the sort of headline thought for me is, it's not really what any other data really bears out or any other research in this area and particularly the government's own research in this area. So, there are multiple very recent reviews that the government has commissioned that have absolutely identified and discussed different areas of institutional racism. And I would point to on the day that we published in accelerating Black inclusion, which was April the 22nd, In the UK that morning. I hadn't realized when I set the date of April 22nd for our launch, but it was actually Stephen Lawrence day. Stephen Lawrence was a Black teenager who was murdered by a gang of white youths on the streets of south London one was waiting for a bus, literally just standing at a bus stop. And that was a really pivotal moment back in the nineties.  So, it was the anniversary of his death. It was also the day that there were two different reports, one published by the Commonwealth Walgreens commission, looking at racism in how African soldiers had been treated by the way war graves commission. And also, there was another piece looking at institutional racism in the church of England. So again, it just turns me back to that point that we already discussed that if racism exists in society, it doesn't have boundaries. It's not discreet, it's fluid and it exists in all spheres.

Pierre Davis: I have no time for the Soar report, and I've said that many times I will join in the course of deep criticism of the report. I think it was pandering at its finest. People want to hear a certain conclusion and that's exactly what they got through that report in the government. And I think that's really unfortunate and disappointing. I think a lot of people are recognizing what it was. I mean to, to whitewash, to use a term, Britain's involvement in the slave trade or the fact that we don't need the types of training on unconscious bias and other things that are so plainly needed. The fact that, as I mentioned, the example, how few senior Black professionals there are in the city of London, the data itself, the empirical data just screams out at you that report was trying to satisfy the people who commissioned it. I think it's been widely enough criticized that I don't need to weather on about it, but I would just say if that's the only report you've read about the existence of racism in the UK, read more, inform your own judgments.

Nathan Hunt: Pierre, one of the things I found most engaging in the report by New Financial on accelerating Black inclusion were quotes that were included in and alongside the text from Black people, working in financial services about their own experiences. I want to read one example to you, and it says, and I quote. "I had to confront how many times I had made excuses for things that were said to me, done to me, how I was excused, eliminated, not included on my path to becoming more successful." Did you find these types of quotes, reflective of your experience working in financial services in London?

Pierre Davis: Yes. I mean, I found them reflective of my experiences in life. Every Black person needs to compartmentalize and think about how to address what at some point in their life has been an inappropriate comment of being cast in the wrong light and having additional burdens placed on you to meet or to achieve the same amount of success. I mean, I think this isn't unique to Black folks, right? I mean, other immigrant stories are the same, but I think most Black people have had two things happen to them. One is they've had someone, a parent or another mentor tell them that they're going to have to work twice as hard to get to the same place. I think that's a very common thread and I think certainly was said to me and something, I think about a lot. And the second thing is I think most people in a professional environment, including in financial services in London, I've had remarks made to them or had another experience where something was pretty inappropriate and said, even if it wasn't explicitly racist, but something that really didn't sit well on that you've had to swallow or, or just let go, or decide how to react to. I think that is very common. That quote that you read resonates with me, but the experience resonates with me very broadly. And it's not just at any particular company or in any particular industry. I think Black people who are working through the ranks in a professional environment always have to deal with that and confront things that were done to them and figure out how to react to them and I remember briefly, my late father told me, you know, he said, well, "you know, you're working in this corporate environment. But just remember I have a house that's completely paid for you and your family can come and live here. You don't have to pay. You'll always have a home with me, but never let them mess with your dignity." I'm going to carry that through the rest of my life. But I think that's probably how I'd sum that point up, which is you figure out where the boundary is and don't let anyone mess with your dignity.

Nathan Hunt: Yasmine, as you were working through the data to prepare this report, what did you see racism in financial services looking like what was the form it took?

Yasmine Chinwala: I think the key takeaway for me from the interviews really was the need to improve understanding of what constitutes racism. Because I think that there's really a focus and perhaps this speaks as well to the government review that you mentioned Nathan, that what people think of as racism, people who are not Black, it's the very aggressive, violent end of racism. Really explicit racial comments, racial aspects, it's violent. That's what people say, "well, I've never done any such thing. I haven't got a racist bone in my body." That kind of expression you would hear. But actually, how it manifests in the workplace is it's around a much more casual sense of racism. And we discussed in the research of what I refer to as a continuum of racism. So, at one end, we've got that really egregious clear racism, but at the other, it's the very, very, it's much more subtle and it's much more common. But what this has is the cumulative effect of creating a hostile working environment and it creates and perpetuates a workplace where Black colleagues struggle to thrive, and I can give you some specific examples. For example, having somebody say, oh, "you weren't what I was expecting. You didn't sound Black on the phone." Being mistaken for security or catering or maintenance, a conversation being addressed to a more junior white colleague. That's the kind of more subtle racism and how it manifests in the workplace. Being stared at, for example, because there's so few Black colleagues in the office or being repeatedly confused for another Black colleague, because there's only two. So those are some examples of the more everyday racism that the interview is talked about in our research.

Nathan Hunt: Pierre, one of the things that rang true for me in the report, is that the burden of issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion tend to fall disproportionately on our Black colleagues. They are saddled with the additional work of explaining racism to white people. So as a Black man, do you frequently feel called upon in the workplace to speak as a Black man rather than just as Pierre?

Pierre Davis: Every action I take or word I utter is as a Black man, not just Pierre. I think that's the way society has decided to treat different citizens. I do think Black people have been called upon in the workplace to speak and speak from the Black perspective and take on the burden of kind of speaking for all Black people, if you will. I take that burden on voluntarily. I think this is the time to continue to have those conversations. I don't try to do it from a, the same perspective as other people. If we talk about racism and how racism works, right? I'll let people like Abraham Kennedy and Jane Elliott do that. I tried to do it in a different way, which is to instill some modicum of empathy. And I started last year, I wrote a little blog post about Black art and literature and music to the extent that we can humanize the Black experience for people, my own experiences and those of my colleagues, I think that's really the start of allowing not just to stop killing Black people on the street, but to really allow people to see the people behind the race and to humanize all of us, me, you know, I can speak as a Black man, but I want to eventually get to the place that you're talking about, which is people just looking me as Pierre and I'm good at what I do. I have good perspectives on things, but I don't think we're there yet. And so, I do take on that burden of speaking about the Black experience, but it's a means to an end, from my perspective.

Yasmine Chinwala: This is something that we actually explicitly asked the interview about was how do you engage with the Black inclusion agenda at work? And how has that changed since the murder of George Floyd? And there was enormous pressure, enormous pressure to be part of the conversation. Some felt they had no choice, but to participate. All our interviewees were asked to speak at listening sessions at panel events, and many of them ended up front and center of company conversations around race. Yes, absolutely, just as Pierre, they were willing to do it, they felt obligated morally to do it, they wanted to do it, but it became a second job. It was a really big burden. It was a big piece of work that they were being asked to do. And there's a tension there between grasping the opportunity of building profile, building profile with senior management, in making a change in something that you feel passionately about, but it's juggling that huge workload, and many did feel inspired and empowered to speak up and to speak more freely. But there is that tension there around, okay, how will this work that I'm doing? How is it going to be rewarded? How is it going to be balanced against the other work that I do? And what is the end point of my doing this inclusion work?

Nathan Hunt: Yasmine reading the report, clearly one of the biggest issues to solve is progression and promotion. There just aren't enough Black people in upper or middle management considering the number of Black people in the population. Statistically, it makes no sense. What does your research tell you is holding Black people back?

Yasmine Chinwala: So, something we sought to do through the research process was to talk about the career trajectories of the interviewees, to be able to understand what barriers they had faced so that we could try and unpack a little around for what would potential actions look like. I think that the core of a lot of the everyday racism as they talk about, and the stereotypes that manifests is it really changing the behavior of Black colleagues and the amount of work that takes. The sort of big three takeaways around barriers to me were: having to be perfect in something Pierre's already touched on around. Well, having been told by mentors that you're going to have to work twice as hard to get to the top. This idea of having to be perfect all the interviewees said, they felt that need to be perfect to be twice as good and there wasn't any room for error. Also, a perception of risk attached to being Black and therefore a perception of risk being attached to being a senior manager who was going to support a Black colleague’s progression. The second big area was not knowing the unwritten rules. So, this, again, this is something that is across all strands of diversity, all areas of diversity. It's learning the rules of the game. So, without a toolkit, without the network to turn to progression slows while people fill in the gaps for themselves. And I think thirdly, and what makes this so unique within the financial services context is the culture of the financial services industry. And that's, what's unique about this research. What we really pull out through the research is we know in financial services, it's all about the bottom line. Performance is paramount the client is king. There's no time for anything else. So, this approach, what does that mean? It means that we have this real inertia. There's a real defaulting to shortcuts. For example, "I'm going to hire a friend of a friend because I can trust them, and I need to fill this slot quickly." There's that time-saving element, which really perpetuates this old-fashioned narrow view of, "who can be a successful leader?" And that's not a Black person at the moment because we don't really have a call of that people who are incredibly successful at the top of their game in the UK as role models. I've just sort of whizzed you through what I think are really the core barriers around progression issues.

Nathan Hunt: In both the United Kingdom and the United States, there are for lack of a better word "insiders." These are the people who went to the right university and have the right friends, they know how to fold a pocket square, and how to eat raw oysters. All of these rules are unwritten, and you've just talked about unwritten rules. The people that are in that club seem to have little incentive to invite others in. How can we solve for this? How do you allow for talent that didn't go to Oxbridge or Wharton to flourish in an organization? How do we get around hiring the friend of a friend?

Yasmine Chinwala: That's the big question. That's the biggest question. And it's across all aspects of diversity and inclusion. Do we as a society, want to continue as we have been? Do we want to include more people and move towards what would be a much more genuine, real meritocracy? Because what we have right now is not. And if financial services people can themselves a lot that, oh, because performance is king, you could have three heads, four legs, be blue, as long as you can deliver performance, you'll succeed. But that's not what happens and that's not what we see in organizations through the research. There's sort of five key areas that we identify, and I'll whiz through them super quickly. So firstly, you touched on this is data really trying to get to grips with data, accepting the flaws of the data, but really moving ahead and trying to set goals around what data should look like. Secondly, sponsorship. We know that from all the interviews, the, everybody talks about the value of sponsors and having a really good relationship with a sponsor and how that can really elevate somebody's career. So, it's true. Really try and get at an organizational level, try to recreate what are otherwise very organic relationships between individuals and understanding that doesn't happen for Black colleagues in most cases. Thirdly as role models. So, it's seeking out recognizing, supporting, raising the profile of Black role models, because there are so few of them and as I already mentioned, there's this huge amount of workload attached to the diversity inclusion agenda. Number four is really confident conversations on race. So, we've already touched on this as well in the UK, this has not been a very open discussion, it's not been a frequent discussion, it's not a common discussion, but it's really trying to continue the discussions that we've been having and improve the quality of those discussions. Bring more people into those discussions and having them led by the dominant group. The fifth one and these aren't really in a particular running order, I suppose, because they all work together, and they all cross-fertilize. But the fifth one is this notion of transparency on career progression, because the more transparent we can be about this is what you need to do in order to get to the next level. Then that works, but everyone that works in everyone's favor and not just your office, Wharton graduates who can shotgun oyster at home, or can know which wine to choose with dinner in which cutlery to use for a full course meal. That's really that understanding of what do I need to do in order to get to the next level and then also for the organization to say, "what are the skills that we value when we promote, when we hire? Rather than it being a focus of where have you come from, what do you look like? How do you sound. It's really that shift, which is going to take time, but it's hopefully through conversations like this, where we can keep pushing back that these discussions around all meritocracy, but that means we're not going to have meritocratic promotion. We don't have meritocratic promotion right now. So, we need to move towards there.

Pierre Davis: I would challenge a whole lot of the question and maybe even a little bit of the answer there to say, the baseline assumption of that question is how do we get past the idea that we want to look for talent that didn't go to Oxbridge or Wharton, et cetera? My first answer to that is what about the talent that is there, that you're not tapping the African student union at Cambridge and the Black student’s association at all of the business schools in the U.S. Are we trying hard enough or is that an excuse? And then second, I think the idea then immediately turns to, we have to lower our standard to go to different universities in order to get people through the door. That's really patronizing, and you can find stars in great talent out there in a diversity of you know, educational institutions in situations. But they're not lesser talent. There's no lowering of the bar. You just haven't done it right. And I think not enough people look at themselves in the mirror when they're looking out trying to find talent and then third piece, which she hasn't been touched on. The shortcuts are there, for sure. But it's deeper than that, right? It's talking about really what it is. Is it that makes you feel comfortable with someone? And I remember I had a mentor at one point in my career who was partner at law firm where I worked. And he said. "You don't live in the city, same neighborhood, you don't belong to the same golf club, you don't go to the weddings and all of the other cell life celebrations, et cetera. You're not in that clique." And that is really important. But at the same time, it's not, it's not the fact that I don't know how to fold a pocket square or, you know, shuck an oyster I, and many other Black people know how to do that. It's deeper than that. And I think until people fundamentally realize that you're not taking shortcuts, or you're not just doing things to bring people in the door, or was a friend of a friend, you're xenophobic. And until you realize that you're xenophobic and you try to come that xenophobia by trying to figure out a little bit more and gain a little empathy and try to understand the world a little bit better, we're really not going to get anywhere. And so, yeah, that's an ideal world because it takes a lot for people to be that self-reflective, I think it's really necessary. The talent is out there. We're just not looking for it. And I agree that, you know, the numbers, aren't where they need to be certainly amongst senior leadership, but there are stars out there just waiting to be discovered and we need to take the discovery of those stars sort of more seriously, and not allow ourselves as a society or as professionals to take those shortcuts or to ignore that that's the case.

Nathan Hunt: Pierre, I'd like to ask you one final question and then I'll put the same question to Yasmine, which is, when you look at financial services today, when you think about the racism that you know exists, when you think about the xenophobia that leads people to ignore the talent that is out there, the talent that is available to them under this supposed meritocracy, when you look at all of that, are you an optimist or a pessimist about the direction things are going?

Pierre Davis: I'm a cautious optimist, I guess. Look, I think as things have unfolded in the U.S. And elsewhere over the last several hundred years, I think anyone would be foolish to think change is anything other than incremental. And so, when I see the history of Black people in the U.S., including my own ancestors who were enslaved in Mississippi, I think, "well, we've come a good way from my ancestors being enslaved in Mississippi." And then I think, well, as recently as my father growing up, he grew up in segregated, Kansas City, Kansas, and wasn't allowed to drink at the same water fountain as a white person and went to the University of Kansas and dealt with effective segregation. And we saw through that a year in the civil rights here, we saw the schools become desegregated, we saw society start to become that much more equal, we still have issues with voting even today, but it's better than it was. And then I see now today, post-George Floyd, I see a different conversation happening where I do have hope and that not only will we have a real moment where we start to see comprehensive police reform and Black people being killed in the street less often by police, which is still happening as we all know, at a pretty significant clip. But we see a broader effort in society to understand one another better and to also recognize excellence where we see it, including in the Black community. I think we've made an incremental step where we have the ability to make an incremental step. I'm not so blindly optimistic that I would think that all of a sudden, everybody got woke and society's magically going to be completely equal tomorrow. It's just another step along the incremental journey that we've all been on for, for hundreds of years now,

Nathan Hunt: Yasmine, thinking about the research and your own experiences, are you an optimist or a pessimist when it comes to Black inclusion in financial services?

Yasmine Chinwala: I think I have to say that I'm an optimist, otherwise I wouldn't do the job that I do. My job is really to try and put together research and look at things, analyze why we have these issues, and my focus is very much on financial services. I think we have got reason to be hopeful within a financial services’ specific perspective in the UK. Certainly, there are lots of moves from government regulators, policymakers, investors clients, customers, employees, society, the whole stakeholder context around diversity inclusion has changed. And that absolutely includes Black inclusion and the progression of Black colleagues into more senior roles. So, I do think there is reason to be hopeful, but at the same time, I'm not naive about that, I hope, and I'm very aware of the amount of work that needs to be done in order to, at the very least maintain this on the agenda as well as to actually resource the work that needs to be done. But yes, I'm hopeful that things are moving in the right direction, and we are starring interviewees "what does success look like for the backing occasion agenda?" And really what it boils down to the ultimate litmus test is all we going to be having the same conversation in five years’ time. So, Nathan let's pick this up in 2026.

Nathan Hunt: Yasmine, Pierre. I want to thank you both for what has been a fascinating and challenging discussion. It has been such a pleasure to talk to both of you.

Yasmine Chinwala: Thank you for having me.

Pierre Davis: Thank you, Nathan. I appreciate it.

Nathan Hunt: The Essential Podcast is produced by Molly Mintz with assistance from Kurt Burger and Lundon Lafci. At S&P Global, we accelerate progress in the markets by providing intelligence that is essential for companies, governments, and individuals to make decisions with conviction. I am Nathan Hunt, thank you for listening.

The Essential Podcast is edited and produced by Molly Mintz.