Pay gap for Black workers widens at some of UK’s biggest banks

(Bloomberg) —

The UK’s biggest banks haven’t made progress around boosting the relative pay of Black workers at their firms, three years after the Black Lives Matter movement prompted the finance industry to unleash a wave of pledges to improve diversity and inclusion.

HSBC Holdings Plc, Santander UK and Barclays Plc all saw the median pay gaps for Black staff increase slightly from the year before, according to their 2022 reports. At Lloyds Banking Group Plc the gap dropped from a year previously, but by just 0.6%. NatWest, which didn’t break out a pay gap for Black employees in its previous reports, reported a median gap for Black staff of 20.5% in its latest filing.

For all of the largest banks which provided the data, Black employees face a bigger difference than for ethnic minorities overall. The companies mentioned in their pay gap reports that the disparities for Black employees reflected the fact they tended to be in more junior, lower-paying roles.  

A Lloyds spokesperson said the bank voluntarily discloses the data as it wants to be transparent and held accountable. A spokesperson for HSBC said the bank is on track  to double the number of Black employees in senior leadership by 2025 but said the firm realizes there is still much work to be done in this area.

A Barclays spokesperson declined to comment beyond the report. Spokespeople for NatWest and Santander UK didn’t immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

Almost three years ago, in the aftershock of George Floyd’s murder, UK businesses, including banks, renewed pledges to level the playing field for ethnic minorities. But the commitments have translated into little progress, particularly when it comes to Black employees. Among those banks which disclose the data, the proportion of Black people who make up the highest paid quartile of employees average about 2%. 

Non-White people make up 18.3% of the population in England and Wales, according to census data from 2021; 4% are Black. In London, where most of the banks are headquartered, 14% of the population identify as Black. 

Meanwhile, ethnic minorities continue to face discrimination across financial services, according to a study at the end of 2022. The survey showed the majority of respondents had experienced unwelcome comments based on their background, while some also felt racial jokes were still tolerated in the workplace. 

To contact the author of this story:
Olivia Konotey-Ahulu in London at

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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