The Bar Council, the barristers profession’s representative body, has today become the latest organisation to give its backing to the Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions, an initiative aimed at increasing the number of talented Black professionals in senior positions in the financial and professional services sectors in the UK.
In supporting this important initiative, the Bar Council joins organisations such as the City of London Corporation, London First, the Inns of Court, The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, ICAS (the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland), Innovate Finance, Magic Circle law firms, Big Four accountancy giants, as well as barristers’ chambers Brick Court Chambers, 4 Pump Court, 3 Verulam Buildings and Matrix Chambers and the Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR).
The data shows that men and women of Black heritage are the most underrepresented ethnic group in the financial and professional services sectors and at senior levels, and that the position has not improved in years. The Charter aims to shift the dial through committed, meaningful action rather than aspirational statements, however sincere. In the barristers’ profession, one of its main aims is to drive the recruitment and progression of Black talent at the commercial, Chancery, technical and other civil areas of practice at the privately-funded Bar.
The Charter is the brainchild of barrister Harry Matovu QC, who has been working in partnership with Michael Eboda, CEO of Powerful Media Ltd, to extend its reach.
Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said: “The Charter for Black Talent in Finance and the Professions will play an essential role in addressing the need for the commercial, Chancery and other Bars, which work closely with the business and financial services sectors, to pave the way for Black professionals to progress into more senior positions in their areas of practice. This is vital for the diversity of the profession and it will expand the breadth of experience available to clients operating in evolving and globalised markets. The recognition of talented Black professionals and their promotion to positions of leadership in business and the professions is long overdue, and the fact that the Charter has the support of other sectors gives this initiative real weight. The Bar Council is proud to support it.”
Harry Matovu QC, said: “I am delighted that the Bar Council, my own representative body, is joining the four Inns of Court and several Chambers in supporting the Charter, and I hope that all chambers and other organisations employing barristers in the commercial world will follow their lead. The support of the Bar Council could not come at a more important time. It seems curious that the Sewell Report should boast about ‘the onward march of minorities into positions of power and responsibility in professions such as the law and medicine’, when that is not a picture of our profession that most of us at the Bar would recognise, particularly given the statistics for Black barristers in the highest-earning areas of practice at the Bar.
“Equality of opportunity is fundamental to any true meritocracy, and as we begin to emerge from the events of the last year, the Bar must hold itself to the highest of standards in this area, whatever position others may take. The Charter for Black Talent is not another tick-box exercise. Many senior executives and partners in the financial and professional services sectors have confirmed that it has the ability to drive real and lasting change in the recruitment and progression of talented Black professionals to senior grades. So I hope the Bar will unanimously support the Charter. If not now, when?”
More information on the work of the Bar Council’s Race Working Group.