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Today 71.4% of colleagues disclose their ethnicity, while this disclosure means our data is not as complete as we want, we’re clearly not where we want or need to be in terms of ethnic diversity. We’ve sought to understand why we’re in this position, and determine what to do about it.

As at 30 September 2021, 3.3% of our workforce is made up of colleagues from ethnically diverse backgrounds. If we break this down by seniority, we have 2.9% representation in our top quartile, 3.2% representation in our second quartile, 2.3% representation in our third quartile and 4.9% representation in our lowest quartile.

  1. The Financial Services industry has not done enough to attract ethnic minority talent – and we're no exception.

    Job advertising and recruitment approaches have failed to attract ethnic minority talent sufficiently.
  2. We have typically attracted talent in locations that are generally less diverse than parts of the UK.

    This is exacerbated by long-tenure of staff as it means that our colleague population doesn’t reflect changes in the communities within the last decade.
  3. Where we’ve been successful in starting to attract more diverse talent, it has tended to be at entry level positions.

    We continue to challenge ourselves to attract and retain diverse talent at all levels.

Our action plan

We want to address each of these drivers to create a bank that is more representative of the communities we serve.

  • A radical and bold approach to recruitment: we’ve introduced bold commitments for recruitment suppliers requiring them to include diverse candidates on all selection lists. We’re also challenging ourselves to do better by including a diversity questionnaire within the process to gain a better understanding of who we are attracting and where we need to improve.
  • Partnerships that make a difference: we’re working with King’s Talk, a charity which champions the Black community, to host workshops to equip prospective candidates with the skills to be successful in applying for jobs in the financial sector. This includes keeping attendees updated on internal opportunities at Virgin Money.
  • Support programmes built for modern society: we’ve built a career sponsorship programme specifically designed for ethnic minority talent to support career development. By providing tailored support, our aim is to encourage more internal mobility across the group.

Our new approach means that our workforce can work anywhere without the expectation that they will need to be based in a head office site. This means we will be able to tap into geographies and communities that we haven’t been able to before. This approach also offers much more flexibility around working patterns, meaning that colleagues should not have to compromise faith and religious practice to work for us.

We’ve reviewed our approach to succession across the bank. We’re making diversity a core part of this approach. We’ve set targets for every business unit to improve diversity at the senior leadership level. We know that having visible role models is important, so our short-term targets are focused on the top three layers of the Group.

Challenges ahead

One of our biggest actions is encouraging more early careers applicants from ethnic minority backgrounds. We see this as our best route to creating sustainable pipelines of diverse talent. However, we also know that if we increase our ethnic minority talent at entry levels it will, in the short to medium-term, increase our ethnicity pay gap.

If that happens we’ll be straight up about both the gap and the causes, because we firmly believe it is more important to create lasting changes rather than chase incremental targets.