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Mark Carney: Bank of England can prove it's not an 'ivory tower' with diversity push

Alanna Petroff
Senior Economics Correspondent at Yahoo Finance UK
Bank of England governor Mark Carney. Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/Getty Images

The Bank of England signed up to a new diversity commitment on Thursday in a bid to prove that it’s not an “ivory tower” dominated by white men.

“A public institution should reflect the public it serves,” Bank of England governor Mark Carney said, according to his prepared remarks.

“Better reflecting the diversity of the people we serve can reduce misperceptions that we are experts making esoteric decisions in an ivory tower for the benefit of others,” he said.

Carney’s comments came just one week after the central bank provided an update showing only 5% of senior management within the Bank of England are black, Asian, and ethnic minorities, though the bank has a target of 13% by 2022.

Carney admitted on Thursday that the central bank hasn’t had a good track record in past generations.

“I’m the 120th in a very long line of male, white governors of the Bank,” he said, adding that it was only in the 1990s that a female and a black male were first included within the upper echelons of the organisation.

As part of a diversity drive that’s been running for the past five years, the central bank committed on Thursday to take more action to support the career progression of ethnic minorities and appoint an “executive sponsor” that would oversee race issues.

The central bank already has a policy of only using anonymous CVs for internal and external recruitment in a bid to improve its diversity and cut down on bias among hiring managers.

READ MORE: Why the Bank of England’s work culture is a ‘glimpse into the past’

Diversity numbers within the lower ranks of the Bank of England are better than they are at the top.

Nearly 19% of the bank’s staff are from minority groups, up from 13% in 2013, excluding the top-level jobs. This is nearly in line with the central bank’s target of 20% by next year.

The bank has also ramped up recruitment of minorities in its latest round of graduate hires, with 39% of job offers going to blacks, Asians, and other visible minorities.

“To pursue its mission, [the] Bank of England must reflect the diversity of the people it serves,” Carney said.

The employment rate among the white population in the UK remains persistently higher than other groups. About 80% of working-aged white people are employed, compared with just 65% of people from all other ethnic groups, according to a recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There were nearly 40 million workers in total across England, Wales, and Scotland in 2017, according to the latest ONS data. About 15% of these workers were from ethnic groups.