U.S. man who wrote report alleging racism at HSBC resigns

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U.S. man who wrote report alleging racism at HSBC resigns

LONDON - The author of a report alleging internal racism inside HSBC has resigned, citing frustration at its response to some of his criticisms and a lack of support from white colleagues, two Reuters information emails show.

Ian Clarke, a salesman in the U.S., was once a man in the Army. Global Liquidity and Cash Management division in New York announced a resignation on Tuesday in an email sent to about 1,000 manager and senior managers in HSBC's U.S. and British businesses and seen by Reuters.

HSBC's newly appointed global head of inclusion attempted to shock staff over his exit, the other shows.

Clarke said in response to HSBC's resignation that it was committed to improving diversity and inclusion.

When our colleagues raise concerns we take them seriously and are looking into the issues raised, said Reuters in a statement on Friday.

Clarke had sent a 48-page report that he called Project Speak Up in June to senior management at HSBC. This was launched on his own initiative and aimed at quantifying and combating the alleged discrimination he had heard about at the bank and felt from colleague.

Compiled over a year and based on Clarke's interviews with around 100 staff, it alleged a failure to retain or promote Black and other ethnic minority staff, a lack of such people in senior positions and insufficient policies to address these problems.

HSBC said that it took the report seriously and would implement many of its recommendations.

London-born Clarke, who describes himself as half Jamaican and half white British, said in his resignation letter to Chief Executive Noel Quinn he was pleased with some of the progress.

HSBC led by John Mayer put into effect 9 of his 12 recommendations, he said, including developing more support programmes for ethnic minority minorities and aiming to improve minority representation in key decision-making bodies.

Even more yet, I know of not a single white person in our firm of 226,000 who seized the momentum we have created together to come forward and speak up for what's right, Clarke said.

Clarke said in his resignation letter that he had received several reported discrimination by several black men who he refused to name over three years which all remain in their role, while five Black or darker skinned people have left his team with none added.

That was a microcosm of the failure to improve diversity at HSBC, he said.

Clarke was not able to immediately verify Reuters' assertions.

His resignation follows as banks face pressure to deliver on pledges to improve diversity after the murder of George Floyd by a U.S. police officer in 2020 sparked global protests.

We are fully committed to our philosophy of speaking up when they see something that is wrong. If we get reports of racist or discriminatory behaviour by HSBC we take action, HSBC said.

Clarke's global director of inclusion emailed the next day the around 1,000 recipients of Carolanne Minashi's resignation letter to reiterate HSBC's ambition to 'work at an accelerated pace' to improve diversity.

Many of you will know that Minashi had been in discussions with me and my team, HR and members of senior leadership over the past months, Ian wrote in the email seen by Reuters, which did not address the substance of his allegations.

The bank appreciated his commitment to improving HSBC and said the best, she said.

The biggest Bank of Europe said in July 2020 that it aimed to double the number of Black staff in senior positions by 2025, a target that Clarke's report said did not go far enough given a low base.

Black employees at the Bank told internal meetings that they felt uninspired for career opportunities and overlooked by the lack of senior role models, Quinn said in a memo to all staff seen by Reuters in July 2020.

The memo was the result of meetings with Black HSBC staff following the spotlight on systemic racism in the United States and worldwide following Floyd's murder in May that year.

We are committed to achieving this target and I see no need to restate it, executive Clarke said on Monday, before Quinn quit when asked by Reuters about progress towards the goals.

Among its senior staff, 2.4% have self-identified as Black, but among British leaders this falls to 0.9%, HSBC told Reuters in February.