To quote the head of HR at another large firm, “my job is to protect the management from being sued by the staff”. This is not the easiest job in the whole world, and that is why this person can afford a really very nice home, which speaks to how much of an issue it is these days.
Several firms now send questionnaires directly to applicants, quizzing them on sex, race, etc. This is in an effort to check they are getting diverse applicants from agencies, and show they are trying hard to avoid discrimination.
When one bank gathered its recruiters to its HQ, this was met with a surprising degree of hostility, voices were raised. Apparently in some countries this information is used to weed out the “wrong” people; such discrimination not only being legal, but sometimes compulsory. The emails do not get a good response rate, whatever country they get sent to.
Although bankers are not very politically correct, greed is indeed good here. One manager jokily shared with me that a candidate belonged to a group of people so evil that right-thinking people would not only kill them but also make sure their bodies didn’t pollute the Earth. The candidate was offered £90,000 straight out of university, and a first year bonus of £30,000-£70,000, and to ease the pain of changing the tube station they had to use, got £3,500 “relocation expenses”. Not because the manager admired the candidate's rich cultural heritage, but because they would help him and his bank get richer.
Banking in London is an international sport. I go to meetings where I am the only person born in the UK, and have had to endure many comments about the failings of the arts-grad-dominated British education system. Greed is the enemy of bigotry when you need the best people, as the manager of any football club will tell you. If you don’t grab the best talent, the competition will hire them to use against you.
So, I’ve written this piece not because I know the answer, but because I want feedback on what advice I should give to the increasing number of people who want employers to know they are not Muslims. I don't have a clue what to tell those people who are.
For this I simply do not care if the reasons for hiring behaviour are good or bad, or whether my job is to encourage a more diverse society, since being in investment banking I am already a member of the most diverse community in the world. I want to give the sort of good honest advice you would want to get if you were trying to get a job in a dreadful market.
What would you say? ®