BER21: The Contribution HSBC UK makes to the Midlands


This blog post was produced for inclusion in the Birmingham Economic Review for 2021.

The annual Birmingham Economic Review is produced by the University of Birmingham’s City-REDI and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. It is an in-depth exploration of the economy of England’s second city and a high-quality resource for informing research, policy and investment decisions.

This post is featured in Chapter 3 of the Birmingham Economic Review for 2021, on the city’s labour market and current and future challenges

Click here to read the Review.

 Connection to the Midlands

HSBC has been a longstanding member of the Midlands community from the initial acquisition of Midland Bank in 1992 to more recently opening HSBC UK’s Head Office in Birmingham in 2018. HSBC’s decision to return to our Midland roots was based on the dynamic and entrepreneurial setting Birmingham offers, showcasing an attractive home for businesses and people in the heart of the UK. HSBC UK is heavily invested in the area employing 3,500 people across its 80 branches and other offices throughout the Midlands region.

Diversity & Inclusion

At HSBC UK, we are deeply committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive organisation that represents the communities we serve. This involves taking action to ensure we are a workplace where people are valued, respected and supported. We know that the best way to do that is by bringing together diverse people, ideas and perspectives. As such, HSBC UK support 17 Employee Resource Groups covering a wide range of religious and special interest groups.  The purpose of ERGs is to connect people, across the Globe, providing them with a platform to have a voice about their shared, or unique, interests, passions and ambitions with a focus on diversity and inclusion within HSBC UK. They cover areas such as ethnicity, age, gender, LGBT+, faith, ability and more.

The Embrace Employee Resource Group, specifically geared towards racial diversity, was established to act as a voice for change and a place for people to connect, inspire and be inspired. Embrace’s mission is to create a more inclusive workplace that celebrates ethnic diversity. In the last 6 months, Embrace has welcomed 400 new members taking membership to over 2,300 colleagues for the first time in their history.

In conjunction with this, HSBC UK has introduced an Ethnicity Working Group within the Commercial Bank specifically focused on supporting ethnically diverse colleagues and driving wider cultural change. The Ethnicity Working Group has made strides over the last year introducing and driving countless initiatives aimed at cultivating a diverse and inclusive environment for all ethnic backgrounds.

Ethnicity Initiatives

Driving Career Paths

As part of this strategy, HSBC UK has launched programmes aimed at empowering colleagues of diverse heritage with the skills and confidence to accelerate their careers whilst supporting and driving cultural change. Two such programmes are the ‘Step Forward’ programme in Wealth and Personal Banking and the ‘Career Acceleration’ programme within Commercial Banking.  Both programmes provide professional coaching, group discussion and networking opportunities, equipping participants with the skills needed to accelerate their careers and transition to larger, more senior roles now and in the future.

Hiring Right

How we hire directly influences how diverse we are. Being inclusive means that we can benefit from the richness of different ideas, backgrounds, styles and perspectives. To ensure this goal is achieved, we are undertaking an end-to-end audit of our recruitment process with a focus on ethnicity. This has led to ‘Hiring and Selection: Getting it Right’ inclusion training for all hiring managers and a key partnership with ‘Rare’, leaders in diverse graduate recruitment to improve representation of candidates from under-represented groups.

Publishing Ethnicity Data

 HSBC has set out global ethnicity commitments to improve opportunities for Black, Asian and ethnic minority employees and boost the diversity of senior leadership. In order to show accountability and drive progress, in October 2020 HSBC shared our ethnicity data profile in the UK for the first time and will continue to update on this annually. We have also expanded the ethnicity categories for employee profiles, allowing more granular detail in our ethnic profile as an organisation.

Supporting our Communities

Recognising our responsibility to promote cultural change beyond HSBC UK, we have introduced some externally oriented initiatives in support of wider communities. HSBC UK has partnered with the Princes Trust providing a £350k investment for empowering entrepreneurs of black heritage to explore the possibility of self-employment. We have further introduced Finance Insight Days targeting schools across the UK with the highest population of BAME students. These days include showcasing HSBC colleagues from ethnically diverse backgrounds, panel discussions and educating on possible routes into HSBC. In October 2021, HSBC UK will also be partnering with the UK Black Business Show which aims to bring together the best Black businesses through exhibitions, workshops and seminars.

Suzy Verma
Head of Business Development
Corporate Banking Midlands Region