Barclays Race at Work Action Plan: One year on

A year on from the launch of the Barclays Race at Work Action Plan, C.S. Venkatakrishnan, Barclays Executive Sponsor of the Multicultural agenda, outlines progress against it and what the next steps are for colleagues, customers and clients, and communities.

“It is a year today since we introduced our Race at Work Action Plan, as part of our commitment to the Race at Work agenda. This milestone is an important one for Barclays and I would like to use this anniversary to provide an update on the progress we are making in driving sustainable change for colleagues, customers and clients, and communities where we live and work.
Driving change for colleagues

Through the Race at Work Action Plan, we are focusing our efforts across four areas: increasing the number of under-represented minority employees we hire; providing more Black and ethnically diverse colleagues with access to career and development opportunities; creating a culture of allyship across the organisation; and being transparent about our Race at Work Ambitions and the outcomes we are trying to achieve. Take a look at our progress so far. (PDF 524KB)

Race at Work Action Plan: One year on

Through the Race at Work Action Plan Barclays is focusing its efforts across four areas:

  • Increasing the number of under-represented minority employees it hires
  • Providing more Black and ethnically diverse colleagues with access to career and development opportunities
  • Creating a culture of allyship across the organisation
  • Being transparent about its Race at Work Ambitions and the outcomes the bank is trying to achieve

Read the full update on progress over the last year (PDF 552KB)


In July this year we introduced new Race at Work Ambitions to close the gaps in the UK and US where some ethnicities are significantly under-represented at Barclays.

Strengthening our relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is a critical component of our plan. One example is the work we are doing with Delaware State University, a leader in the HBCU community. HBCUs are not only a talent pool for Barclays, but they are on the forefront of creating solutions for societal inequity.

Momentum, a new career development and sponsorship programme for ethnically diverse Directors in the UK and US, kicks off this month. And once again, Barclays is sponsoring STRETCH 2021, a leading conference dedicated to the career progression of Black and ethnically diverse talent. It attracts thousands of attendees and colleagues globally have been invited to join.

Driving change with customers and clients, and championing business owner diversity

I am proud that we are working with clients on initiatives to drive social change. Examples include our partnership with the National Football League (NFL) where we supported the League’s “Inspire Change” social justice initiative through card member offers and events. And our recent partnership with global technology giant Cisco, to deliver an Industry Immersion Series for high-potential students in under-served communities in New York. Conversations are now underway with more clients both in the UK and the US about partnering on similar initiatives.

We are also investing to boost diversity in entrepreneurship. We have just launched our second Black Founder Accelerator programme in the UK, and in the US we have invested US$1m in the Stand By Me Minority Small Business programme, in partnership with the State of Delaware. Our Female Innovators Lab also invested US$1m in seed funding to neobank First Boulevard which aims to provide innovative banking services for Black communities in the US. I am also looking forward to the 2021 Black British Business Awards ceremony which takes place later today and where Barclays is sponsoring the 'Entrepreneur – Senior Leader' category. Later this month we will also sponsor Black Women Business Talks as part of UK Black Business Week.

When looking at how Barclays uses its wallet to buy goods and services, there is a considerable role we play in supporting Black entrepreneurship. This year Barclays hosted a two-part Global Supplier Diversity and Inclusion Showcase Series designed to profile some of our top Black-owned suppliers, increase spend with diverse suppliers, as well as support small and local suppliers to navigate corporate supply chains. And today I am pleased to announce that we are setting an ambition to double Barclays’ spend with Black businesses by 2025.

Enhancing our support for communities

Barclays has a long history of supporting citizenship programmes dedicated to promoting social equity in our communities. This year we have been working to enhance that support through our existing partnerships, including those with Acumen America, Echoing Green, Per Scholas, the Robin Hood Foundation and Tech Impact.

We have been working with Tech Impact in the US to train Black and ethnically diverse students in technology and customer service skills. Last week, Denny Nealon, CEO of our US Consumer Bank, was joined by Governor of Delaware, John Carney, and US Senator to Delaware, Tom Carper, to launch the ‘Tech Impact Opportunity Center supported by Barclays’. This will serve as a permanent training facility for students across Delaware, alongside sites in Nevada and Pennsylvania.

With support from Barclays, Per Scholas, our employability partner, has reached thousands of Black and ethnically diverse people across the US in the past year, and has helped them launch careers in technology.

In the UK, we have created a new LifeSkills module on ‘Racial equality in the workplace’ for schools and colleges to use with their students and for young people to access directly online. And through Barclays’ £100m COVID-19 Community Aid Package, we have supported The Global Majority Fund alongside National Emergencies Trust and Comic Relief to help people from ethnically diverse communities in the UK most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Last week it was great to be part of a panel with our partner Acumen America at The Atlantic Festival, where we talked about bridging the racial wealth gap. And today Jes is hosting a virtual mentoring session with graduates from Barclays’ LifeSkills programme delivered with the Robin Hood Foundation in New York, as part of Make a Difference.

Building on our progress

As you can see from this update there is a huge amount of activity going on across Barclays. These are small steps on a long journey and it’s important that we maintain momentum so our efforts lead to sustainable change.”

C.S. Venkatakrishnan
Global Head of Markets, Co-President of BBPLC, and Executive Sponsor of the Multicultural agenda