Posted on August 12, 2021

Banker behind Report Alleging HSBC Racism Resigns over Lack of Support

Lawrence White, Reuters, August 6, 2021

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

Ian Clarke, who was a salesman in the U.S. Global Liquidity and Cash Management division in New York, resigned on August 3 in an email sent to around 1,000 staff and senior managers in HSBC’s U.S. and British businesses, and seen by Reuters.


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


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


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 has wholly or partly implemented 9 of his 12 recommendations, he said, including creating better support programmes for ethnic minorities and aiming to improve minority representation on key decision-making bodies.

“And yet regardless, I’m aware 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 themselves for what’s right,” Clarke said.

Clarke said in his resignation letter he had reported alleged discrimination by several white men whom he declined to name over three years who all remain in their roles, while five Black or darker skinned people had left his team with none added.

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


Europe’s biggest bank said in July 2020 it aimed to double the number of Black staff in senior roles by 2025, a goal that Clarke’s report said did not go far enough given a low base.


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