State Street executives back BAME initiative to spotlight ethnic minority experience in the workplace

Custodian says “being silent is not an option anymore” and adds weight behind initiative to support positive dialogue on race in the workplace across industries.

By Jonathan Watkins

A new initiative aimed at spotlighting the journeys of successful ethnic minority professionals has been set up by one of State Street’s managing directors and backed by a number of C-level executives from across the custodian’s business.  

Reboot. comprises a team of ethnic minority ally cross-industry communications and marketing professionals who are aiming to use the power of storytelling to support positive dialogue on race in the workplace and engage senior leadership across large organisations to help tackle conscious and unconscious biases.

Founded by Noreen Biddle Shah, marketing and communications managing director at State Street, the initiative also counts the custodian’s chief marketing officer, Hannah Grove; head of business and international marketing, Andrew Muncer; and State Street Global Advisor’s chief investment officer, Richard Lacaille, among its advisory board.

The Black Lives Matter movement got many of us thinking and talking like we have never before,” Shah told Global Custodian. “For me, I decided to share my dad’s story on institutional racism back in the 70s/80s and the ramifications it had on him and our family. I was encouraged by the response and how genuine people were in wanting to do more and be part of change. This led to a conversation with my marketing and communications friends who come from an ethnic minority background and reboot. was born. 

Over the coming weeks, reboot. will release a series of video interviews on LinkedIn with black, Asian and ethnic minority professionals who are redefining the corporate world. Many are interviewed by their senior leaders to delve into their career journeys and the obstacles they have faced, plus thoughts on how to achieve a truly inclusive workplace. 

Premiered on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and running through International Women’s Day, the first interview in the campaign is a conversation between Baroness Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30% Club and chair of the Diversity Project and Mary Fitzpatrick, head of diversity and inclusion at Natwest Markets.

In addition, State Street’s CEO for EMEAJoerg Ambrosius, will be interviewing Ritu Shirgaokarhead of international and regulatory legal at the custodian, and also advisor to reboot, in an upcoming episode.

With the events last year in the United States that further amplified racial injustice in our communities and the ripple effects it had around the world, it’s my hope that this is a permanent discussion that doesn’t cool-off,” said Ambrosius.

Being silent is not an option anymore. This is why State Street is keen to support its workforce with initiatives such as reboot. We all have much to learn and much to give, and State Street is absolutely committed to doing this important work. 

In a statement the initiative pointed out that while Ethnic minorities make up 14% of the UK working age population, they only account for 6% of senior positions, 5% of CEOs in FTSE 100 organisations, and 3% of the most prominent 1,000 people in the UK. This all adds up to a £3.2 billion  pay gap for ethnic minority workers in the UK versus their white peers. 

“Our plan is to make reboot a long running platform,” added Biddle Shah. “Success for us is that we continue having positive and engaging dialogue between ethnic minorities, allies and senior leadership teams. We also hope to grow in numbers. We encourage PR and marketing agencies and professionals to get in touch if they want to be part of future initiatives.  

Given reboot is completely new and independent, it was incredible to see how many financial organisations, like Invesco, Citi and State Street were so willing to show support. We hope others will come forward as we start to build momentum.”

To find out more, you can visit the initiative’s LinkedIn page by clicking here.