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My Big Four firm says it’s not racist, but it is

I work in audit for a Big Four firm in London. All the messaging here is about how diverse we are, and how important diversity is, but it’s all hot air.

The diversity in my team is all at junior levels, and it’s mostly the result of hiring immigrants on visas. Almost all the partners and the senior managers here are British nationals and are Caucasian.

The hypocrisy is starting to grate. I am a minority myself and I feel that my ethnicity is holding me back. I am working incredibly hard, 60 hours a week, but I don’t feel that I’m being rewarded or promoted for my effort. Instead, I see local people promoted ahead of me, despite the fact that they’re doing nothing different. I also see ethnic minorities being let go ahead of locals.

The bias is both conscious and unconscious. On one hand, I’ve been told that I can’t visit a client who only likes working with Caucasians and local British people. On the other, I think that the partners and senior managers are promoting in their image.

Of course, my firm is very good at optics. There are a handful of people of colour in senior positions and they are used to justify the treatment of everyone else. Because the junior and mid-ranking roles are filled with people of diverse ethnicity on visas, most of them are extremely submissive and don’t challenge the status quo for fear of losing everything. Instead, once it becomes apparent that they won’t get promoted, they quietly leave and get a job in industry instead.

Personally, I am fed up with it. I'm tempted to complain for the sake of my own integrity, but people keep telling me to stay quiet and to find somewhere else to work instead. I would appreciate some advice in the comments below.

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AUTHORAnil Vadekar Insider Comment
  • Ge
    18 August 2022

    Don’t cry like a little baby and search the reason at others… it’s just your bad performance

  • RE
    16 August 2022

    There are a lot of businesses out there and they aren't run the
    same way. If you are in a job for 2 years and not promoted go find another company and research their hiring and promotion tactics. Your current employer isn't going to change for you.

  • Gi
    Gina M
    16 August 2022

    I am a minority and see nothing wrong with the situation you describe. Please consider that, without the diversity push at the junior level, minorities (including you) would not even have these entry level opportunities. The system is to hire many and diverse at the junior/mid level and it is a weeding out and self selecting system when it comes to rising the top and the competition is strong. You may think that your performance is ok and just as good as the Caucasians but this is not enough to warrant advancement given the strong competition.

    The added advantage of the Caucasians is that they are socialised and have a set of behaviours that makes it easy to work with them and that in turn makes them good at promoting and selling the company when they become partners. I cannot say the same for the working class Caucasians who face just as much adversity and lack of opportunities as you and may complain that the minorities are getting in through the door at the expense of lower class Caucasians.

    Rather than bemoaning the perceived unfairness of it all, why dont you focus on improving yourself and gain the grooming, social capital and credentials that will take you to the top no matter where you are. I believe that the cream always rises to the top. I also believe that everyone believes that they are smarter and more talented than they truly are, especially the juniors.

  • 27
    16 August 2022

    Don't say or do anything, just go quietly. I made the very sorry mistake of standing up to blatant wrongdoing and very sadly suffered the utter destruction of my entire career and wellbeing as the Employment Tribunal System is just as biased, racist and corrupt as the industry itself.

    Should you ever have to face that proposition, it will be down to sheer luck that you win; and even if you do, there's absolutely no guarantee of a Loss of Income award, it most likely would be a token gesture if that, to acknowledge that you 'may' have been treated unfairly.

    Furthermore, in your very close knit industry, it only takes a vindictive and wholly false verbal bad reference to stop you in your tracks from ever getting another job. That's exactly what happened to me as I stood up to my immoral employer and their cover up to protect the 'Old Boys Club'.

    Moral of the story, it is not illegal not to provide a reference based on a formal request and you can never prove verbal bad mouthing unless you have endless funds and can essentially tap phones!

    It's better to simply get out, move on and keep on trying to climb. Just pray for a good manager and management team who can actually see the value to the business from your talents rather than their own narrow self interests.

    I wish you all the best!

  • BL
    16 August 2022

    Only a quota system can solve the problem of racisim

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