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Could it be construed as inappropriate and unhelpful to target black students for back office roles?

Last time we published something questioning why there seem to be so many ethnic minorities working in non-front office jobs in investment banks, we were met with a deluge of comments, including some saying that racism is “institutionalized” in investment banks and that racial stereotyping is more profound in the UK than elsewhere.

In this context, could it be seen as inappropriate to target black student societies for back office roles?

Earlier this month, the African Caribbean Society at Manchester University announced to its members that Goldman Sachs would be hosting a recruitment event targeting targeting black students in their 1st or penultimate year (Masters level included) who are interested in a career in Operations at the firm.


Maybe not. Goldman Sachs declined to comment, but the firm is understood to target black students for all roles, not just in the back office.

Even while hiring across banks falls, the battle for diversity candidates seems to be heating up. JPMorgan ran a special event for Afro Caribbean students last week. Non-banks are competing for the same pool of talent: Google has also been running black talent recruitment events.

One former Goldman recruiter says that, if anything, the firm is ahead of the curve when it comes to recruiting African candidates in the UK and has been visiting universities in countries like Nigeria for some time. Nevertheless, if the stream of invective that accompanied our previous article on alleged racial profiling by business area is an indicator of candidates’ feelings, it would help if banks worked harder to bring diversity to the front office – in operations and the middle office it’s seen as far less of an imperative.

Comments (21)

  1. A cynical way of bumping up with numbers for the CSR reports while not scaring not scaring the front office horses?

  2. I’m black and have worked in high profile ‘front office’ roles doing IT support. Did it for a few years and never, repeat, never, experienced any racism. I came into contact with some pretty ‘posh’ types whom I got on with very well. It helped that I was good at what I did and had pretty good people skills.

  3. I’m not sure IT Support would be considered front office

  4. fo shizzle ma nizzle

  5. Agree that diversity in banking still has a long way to go particularly in front office, however in this specific case, if Goldman are working to recruit Black students into back office but making equal effort to recruit minority students into front office and middle office then they should be applauded rather than criticised. Different graduates with varying skill-sets, personalities and levels of aptitude will be suited to different areas of banking and therefore equal efforts to recruit across the business are appropriate. Goldmans has been quite pioneering in it’s investment in diversity and particularly it’s work with organisations like Sponsors for Educational Opportunity and RARE. These banks realise that employing diverse workforces will enable for them to be competitive in the global marketplace. The lack of effort in diversity and inclusion programmes by small and medium sized banks is perhaps more of a challenging and news worthy issue.

  6. John, IT support is not ‘high profile’.


    The Managing Director

    The Managing Director Reply
  7. Oh Please! I’m black by the way, who would do a masters to work in operations? I don’t care if its Goldman Sachs.

    I really don’t see the need for this, most of my white friends did not make it to university and they could have done with a leg up.

    I know people who made it to interviews and ACs without going to a Russel Group, they don’t know your race until you show up. Then you must impress.

  8. How about women?

  9. John – IT is back office and not high profile.

  10. Goldman also goes to Brunel for their back office staff only which is an ethnic university with many black and indian students.

  11. @John —There is no such thing as front office IT support in banks and financial services. WAKE UP!!!

  12. @inappropriate

    shizzle ma nizzle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. “There is no such thing as front office IT support in banks and financial services. WAKE UP!!!”

    You’re right. When I was physically sat on a trading floor next to analysts, traders and their staff I was merely imagining it!

  14. John, what planet are you on???! Not everyone on a trading floor is front office. There are loads of other support people on the floor such as middle office, legal, etc.. and IT who supports the floor!!! In broad terms, all these support are back office!!!

  15. “John, what planet are you on???! Not everyone on a trading floor is front office. ”

    My title was ‘Front Office Support’ and I exclusively supported trading software used by traders and their auxilliary staff. There are no hard-and-fast rules about naming what/where people sit!

  16. John: “Front office *support*”.

  17. I find the attacks here on John incredibly mean and depressing.

    Not everyone is a trader, sure, that is understood.

    Personally, I’d rather see the positive light of my job that simply comparing it with that of a bond trader. If John is happy that his role is high profile, good luck to him, it just shows to me that he’ll be the type of guy that is professional and proactive, rather than most people who (seeing their jobs as unexiting and low profile) can’t be bothered and do a crap job.

    John aside, you’re all losers.

  18. Alarm clock. What would you call a IT Support bod, say at VP level earing Circa 100k Basic?

    If this is not high profile to you then alarm bells are ringing

  19. John: “Front office *support*”

    If the implication is that the word ‘support’ should be in lower case, then as it’s a title, it must be capitalised.


  20. “John aside, you’re all losers.”

    Very kind.

    The impression I’m getting is ‘status obsession’! Those office workers in ‘Front Office’ guarded those two words in the same way some would express pride in shopping regularly at Harrods.

    Status-obsessed office workers. Brings back memories.

  21. Dont worry John, its quite obvious most of the people that comment on this site have absolutely nothing positive going on in their lives except for the perceived status of their job.

    And to be on this site in the first place they cant be that happy with that either…or even worse, have been binned from it!! Haha

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