In August 2021, Ian Clarke held the position of Vice President of Global Banking Sales in New York City, USA. A key strategist and innovator at HSBC Transaction Banking, he was instrumental across six strategic sub-sectors. As his illustrious 14-year career drew to a close, we delve into his views on driving change in the realm of banking and beyond, especially concerning Diversity & Inclusion (D&I).
Two years after his groundbreaking Project Speak Up report, which examined D&I in the financial sector and garnered global attention, we catch up with Ian to explore his insights on the dynamics of change in banking and business.
Legacy of Project Speak Up
Ian reflects that “Project Speak Up” succeeded in unifying people and reminding them that they are not alone in their struggles. The report brought about meaningful change, such as the historic appointment of the first black female board member in investment banking. Despite this achievement, Ian expresses frustration that it took 450 years and personal sacrifice to address these issues. He highlights the importance of valuing unique perspectives over nepotism and discrimination.
Challenges and Triumphs of Speaking Up
The murder of George Floyd and the ensuing global response underscored the need for genuine action, rather than performative gestures, from leaders. Ian believes that change requires addressing uncomfortable truths and not shying away from confronting difficult issues. He acknowledges that speaking up is not easy and can have financial repercussions, but emphasises that success is not solely measured by money. By prioritising the well-being of others, Ian’s purpose in life was strengthened, leading to personal growth and transformation.
Assessment of Business Leaders’ Efforts
Ian notes that over the past 15 years, digital transformation has revolutionised banking operations, making them more convenient for customers. However, despite legal and moral obligations, D&I has not seen the same transformative progress. Ian identifies 14 traits that face oppression in various forms across major firms. He urges leaders to embrace unique perspectives and reject homogeneity, as rigid adherence to discriminatory practices is ultimately self-destructive.
Views on Diversity & Inclusion
Ian emphasises that D&I is not just about diversity of appearance but also about fostering a culture that values unique perspectives. He acknowledges the challenges of addressing hatred and oppression, which require systemic change. Ian believes that significant global change can only occur through collective efforts like “Project Speak Up.”
Following his career in the corporate world, Ian founded the Deilightful Group, an initiative rooted in Quantum Mechanics, which he dubs a ‘Change Engine.’ By scaling up the principles of “Project Speak Up,” he aims to enact tangible global change. His book, “The Sciences of Change,” offers insights into his unique perspective on life, inspiring readers to tackle wicked problems with innovative solutions.
Ian’s journey reflects the power of speaking up, advocating for change, and embracing new paths to drive meaningful transformation in banking and beyond. To learn more or purchase his book, visit www.deilightful.com/the-sciences-of-change.