How Can the Finance Sector Improve Diversity & Inclusion?

Empty 16 June 2021

The UK finance sector has long been calling for improvements to be made in terms of diversity and inclusion. In August 2020, it was announced that the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority was still not tracking the racial and ethnic makeup of employees in the finance sector, despite promoting diversity as a top priority for the sector as a whole.

It seems that since this announcement, not much notable progress has been made, given that in March 2021, Neil Rathi, CEO of the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), highlighted how they are prioritising diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives in the “near future”.

So, what needs to be done to improve D&I in the UK finance sector, if not much movement has been made up until now?

Capturing diversity data in the UK finance sector

There are three key areas that need vast improvement in the UK finance sector when it comes to diversity. Firstly, the number of women working overall in the sector, as well as in leadership positions. In 2019, the FCA estimated that the UK finance sector wouldn’t achieve gender equality for another 88 years.

In the UK, women make up almost half (45%) of the finance workforce, yet this is not translated in the representation of women at director level, and are more commonly placed in lower-paid positions.

Furthermore, improvements also need to be made when it comes to representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers in the UK finance sector. Randstad stated that members of the BAME community currently hold less than 10% of jobs at managerial level in the finance sector.

Jonathan Ashong-Lamptey, a diversity campaigner and consultant to FTSE 100 businesses, said: “If we are trying to improve the number of Black people in an organisation, first we need to understand where we are and then measure that progress. Anyone who is serious about making strides in this space will be attempting to capture the data.”

What else needs to change?

There is still a long way to go before employees working in the UK finance sector feel that they are being recruited and employed fairly.

According to research by Culture Shift, when speaking to employees in finance roles in the UK:

- 84% of employees also said that working for a businesses with a strong reputation for treating employees fairly was fundamental to their overall happiness at work

- 25% of people said their employer could improve their company culture by recruiting more people of different religions/faiths

- 26% of people said their employer could improve its culture by recruiting more people of varying abilities

- 21% of people believe that workplace culture could be improved by recruiting more women 

- 80% of employees in the finance sector said working at a company with a strong ethical background was important to them

- 15% of people stated that their employer could be more inclusive by recruiting more people from LGBTQ+ backgrounds

- 15% of employees said their employer should prioritise promoting people from minority and marginalised backgrounds to improve their overall workplace culture

- 18% of people said their employer could improve workplace culture by recruiting more people from BAME backgrounds

- 25% of people stated that workplace culture could be improved by providing D&I training to all employees

How can the UK finance sector improve its diversity?

Businesses in all industries need to be aware when recruiting for finance roles that they need to be inclusive and unbiased at all times. It can be easier said than done, but the best way to do so is by adapting and updating old and outdated recruitment processes.

For example, working with a specialist recruitment company in the finance space means that candidates will be chosen based on their experience, skills and ability, without hiring managers knowing anything about their background as a first port of call. Recruiting this way means everyone can be given a fair chance at a role, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability or age.

Get in touch

If you would like help with finding candidates for finance roles in your company, or you want to know more about how WSH can help improve the overall diversity and inclusion within your business, get in touch with us today.

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