As we know, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is an approach taken to build more diverse teams, promote an inclusive workplace and develop a better organisational culture.
Such changes are vital to ensure the future success of the Financial Services sector, which has fallen behind other sectors in recent years when it comes to tackling D&I and putting policies and frameworks in place.
This has even led the FCA recently to focus on speeding up the pace of change around D&I in financial services with a view to building a better and healthier Financial Services industry.
After all, an inclusive environment ensures equitable access to resources and opportunities for all. An inclusive culture that leverages diverse views will be an important element in determining a Financial Services firm's success.
And according to a recent PwC Global Survey, 85% of financial services CEOs polled said promoting D&I helps to enhance business performance.
But despite their best intentions, without a proper understanding of the subject and what it entails, companies may find themselves struggling to effectively implement meaningful and impactful changes.
What is Diversity & Inclusion?
Diversity in any sector, not just banking, accounting and other parts of the Finance, means eliminating conscious and unconscious bias against underrepresented groups. This allows them to succeed and contribute at equal rates to other demographics operating in the business.
A truly diverse workplace means minorities make up proportionate roles in each division and have equal odds of success to any other demographic.
Why focus on improving your Diversity & Inclusion efforts?
Having diversity at work means that your employees will be exposed to different opinions, stances and viewpoints. When people who hail from different backgrounds join forces, they tend to devise new, and more efficient, ways of working.
Diversity in Financial Services leads to better creativity as people from various backgrounds and walks of life come together to share their different ideas and perspectives. Grouping individuals with a range of backgrounds and experiences together will no doubt result in broader thinking as they bounce off each other’s ideas.
More committed employees
Deloitte carried out a study of over 1,500 workers which revealed how diversity in the workplace encourages employee engagement, buy-in and trust. This means that talented individuals are likely to stay with you longer and add more value to your organisation as they acquire more experience, while reaping the benefits that come with working in a diverse team.
Improved employer brand
Particularly in candidate-short hiring markets, businesses need to be doing all they can to stand out from the crowd and appeal to UK workers. These days, this is about more than just offering a handsome salary.
More and more people are basing their career decisions on a company’s culture, ethos and commitment to ESG issues like sustainability and diversity & inclusion, which is why firms must take note and make those internal improvements in order to attract talent.
A better profit margin
A report by management consultancy Mckinsey, entitled ‘Diversity Wins’, highlighted the financial risk businesses take when they ignore diversity at C-suite or senior level. Their research found that companies with the most ethnically diverse boards outperformed those with the least diverse boards by 36%. This provides compelling evidence that diverse leadership has a direct correlation with better business success.
Actions to take to improve your company’s D&I commitments
Understand any existing lack of diversity
To overcome underrepresentation of different ethnicities, firms need to understand their current employee landscape and take considered measures to address it and optimise diversity in the workplace. This might include:
Reviewing current organisation structure and staff make-up
Conducting a survey of the current workforce to understand their feelings about the company’s current D&I standing
Providing training and development to uncover where any unconscious bias may lie so that it can tackled directly
Making D&I a part of your firm’s mission, vision, values and culture
Tweaking the language of job adverts to make them more appealing to ethnic minorities
Implement tangible positive changes
Behind-the-scenes improvements to operational processes are all well and good, but visible changes which employees can use on a daily basis go a long way towards introducing cultural shifts. They might encompass:
Providing dedicated prayer rooms
Adding all gender toilets
Making sure that workplaces have wheelchair-friendly entrances, disabled toilets and other Disability Discrimination Act compliant improvements
Offering flexible, hybrid or remote home working
Review your recruiting strategy
There is often conscious and unconscious bias in recruiting that can reduce the number of diverse hires you make. Consider where you source talent, your hiring process, what skills you look for and who is involved in hiring choices.
Set diversity targets and stick to them
These targets can include a percentage of diverse new hires or percentage of your total workforce. Set these up ahead of time, track them and make sure you’re reaching these goals. This holds your company accountable and prevents talented diverse candidates from slipping through the net.
Make the LGBTQIA+ community feel welcome
The Financial Services industry isn’t typically thought of as being particularly cisgender heavy, with just a small amount of professionals within it identifying as non-binary. Opening up to make the LGBTQIA+ community feel welcome will help you to attract a more diverse talent pipeline and, in turn, a more inclusive office culture. This can be achieved by adding pronoun options to application forms, implementing LGBTQIA+ inclusion training and creating non-gendered parental leave policies.
Technology can detect any biases in compensation and promotion that discourage diversity. It can be challenging for organisations to effectively notice trends in the data using the human eye alone. By implementing technology such as AI, it’s possible to map any worrying patterns and trends and correct them accordingly.
Conduct a D&I audit
A useful way to interrogate the state of D&I in any workplace is by undertaking an audit in the form of a structured assessment. Doing so, will help to provide CEOs, senior managers and HR teams key inclusivity insights at every level of the business.
It’s also worth investing in training and other tools to ensure employees understand the importance of D&I. Holding employees accountable for their actions and behaviour can only be achieved when D&I is placed at the heart of your business. Successful change can only be achieved when it comes from the top down.
Offer equal opportunities and incentives
Everyone should be privy to the same salary if they’re at the same level, regardless of gender, age or sexual orientation. This must also extend to workplace benefits, bonuses, commission structure and extra perks like meal vouchers and subsidies for household subscriptions.
The take away…
Although the pathway to building a truly diverse business might be a long one, it will pay off in future as your Financial Services business experiences increased creativity, a loyal workforce and higher revenue than ever.
If you’d like to discuss this or any of the topics covered in our articles, please get in touch.