The importance of diversity within banking and finance

Diversity’s an extremely important issue in banking and finance. As companies continue increasing efforts to promote inclusion from within, this impacts the way recruitment’s handled. At Huxley, we recognise the significant role recruiters can play in diversifying the industry.

In March, Dr. Ami Fakey, Senior Partner, held an event that focused on creating diversity within the recruitment process, inviting leaders from the industry to share their insight specifically for recruiters, incorporating an inclusive mind set when carrying out daily activities.

Diversity schemes for all

Government legislation is continuously being written to ensure businesses are inclusive. Most recently, new UK gender pay gap legislation was released that requires all companies with over 250 employees to publish data average salary information, to see if there’s a pay gap. This transparency encourages companies to address inequality head on, and be proactive in fixing any problems.

We’re seeing an increasing amount of banking companies outline policies to ensure their people are recruiting a diverse workforce. Often, diversity agendas are tailored for specific groups, with some receiving more attention than others. For example, we’ve seen a lot industry of campaigns being created around gender equality, whereas age discrimination is less of a hot topic. According to Ami, “Its important organisations have diversity policies that strive for equality for all. Diversity isn’t about singling out one specific group; it’s the opposite. Businesses must continually educate their employees on the importance of equality and inclusion within the topic of diversity itself, otherwise we run the risk of creating further problems.”

Morality and legal protocols aren’t the only reasons companies should strive for a diverse workforce; a diverse team brings distinct benefits. If a business consists of people from different backgrounds, their views will be more varied and companies have a bigger pool of ideas to pull from. Anna Meller, Director at Sustainable Working Ltd., explains, “Employers are increasingly understanding the benefits of having employees who can relate to clients through a shared background. This makes them more effective at selling services and at spotting new needs so they can develop new product offerings for a more diverse customer base.”

Changes for hiring managers

Research suggests many managers hire people similar to themselves. In a study of 120 interviews, Lauren Rivera, Professor at Kellogg’s School of Management, made an interesting discovery, “Hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting. It is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but culturally similar to themselves.”

Jessica Chivers, CEO at The Talent Keeper Specialists, believes, “Recruiters are ideally placed to find commonalities between candidates and companies and also to draw hiring line managers’ attention to the skills and experiences candidates have which may need strengthening within the existing team. At first glance, a candidate may not seem the ideal fit for a team, but if they have the skills a hiring manager is looking for and bring something that’s missing in the team, its important recruiters re-enforce this.”

Anna adds to this, “Recruiters are in a privileged position as they get to see what’s happening across an organisation and across an industry. They can use this to give a reluctant hiring manager examples of where the diverse candidate strategy has been successful elsewhere. So the hiring manager feels more confident.”

Lorraine Rodriques, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Fidelity International, discusses the format of interviews on a larger scale, saying, “I believe that all hiring managers want the best candidate for the role, but we can all occasionally derail when it comes to assessing for ‘cultural fit’ and this is where many lean towards hiring people like themselves; this is human nature.  Therefore, eliminating bias in the interview process is a good way of ensuring a diverse talent pipeline. For example, a diverse interview panel helps us to be objective and stick to the competencies that were identified as important from the outset.”

Ami also agrees with this, “It’s essential that diversity programmes promote inclusion. For example, if programmes are being established that seek to create a more gender balanced workforce, they need to strive to create a more inclusive workforce across the board, promoting the hiring of a diverse pool of women.  It is a fine balance and a true challenge to ensure that we do not promote and recruit in our own image, in the name of diversity and inclusion itself.” 

The impact of flexible working

Flexible working’s changing the way people work across all industries, and banking is no exception. Remote working and flexi-time accommodates the needs of many diverse candidates, making it possible for them to take on positions that may previously have been inaccessible.

It’s interesting to consider whether diversity’s led to a rise in flexible working, or whether flexible working has allowed more diverse candidates to gain employment. Regardless, its obvious flexible working is accommodating a wider pool of candidates across the board.

Our event on diversity and inclusion

At Huxley, we’re passionate about making sure our consultants understand the importance of diversity and inclusion, which is why we held the event in March. Ami says, “Inclusion is such an important topic to draw attention to, as it impacts us all. More often than not we think we live in a fair world where everyone’s given an equal chance, but there’s still so much more to be done. It was really useful for our consultants to hear from experts how the work they do every day can help companies to create a more inclusive environment. We learned how important it is for recruiters to create inclusivity where possible in the recruitment process. ”

According to Michael Difford, Recruitment Consultant, “One of the speakers said we shouldn’t see diverse candidates as “diverse” but see everyone on a level playing field and consider each individual situation. This really resonated with me.” Another consultant, Trystan Davies-Tommason, also gained insight that he can apply to his role every day, “I learned you can’t build a business full of robots; contrasting genders, cultures and demographics leads to bigger and better ideas.”

If you want to learn more about opportunities within an array of companies who are passionate about diversity, contact one of our dedicated team of consultants today.

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