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Ignoring diversity requirements risks isolating half the population

John Barrass

John Barrass

Despite these somewhat depressing statistics, 2018 research by McKinsey continued to reinforce the value of diversity and inclusion by showing that firms with greater gender and ethnic diversity on their executive teams are 21 per cent to 33 per cent more likely to outperform on profitability than their counterparts, and that closing the gender gap nationwide could result in a £150bn boost for the UK economy.

These figures have become catalysts to encourage firms across the UK to adapt and diversify. More firms now offer ‘returnship’ programmes to individuals, especially females, returning to work after a career break, including workshops, mentoring and flexible working arrangements. 

Regulatory developments reflect the momentum for change and the FCA has itself created targets to increase the number of women senior leaders on its staff by 2020 and 2025.

Different means will be employed to help reach these, including the use of mentoring and apprenticeship programmes and an expanded recruitment pool. 

FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey has highlighted the benefits that the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) can bring to the diversity agenda, stressing that firms can take advantage of the opportunity the new regulation presents for firms not only to review the assignment of conduct responsibility to individuals, but also to examine their culture and approach to diversity and inclusion. 

HM Treasury has also announced it will be keeping a close eye on whether companies are making sufficient progress towards diversity: over 300 financial services firms have signed up to its Women in Finance Charter initiative and it is to be hoped that this number will increase over time. 

Pimfa understands that wealth patterns are shifting and society is changing, and that our industry must change in line, implementing a diverse and inclusive culture agenda in which both women and men can flourish and which becomes a fundamental part of business.

The full degree of change needed will not happen overnight, but the issue is now high on the priority list.

With the help of practical guidance and best practice standards, the use of modern technology, and realistic and measurable flexible working methods, our firms can work positively to bring desirable new approaches into being.

John Barrass is deputy chief executive of Pimfa