The Financial Conduct Authority has stated it is "on track" to meet its gender and black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) senior leadership targets over the next decade, as the regulator bolstered its support of diversity in financial services.
Speaking at Ropemaker Place in London today (December 19), Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said the regulator was on track to reach 8 per cent BAME senior leaders by 2020 and 13 per cent by 2025.
Mr Woolard said the regulator had set itself a target of 45 per cent of its senior leadership team to identify as female by 2020, and 50 per cent by 2025. The FCA had signed the Women in Finance Charter in 2016, which supports the progression of women into senior roles.
But Mr Woolard said it would be wrong for him to claim the regulator had "cracked" diversity.
He said: "While we’re making good progress on our senior leadership team targets, there is still more to do to ensure that we’re developing a diverse pipeline of talent who will lead the organisation in the future.
"We’re doing a number of things – such as reverse mentoring of senior staff by BAME colleagues, sponsorship programmes, reaching out to recruit from a much wider pool of universities, expanding our apprenticeship programme and demanding more of our line managers."
Mr Woolard emphasised diversity must not be seen as "two dimensional" around gender and BAME, stating he also felt strongly about social mobility.
He said: "I grew up on two council estates and lived in a tower block until I was 10. Now I’ve been very fortunate in my career, but I know many other bright kids who didn’t make the same journey.
"One of the questions for us is how we as an employer can find talent from many different sources, build and sustain it."
Mr Woolard said firms which foster an "inclusive and diverse" culture open themselves up to a wide range of perspectives, meaning "less fettered, more productive" internal debate.
He said: "Where a culture is open, risks are flagged, experiences are shared and decision-making is enhanced. But in a culture where colleagues are afraid to speak up, unethical behaviour can gain a foothold."
Mr Woolard said the regulator takes an interest in what firms are doing to promote diversity and inclusion and intends to check up on progress at regular engagements.
Individuals and companies have the chance to be nominated for their work on diversity and inclusion in financial services in Financial Adviser's inaugural awards, with winners to be announced in June 2019.