The winners of Financial Adviser’s first ever Diversity in Finance Awards – celebrating individuals and companies whose policies, schemes and initiatives have encouraged and enabled diversity in the workplace – were applauded at a dinner and presentation ceremony on July 3 in London.
The Diversity in Finance Awards were developed to celebrate people and companies in the financial services industry who are striving to make the workforce more inclusive, acknowledging those who have demonstrated support for minority groups and promoted and inspired those who are otherwise under-represented.
Entrants were asked to share their unique and inspiring stories of how they have worked to improve employment conditions and opportunities for one or many underrepresented groups in 2018.
The judges, a panel of industry experts, conceded that all of the entries were admirable and that it was extremely difficult to select one final winner in each category.
Ros Altman, a former pensions minister and judge on the panel, said it was extremely encouraging there were so many good entries, recognising many inspiring leaders who are inciting change within their own companies and across the industry.
While Nicky Morgan, chairwoman of the Treasury Committee and also a judge on the panel, commented: “It is an encouraging sign, and whether it’s because of discussions over the gender pay [gap] or conversations about diversity more generally, change is being driven unlike ever before.”
It was also great to see a variety of entrants, all of which explored a range of diversity initiatives, she added.
Among the winners of the awards was diversity champion of the year David Blackburn, chief people officer at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
The judges said they were impressed by his personal commitments, such as pioneering the age diversity agenda and working to transform the scheme’s approach to diversity, which stood out from other entries.
The judges highly commended Adeola Ajayi, advocacy manager at the Association of British Insurers, for her ability to track real results and progress, showing strong thought leadership of diversity and inclusion in the British insurance industry.
Employer of the year award went to the FSCS, on the basis it had the broadest range of diversity projects aimed at improving diversity across age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental health, disability and impairment.
MetLife took home highly commended, for the many different areas it demonstrated it was involved in, such as corporate social responsibility, employer engagement, LGBT, mental health and awareness and wellbeing, following a huge restructuring of the business.
Andy Nibloe, head of risk and compliance at MetLife, took home the award for championing disability inclusion after demonstrating solid time commitment to training and sharing benefits with others and achieving a measurable reduction in sickness absence through mindfulness training.
One judge noted that – as well as supporting people going through a rough patch – strengthening the overall wellbeing of an organisation was an important achievement.
Highly commended for this award went to Karen Cooke, human resource business partner at Hargreaves Lansdown, for her devotion to mental health in the workplace and for founding a mental fitness group, also demonstrating commitment outside of her day job.