The finance sector’s reputation as male-dominated and the culture that has evolved as a result of this is still causing a significant diversity imbalance for many organisations. The gender pay gap reporting has brought this issue to the forefront and is now high on the agenda for businesses in the UK. In fact, around 93% of our clients now actively seek advice on improving the diversity and inclusivity of their teams. The key point that arises during these discussions is where do you start?
Most organisations today have a much clearer understanding of the importance of D&I in the workplace and are also wanting to better understand the candidate marketplace. The drive to attract a more diverse workforce in finance including women and people with a BAME background is a positive step in the right direction. However, those that have been the most successful are also working internally to become more inclusive in their culture and this is crucial to the longer-term success of any D&I strategy.
Supporting an inclusive culture
Although we are seeing a growing number of female talent coming into the sector, the challenge still remains when pushing for women at senior levels. We have previously explored the idea that many women deselect themselves for leadership roles which is why increased support from business is crucial. There are also specific roles that there are larger gender gaps such as at the CFO level and FC level. From a sector perspective, oil and gas and financial services are more challenging but they are also the industries that are putting more effort in to rebalance diversity in their businesses.
Without an inclusive culture, diversity is not sustainable. Businesses that recruit for diversity but don’t work on their internal culture often find that they very quickly lose this talent. Hiring people from diverse backgrounds and integrating them into a culture that doesn’t support them often results in these professionals becoming culturally ostracised.
But what does it really mean to be inclusive? There are so many areas of diversity to consider. While gender is at the forefront of organisations’ agendas there is also work to be done in terms of LGBT, BAME, and disability for example. A truly inclusive culture allows all people from diverse backgrounds to come into work and openly be themselves. It is empathetic and supportive, which means that everyone’s ideas are heard and respected. An organisation that cares about its people – their wellbeing, their career, their home lives - and how those people feel working for them, is empathic which is key to increase inclusivity and diversity.
At a recent Michael Page event, we explored empathy within a business. Boosting empathy within your teams might be as simple as a change in the language that is used in your business, the meeting styles that employees utilise, the culture within the office, or the way that the leadership team interacts with the wider business.
Promoting your inclusive working culture to attract talent
If your business is looking to begin the D&I journey, we would suggest striving to tackle the gender gaps within your teams as a good place to start. Recognising the areas in which your business is especially imbalanced is also important. Whether you are lacking women in more senior roles or minority groups in specific areas of the department. There are a few key ways to help support diverse groups. Once you have developed these, it is all about sharing these messages externally.
Build awareness and educate people on how to be more inclusive at work. Provide training and development to senior managers first, then to employees at all levels. Introduce a mentoring programme and establish internal networks to support your diverse network then celebrate those successes – not just internally but also externally. Share the successes of your business when diversity milestones are achieved and celebrate the career successes of the individuals that work in your organisation.
Changing a long-standing perception of a business or an industry is difficult, which is why brand messaging is key. To have a brand that is appealing to a diverse pool of candidates or one that people with a diverse background are able to identify with should be the goal. The diversity of your business needs to be reflected throughout all aspects of an individual’s interaction with your brand - as a customer, candidate, and employee.
In the recruitment process specifically, job descriptions should use language that does not exclude minority groups, interviews should be carried out by a varied and diverse group of people to highlight that, and onboarding processes should ensure that individuals are given the level of support they need to thrive in their new roles.
At Michael Page, we strive to provide a diverse pool of exceptional talent that would thrive in the positions you are hiring for. With over 40 years of experience in recruitment and a network of over 1000 consultants recruiting right across the UK, we are well placed to provide unique insights into the marketplace that you are recruiting in.
If you would like more information about adopting a diverse and inclusive recruitment process and how we can support your D&I initiatives, please get in touch with your local Michael Page office today.
Director, Professionals Services UK
Michael Page Finance
T: +44 20 7269 2244