To create this toolkit, we worked with over 50 charities, membership bodies and employers within the legal, accountancy, management consultancy and financial services sector. We drew upon the Labour Force Survey, a nationally-representative survey, to generate new analysis and industry benchmarks to give insights into the sector’s performance on socio-economic diversity. Interviews with employers helped generate case studies and our leading evidence base and wider work with employers helped inform the guidance.
As a financial and professional services firm, nothing is more important than the quality of your people. The creativity, competitiveness and reputation of your business depends on the talent that you recruit and nurture. But the world is changing fast; are you doing all you can to attract the brightest and the best?
Smart businesses recognise the importance of reflecting the clients and communities they serve, and that diverse workforces create competitive advantage. Teams with a mix of backgrounds and experiences are more creative, have wider perspectives and develop better solutions for clients. Clients know this and want to work with firms that reflect their values and can offer them this diversity of thought. Hiring practices that exclude exceptional candidates who didn’t go to the right school or Russell Group university, didn’t have the right contacts, or couldn’t afford to work unpaid are no longer fit for purpose.
Firms across the sector are changing the way they reach out and hire talent, making this the new ‘business as usual’. But it’s not just about getting in – getting on is just as important. Evidence shows that diversity without inclusion and progression can harm your business and your employees, and in these respects the industry has work to do. A combination of established cultures and natural biases mean people from working class backgrounds, who perhaps do not have the ‘polish’ and profile of someone from a higher socio-economic background, often find it harder to progress and may take longer to climb up the ladder. Leading firms are taking action to overcome these biases, to benefit fully from the talent they have in place and create a culture of inclusion that increases staff loyalty and retention. For many more, this is the next step to take.
This practical toolkit has been created because you, the financial and professional services community, have asked for it. It is the product of unique research and months of consultations with trade groups and individual employers in law, accountancy, management consultancies and financial services. It is intentionally stretching in its commentary and recommendations, and it presents a roadmap to drive improvements in society, the economy and people’s lives – and benefits to your own business.