Building a stronger foundation for diversity and inclusion in the financial services industry

23rd Feb 2023

The Urgent Need for Diversity and Inclusion in the Financial Services Sector: Challenges and Opportunities

At Corndel, we recognise the importance of Diversity and Inclusion within the Financial Services sector. In the financial services industry, there exists a notable disparity in gender representation as men earn salaries that are 24% higher than those of their female colleagues. This percentage is significantly higher than the 11.6% average gender pay gap observed in all other sectors. This is a significant concern that firms must address and act upon. Additionally, a closer look at seniority levels reveals a lack of diversity in mid-to-senior roles, with women occupying only 14% of Chair roles, 32% of Senior Independent Director roles, and 18% of Financial Directors according to the FTSE Women’s Leaders Review 2022.

Moreover, government statistics indicate that 49% of the poorest workers are unable to train after leaving school, compared to 20% of the richest. This issue is further intensified in the Financial Services sector, where high-level degree attainment is often a requirement for entry. Eliminating these barriers to entry should be a priority for Financial Services firms.

Companies that prioritise gender equity internally can see their influence on a broader scale, achieving an overall more equitable industry while supporting an even more comprehensive society. Deloitte’s report also discovered that a more diverse company correlates with better business outcomes. Thus, it is crucial for Financial Services firms to prioritise Diversity and Inclusion to improve business performance and contribute to a more equitable society.

The Desirability of Diversity and Inclusion

As an organisation committed to promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) , it is essential to understand why it is desirable in the financial services sector. The report by Merje highlights that 85% of financial services CEOs found that promoting DE&I helps enhance business performance. Furthermore, fostering DE&I is associated with creativity through the diversity of perspectives, a positive work environment, and an encouraging image for firms that embrace DE&I. Employees feel appreciated for who they are and the value they bring, ultimately creating a happy environment where people want to work

The McKinsey report, titled “Diversity Wins,” highlights the financial risks companies take when they do not consider D&I at the C-suite or senior levels. The research shows that companies with the most ethnically diverse boards outperform those with the least diverse boards by 36%. The CFA supports this research in their report by stating that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are crucial to the competitive success of any financial sector company’s future.

It is evident that D&I has become a desirable attribute for any successful company. Financial services firms must prioritise Diversity and Inclusion to achieve their business objectives and improve their bottom line.

Strategies for Diversity and Talent Development

Solutions for Gender Imbalance and Lack of Diversity

The lack of women in mid-to-senior roles in the Financial Services sector is attributed to a lack of educational opportunities, hostile work environments, and an absence of professional support for women starting out. McKinsey identifies unsupportive environments as one of the main barriers to entry. Women in entry-level positions experience burnout and fail to progress due to unclear pathways, strict degree requirements, and work-life balance. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022 highlights the shortage of women in leading senior roles worldwide.

Solutions for Improving Gender Diversity

Apprenticeships provide women with critical skills for leadership roles and instill confidence in them. Corndel’s Professional Coaches can offer insights into the financial sector. Merje recommends support networks and peer solutions, such as male and female senior leaders mentoring junior female employees. FCA Effectiveness of Action solutions like setting specific business area targets, creating diverse shortlists, and having diverse panels for interviews positively affect D&I.

Solutions for Widening the Talent Pool

Targeting schools or further education colleges reinforces social mobility and benefits organisations. Only requiring qualifications essential to the role prevents hindering D&I. Supporting applicants throughout the process and after the job offer enforces an inclusive culture from the outset. The neurodiverse talent pool is a group wrongly overlooked when businesses consider potential candidates. Neurodiverse people often bring unique perspectives to companies due to their different wiring, including attention to detail and strategic thinking. Harvard Business Review reports that embracing these individuals leads to benefits such as increased productivity and profit margins, lower defect rates, and more innovation. Hiring neurodiverse employees fosters an inclusive culture, diversifies strengths and offerings, encourages creativity and innovation, and provides new perspectives to companies’ efforts.

Addressing Diversity and Skills Gaps through Apprenticeships and Upskilling

As the need for lifelong learning grows across industries, apprenticeships have emerged as a viable solution for companies looking to broaden their hiring pool beyond those with traditional degrees. Corndel’s Leadership and Management programmes, as well as Degree apprenticeships, are two such examples. By tapping into a more diverse range of candidates from different socio-economic backgrounds, including those who may have been historically disadvantaged due to financial hardships or lack of educational opportunities, these apprenticeships can help companies foster more inclusive and equitable workplaces.

Corndel’s Leadership programmes are particularly effective at upskilling existing leaders and managers, equipping them with the tools they need to promote Diversity and Inclusion within their teams and foster a culture of inclusive leadership. Meanwhile, apprenticeships and upskilling programmes can help build the confidence of female candidates, support neurodiverse talent, and promote social mobility by providing critical skills training to candidates from all backgrounds.

Why Corndel is the Perfect Partner for Solutions

As an award-winning levy-funded education provider, Corndel is a trusted partner of more than 150 enterprise organisations, supported by world-leading institutions. Our Leadership and Management apprenticeships deliver high-impact solutions, providing candidates with the skills and abilities to maximise organisational performance and achieve their potential through proven industry experts who provide world-class coaching. We ensure that our programmes cover the crucial skills identified by the Financial Services Skills Commission Framework (FSSC) for future success in the financial industry, such as Digital Literacy, Creative Thinking, Coaching, Empathy, Teamwork, Adaptability, and Relationship Management. Our modules and practical skills cover all these areas, benefiting individual professional development and organisational objectives. With Corndel, turn knowledge into performance.

Utilising the Levy to Support Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

The Apprenticeship Levy is a powerful tool that can help businesses of all sizes build and support diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforces. By using the levy to invest in apprenticeships, companies can create new opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds to develop their skills, gain valuable experience and progress in their careers.

The levy also provides a financial incentive for companies to invest in diversity and inclusion initiatives, as funds can only be used to cover the cost of apprenticeship training and assessment. By prioritising apprenticeships for individuals from underrepresented groups or investing in specialised training to support diversity and inclusion in the workplace, businesses can create a more diverse, inclusive and high-performing workforce.

Corndel's Leadership Programmes for EDI in the Financial Sector

Through our programmes, we aim to develop leaders who can not only drive business success but also create a culture of inclusivity and belonging. We are committed to weaving inclusive leadership throughout all our leadership programmes. Our approach prioritises cultivating the skills and knowledge necessary to lead diverse teams effectively, creating an environment where every employee can thrive.

Our Level 7 Diploma in Leadership and Management, delivered in partnership with Imperial College Business School London, provides a fully comprehensive and personalised development journey for current or aspiring senior leaders. For those starting their career, our Level 6 Chartered Manager degree apprenticeship BSc (Hons) builds in-demand skills, knowledge and habits, promoting diversity and inclusion by unlocking employee potential. Our Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management aims to advance mid-level managers’ skillset by developing their business-critical knowledge, skills and behaviours. Finally, our Level 3 Diploma in Management provides aspiring or first-time leaders with the basis they need to become successful, high-performing leaders in the future. Let us help you turn knowledge into performance and create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive financial sector.

If you want to stay ahead of curve, look no further than Corndel – we are the strategic skills partner for the Financial Services industry.