New report highlights FS firms’ culture shortcomings

Out-Law News | 08 Mar 2022 | 1:13 pm |

Kate Dodd tells HRNews about ways to improve inclusion in the FS sector in light of a report by the FSCB and FSSC
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  • Transcript

    The financial services sector must do more to promote inclusion in the workplace if it wants to attract and retain talent. That is the central message in a new report by the Financial Services Culture Board (FSCB) and the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC). The report is called – Inclusion across financial services: Piloting a common approach to measurement – and had over 3,000 employee responses. 

    The findings show that while the majority of employees felt their managers promoted an inclusive environment at work, there were three big concerns which were: being stereotyped, speaking up about issues, and the perceived fairness of workplace processes.

    Commenting on the findings, Alison Cottrell, Chief Executive of the FSCB said: ‘Good businesses benefit from having people of different backgrounds and experiences who are able and ready to make suggestions, speak up and learn from each other. Good people want to work in businesses where inclusion is the cultural norm, and where difference is not just accepted but valued.’

    Claire Tunley, Chief Executive of the FSSC said: ‘The financial services sector is facing acute skills shortages and it’s clear that ensuring an inclusive workplace culture is integral to talent retention, attraction and wider business success. Understanding employees’ experience of inclusion as well as diversity is key to tracking this and an essential step to achieving better outcomes for business and society.’

    As you would expect, we have a lot of clients in the FS sector and we are helping many of them address these issues with the help of our diversity and inclusion consultancy Brook Graham, working closely with HR teams. The approach, in broad terms, is to invite businesses to ask themselves 5 questions. So:

    1 How inclusive is your leadership?
    2 Are your systems and processes inclusive and transparent?
    3 Can people speak up?
    4 How much stereotyping is going on in the business?
    5 Are you pursuing a culture of belonging?

    Armed with the answers to those questions you can see where the gaps are and work on making changes. Kate Dodd is a diversity and inclusion specialist who has been advising clients in this area and she joined me by video-link from Manchester. Given the scope of those five questions, I asked Kate if there is one thing HR should focus on what would it be?

    Kate Dodd: “The most important thing is the data. So, when we're talking to clients, and we're doing this on an international basis with lots of our clients now, it's interesting and it's exciting. So, it's around who is in your business, understanding where that diversity data sits and, of course, making sure that you've got that mechanism in place. So, once you've got that data you know how to use it. So, what I want to know, if I'm coming to talk to you, is to say well, how long does it take to get promoted in your business and how does that differ if you're a man or a woman, or if you're a woman of colour, or if you are a man with a disability? I want to be able to understand how that impacts on somebody's experience within your organisation. That is the kind of ‘numbers data’ as it were, but also then we want the quality, the qualitative data, which is around people's experiences and, therefore, being able to ask questions. Things like focus groups are great for that and surveys, to some extent, are really good as well so that you can say to people, how inclusive is the leadership here, or how transparent are our processes and systems? You're not going to get that information from a numerical spreadsheet, you have to go out there and ask people for their experiences. The other thing, I think, is a really crucial thing, and is something that all employees should be inspiring to doing, is to create a culture of listening and acting. It’s like when you go on the train. I always noticed in the railway stations they've got these kinds of boards that say, ‘you said we did’ and I absolute love those. They can be quite simple things. So, you've told us that you don't understand our promotion processes, or that our promotion processes are shrouded in mystery or secrecy, and what we've done is X or Y, so that you've got a really clear demonstration of being responsive. Then finally, something that really goes into that, of course, is being able to gather that evidence yourself as a business to show that your leadership is inclusive because you are making these changes. So, you're not just asking the questions because afterwards you have got demonstrable actions that are forming part of an overall strategy that you can then go back and show that this is you moving towards much more inclusive, transparent leadership.”

    That report on culture in the FS sector is called: ‘Inclusion across financial services: piloting a common approach to measurement’. We have put a link to it in the transcript of this programme.

    LINKS
    - Link to report:  Inclusion across financial services: piloting a common approach to measurement