Patricia Hamzahee reviews the evening's discussion and conclusions

 

Gender and Beyond: Meeting the Diversity Challenge in Financial Services

 

How fitting it was to moderate a panel on Meeting the Diversity Challenge in Financial Services just as the current furore around how women (and men) are treated in the workplace is building to a cacophony. 

The Finance sector has been one of those places of work – like Hollywood, Parliament, Broadcasting and big business – where the culture has been shaped and controlled by the privileged white men in power. It is also an industry that promotes its exceptionalism – very clever and successful people doing complicated and risky work justifying historic high pay, limited oversight and weak sanctions for bad behaviour.

I agreed to chair this discussion for The Finance Foundation because I believe passionately that the post crisis culture change our society is seeking in Finance can only be embedded in our banks, insurance and investing institutions if we truly embrace Diversity.

To explore the change needed, we convened a panel of senior leaders from the sector with direct experience of the Diversity challenge. Tangy Morgan, Senior Advisor to the Prudential Regulation Authority of the Bank of England and a former insurance industry executive; AIG’s Geoff Godwin, UK Chief Operating Officer and Chair of their LGBT Group; and Jaclyn Dove, Executive Director, Insurance Europe at Standard Chartered Bank. They were joined by Justine Lutterodt, Director of the Centre for Synchronous Leadership, a leadership consultancy and thinktank that facilitates systemic change in the corporate sector.

Each panellist shared their personal journeys and what change they have witnessed during this time.

Ours was an intersectional discussion crossing multiple identities:  gender, ethnicity and sexuality. It was clear that many successes and challenges were shared across these communities.  We also recognised the unique challenges facing each group.  In both cases, solidarity was seen to be crucial to making headway.

The panel was asked if the sector is just paying lip service to diversity objectives, or whether real progress is being made in identifying what needs to be done to support fair and equal representation and reward regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation/identity.

Having worked in and around the Finance industry for decades, we all agreed that, despite some improvements, it was depressing to be having the same conversations as when we started working.

We discussed whether Boards and senior management were taking the right action to tackle barriers to equality. We also examined whether Board targets were a game changing intervention or a convenient distraction. The Parker Review has called for action to address the low representation of Black and Minority Ethnic staff at senior levels, where currently only 1.5% of UK FTSE100 are Board directors, and seeks at least 1 non-white board director at FTSE100 companies by 2021.  The 30% Club’s drive for women on boards has resulted in 27% representation. However, Oliver Wyman’s excellent 2016 Women in Finance report shows that only 13% of ExCos are women and they are usually in HR, Marketing and other functional support roles.

The Women in Finance Charter seeks to increase this representation. Similar initiatives are needed for BAME leadership and there are no initiatives that look at LGBT representation.

The panel then looked to the remedies that the Financial Services sector could embrace to make the necessary changes. 

The Legal sector was cited for the pioneering work of the Black Solicitor’s Network, now on its 10th Diversity League Table. Through rigorous benchmarking, promoting best practice and providing training and advice, the Legal sector was recognised for taking initial steps to make a meaningful difference. No such initiative exists in Finance.

There was some consensus that hard targets would make a meaningful difference.  There was also acknowledgement that the case for how diversity benefits business performance needs to be clarified.  This can be achieved through better articulation, additional research, and encouraging the research that already exists to be more widely shared:  from the Diversity Matters studies by McKinsey & Co to the numerous research studies into Asset Management performance that show diverse managers often perform as well as – or outperform – market benchmarks. 

The panel also tackled the emergence of Diversity fatigue, where initiatives are overtaking understanding. Proper training about unconscious bias that aligns with the business strategy, with diverse talents recognised as a competitive advantage, are needed.  

Another concern was how the lack of Diversity is shaping the influential realm of Artificial Intelligence and the programming of algorithms that are shaping all aspects of the world of work.

The audience raised the need to address not only the woman’s place at work but also the man’s, as he is also an essential contributor to the design of work/life balance career options.  The limited take up of shared parental leave in the Finance sector was noted with men in the audience highlighting how difficult such choices were for them to make.

At the end of the day, our panel agreed that progress on all Diversity fronts has been made, but that there was still so much more work to be done and that current approaches are taking too long. Targets, research and training supported by solidarity will ensure the success of Diversity in Finance.

Thank you to AIG for sponsoring this panel as part of its support for The Finance Foundation’s thought leadership series.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

Older people, especially those in their 80s and 90s are now at increasing risk of financial exclusion. Our 2016 report on this issue, based on original new research by the Finance Foundation is available here (PDF - 929KB).

"When I'm 84". Locking the Door on the Older Old: the Challenge Facing Britain's Banks argues that the very oldest in our society are now at risk of becoming financially excluded. As the rest of us switch to digital technology and the closure of high street banks continues apace, the needs of older people are in danger of being forgotten.

The Finance Foundation Director, Andrew Freeman, is now calling for change:

‘This report makes a hugely valuable contribution to the debate on the older old and their access to financial services. The Finance Foundation is deeply committed to social justice. What we need now is some real discussion about how the industry should respond to this challenge, and what role the public and voluntary sectors should play. Everyone has a stake in ensuring that older people can continue to live independently with full access to the services they need.’

Describing the report as ‘a fascinating and timely’ piece of work, Christine Farnish CBE, Chair of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association, said:

‘Access to your money, and the ability to make payments, is an essential part of being able to function in today’s world. It may be as important to an older person’s sense of self-worth as the ability to wash and feed themselves.’

Directed by Hilary Cooper, Senior Associate at The Finance Foundation, our research uses interview evidence from 175 older people to give an insight into the world of the over 80s - a group whose needs are normally invisible to policy makers as they are not separately studied. It also includes the views and experiences of over 250 family members and friends who, behind the scenes, help those in their 80s and 90s with their finances. The fieldwork was carried out for us by Opinium Research.

A summary of the key findings and recommendations is available here. Hilary provided a detailed response to the FCA's consultation paper DP/16/1, the precursor to a comprehensive strategy on the Ageing Population and Financial Services which the FCA published in October 2017. She has also submitted evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion, which was drawn on in their final report, written about the subject for Mature Times (November 2016 edition) and for the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing - see their blog page.

The Finance Foundation looks forward to engaging in further debate on this very important policy issue, in particular as the Access to Banking Protocol continues to be evaluated and refined. Hilary was interviewed for Money Box Live on 5th October 2016 for their programme, Who needs a bank branch? You can listen to the discussion here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07wtd72 (Hilary's interview about our research is about half way through).

 

Due to the announcement of the general election, Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, has been obliged to postpone his Finance Foundation annual lecture, which was to have been hosted by the Financial Times. We are working to reschedule the event and will post details as soon as these are available. 

 
 
The Finance Foundation Annual Lecture 2017

Local Ebbs and Global Flows

The creation of the Bretton Woods institutions after 1945 heralded an increasingly integrated and cooperative international monetary and financial system. Global flows of goods and services, money and capital and people and ideas rose rapidly to reach new high-water marks. Now there are concerns, the most serious in several generations, about the intellectual and practical pillars of this vision, with local measures contributing to an ebbing of global flows. Looking back, what is the evidence on the aggregate and distributional consequences of these various flows? And what might the future hold for them?

Andy Haldane
Chief Economist, Bank of England

Chaired by Lionel Barber, Editor, Financial Times
Response by Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times

6pm - 8pm

Date awaiting confirmation
 

The Financial Times, 1 Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HL
 
 
 
Please email Hilary Cooper with your name, position and organisation as soon as possible to reserve a place 

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Registration is between 6.00pm and 6.15pm at the Financial Times reception desk at 1 Southwark Bridge to allow time to transfer up to the conference suite for a prompt 6.30pm start.

You are invited to join us for drinks and canapés after the lecture.

Please note that after 7.30pm the only exit from the building will be the Park Street exit, accessed from the ground floor.

 
Copyright © 2017 The Finance Foundation, All rights reserved. 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Our next event on 21st November 2017 is with Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times and Eric Lonergan, macro hedge fund manager, economist and writer, in which they will look at the future of the UK economy as Brexit approaches. Please see the invitation with details of how to apply below,
 
 
 

Making sense of an uncertain world: a macro view of Brexit and beyond

 

The Finance Foundation is delighted to host our next thought leadership event supported by AIG Europe Ltd

 

 Tuesday 21st November 2017

6pm – 8pm

 

What are the issues and challenges for the UK economy as Brexit approaches and how might these be affected by decisions made or not made over the coming months? How robust is the rest of the EU moving forward and what will be required to adjust to the impact of Brexit on their own economies? What role might the US play in shaping post-Brexit outcomes?

Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times, will be presenting his views on the macroeconomic outlook as Brexit approaches, and the scenarios we may need to prepare for. He will be joined by Eric Lonergan, macro hedge fund manager, economist and writer, who will respond to Martin, providing his own take on the Brexit challenges ahead.

This will be followed by a moderated Q&A.

This event will be hosted in the Council Room at One Birdcage Walk, Westminster, London SW1H 9JJ.

Registration is from 6pm and the event will begin promptly at 6.30pm, with drinks served after the formal proceedings and the evening ending at approximately 8pm. Please click here for directions.

 

                                       RSVP to Hilary Cooper This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to secure your place.                                                         

                             www.thefinancefoundation.org.uk                                  

 
 
 

How can we help the over 80s stay in control of their day to day finances and overcome the barriers that they face? This under-researched and now rapidly growing group of consumers is the subject of a major new research project recently completed by The Finance Foundation. It has at its core qualitiative and quantitative data collected from focus groups and structured face to face intereviews with 175 people aged over 80 and a more extensive online survey of those, primarily family members, who provide informal support to them, undertaken in Octover and November 2015 by Opinium.

The project was directed by Hilary Cooper, who is currently preparing a report for publication on 30th September 2016, integrating the fieldwork results with a review of the literature and an analysis of relevant contextual data, arguing for the sector to recognise the unique challenges faced by the very elderly and take action to respond. A summary of the emerging findings is available here. Hilary has already provided a detailed response to the FCA's consultation paper DP/16/1, the precursor to a comprehensive strategy on the Ageing Population and Financial Services which the FCA expect to publish in 2017. She has also submitted evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Financial Exclusion, which can be read here. The Finance Foundation looks forward to engaging in further debate on this very important policy issue.