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Making diversity a reality – spotlight on Financial Services

24/10/2016 by Andy Winterburgh

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THIS is an important and insightful report by PWC highlighting the both the rise of diversity up the board agenda and the importance for the board to articulate to the organisation why it’s a vital competitive issue.

Your board wants diversity. Your clients and employees expect it. But while progress is being made, there is more we want to do with regards to diversifying the financial services (FS) industry. And among the biggest obstacles we face are preferences and prejudices that people may not even be aware of, such as unconscious bias.

Research by neuroscientists identifies that we’re all susceptible to unconscious bias. First impressions do indeed count. Research also identifies we’re more likely to trust people of a similar age, appearance and background to ourselves which often leads management to favour people like themselves when picking out candidates for hiring and promotion. These responses can be quite natural, just one of the shortcuts our brains use to speed up decision making in a complex world. But in business, unconscious bias can be a blind spot and when left unmanaged, organisations may miss out on the opportunity to recruit and develop people with cutting-edge talents, innovative new ideas and a broader range of personal and professional experience.  

Many of these individuals may have been traditionally under-represented in FS management, including women, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities.

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Tackling unconscious bias

So how can you tackle unconscious biases?  As we explore in our new report, Making diversity a reality, you can make people more aware of their potential blind spots and develop ways to mitigate them. This includes tracking whether hiring and promotion are equal and, if not, determining whether potential biases may be at play. We refer to this process as ‘creating tension in the system’. If, for example, the proportion of men promoted is significantly greater than the proportion of highly rated men eligible for promotion, can it be justified?  If not, what more can be done?

Word soon spreads

The brightest and best candidates actively seek out organisations that promote genuine diversity and will look to their personal and professional networks to find out whether your business is one of them. Making diversity a demonstrable reality in your business can therefore boost your employer brand and give you a powerful edge in a competitive job market.

Find out more in our Making diversity a reality report by clicking here.

Jon Terry

Global FS HR Consulting Leader

Jon Jon Terry is a member of both PwC’s global and UK financial services leadership team. He is based in our London office with responsibility for the people strategy for approximately 45,000 global financial services specialists.

Jon is also the market leader of PwC’s global Financial Services HR Consulting practice, supporting organisations on their HR challenges. Jon specialises in all aspects of employee motivation and pay. Jon has worked for PwC for over 25 years and works exclusively advising financial services organisations on their HR and reward issues. Jon has extensive experience in advising on all aspects of motivation and pay including roles, responsibilities, performance management and remuneration.