IA launches social mobility plan to reach diverse new talent

By Charlotte Richards

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Sep 26, 2019

The Investment Association has published a new report aimed at encouraging investment management firms to promote social mobility in their recruitment practices.

To mark National Inclusion Week, the report, ‘Tackling the class ceiling’, sets out five recommendations to ensure managers attract and develop diverse talent from different classes and socio-economic backgrounds.

The IA’s chief executive Chris Cummings says: “Great initiatives exist to promote ethnic, gender, and LGBT+ diversity. As custodians of £7.7trn invested by millions of people from the UK and beyond, and with three-quarters of UK households using the services of an investment manager, we know we need to look more like the people whose money we manage.”

In a survey of 16-24 year olds for the IA’s early careers service Investment 20/20, it saw just under half (46 per cent) of respondents say they would not like to work in financial services, with a third of the group expressing concern that the industry was “not for people like me”. The same amount (34 per cent) felt jobs would be too stressful, while 28 per cent felt the industry “lacks social good”.

The IA report recommends:

• Ending bias in recruitment by moving away from only considering degree qualifications, and instead taking account of other qualifications and life experiences that paint a fuller picture of applicants’ qualities and capabilities. 

• Recruiting for potential rather than just polish, by avoiding focus on the way someone dresses or speaks at interview. The industry could also reduce the number of requirements asked for in a job description to the essentials, as relevant skills can also be gained after employment and through training. 

• Committing to mobility in the workplace and highlighting successful role-models for people from different socio-economic backgrounds. Consider measuring the social background of staff as well, so you can spot a ‘class pay gap’ or similar inequalities in your workforce. 

• Expanding the talent pool by broadening outreach to schools, FE colleges and universities outside the range of standard elite institutions, to reach diverse young people from all backgrounds and encourage them to consider investment management as open to them. 

• Providing more entry points to the industry, rather than relying on traditional graduate recruitment cycles. The industry could create more avenues for people to enter straight from school, or transfer later in their careers, and accommodate them in doing so by providing financial support where necessary.

Cummings adds: “I grew up in a mining town in Yorkshire and for too many people from a similar background without networks or connections, a job in financial services can feel out of reach or even inaccessible.

“Putting diversity at the heart of recruitment and retention practices can widen horizons, produce better investment outcomes and discourage group think. Our new report puts diversity of social class front and centre, through five key steps employers can take to harness social mobility and ensure firms have diversity in all its forms hardwired into their DNA.”

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