Diversity has become a significant talking point in the financial sector. The predominately white, male-dominated industry, which is often slow to incorporate inclusive change, has sparked conversations regarding certain disparities in the workplace.

Compared to other industries like retail, leisure, and FMCG, financial services seem to lag behind. Asset Management is no exception. A senior financial regulator in the US admitted that the sector is “not doing a very good job” to improve diversity and inclusion.

Amid the concerns surrounding the effort to create positive change, it is essential to examine the approaches of high profile individuals within the sector to encourage diversity within the workplace.

Overcoming stubbornness to change

Change is often slow to come, and unconscious perceptions can be challenging to shift. In remarkably homogeneous working environments, the necessity of a varied workforce amid reviewing existing employment policies can take a while to feature on the agenda.

Several senior leaders within the financial sector have commented on evidence suggesting a diverse workforce makes better decisions. In asset management magazine FundsEurope , Catherine Jones, senior manager at Capital Group, said: “There’s so much research showing that building diversity into your process and teams lead to better business outcomes. Catalyst has published material supporting that view, and KPMG

regularly sends out research papers too.”In the same article, Kathryn Woodley, global business manager at Allianz Global Investors added: “It’s widely seen that way now, and there is evidence to back it up, but quantifying is still an issue. Investment management is a numbers industry, and there isn’t enough research yet to interrogate the numbers fully and push back on any scepticism.”

Focusing on inclusion

An increasing number of companies have taken steps to ensure that they’re emphasising diversity within their recruitment channels and data analysis. Schroders has taken steps to collect diversity profile data, review maternity and paternity working policies, and roll out digital learning opportunities to all staff.

While there has been an increasing effort to resolve diversity inequalities, positive action on the inclusion side has sometimes fallen by the wayside. Astute leaders within the asset management community recognise the importance of inclusivity, ensuring that no one feels alienated.

Changes to the recruitment process to accommodate neurodiverse individuals and in-house amendments are examples of this. Marisa Hall, Director of Thinking Ahead Institute, commented: “We took on six students from Investment 20/20’s Think Investment programme. I didn’t realise how intimidating the City could be. One student refused to take off her coat because everybody was really dressed up as we had an in-house event.

That was a lesson. People are not applying to work in our firms because they are scared of what people will think of them.”

Understanding diversity gives a business an edge

There are a number of advantages diverse, inclusive asset management companies acquire. Positive PR being one of them.

Business leaders mindful of unconscious biases embrace the best, most qualified candidates for their positions and reap the rewards, such as a wider talent pool. 

A firm with employee benefits and a high salary will likely attract the most capable candidates. But they’ll still have their head turned by progressive companies where they can grow, be accepted, and take on challenges.

One of the most talked about advantages of embracing a diverse workforce is the financial returns. A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean

Companies that take the time to embrace a myriad of beliefs, experiences, and backgrounds soon feel the benefits of fresh ideas. An overused buzzword in the corporate sphere is “innovation”. But a recent study indicated businesses that reach high score indicators of diversity are notably more innovative.

A homogenous group of people working towards common goals or seeking to expand their understanding may fall short due to the similarity of problem-solving approaches, thought patterns, and life experience. A heterogeneous gathering of employees can bring new outlooks, various problem-solving methods, and unique perspectives leading to real breakthroughs.

Working with recruiters that understand diversity and inclusion

Recognising the issues at hand is one thing for asset management leaders. Creating recruitment strategies that attract the best candidates, improve reputation, and ensuring corporate success can be a considerable challenge.

We recommend working with recruiters who understand the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Working with those who want to diminish disparities within the asset management industry can aid your business growth and reputation, as well as improving working conditions for existing staff members and prospective candidates. 

If you’re a leader in the asset management space and want to tackle the lack of diversity within your organisation, we recommend embracing the change. Try not to become complacent and stubborn in your working environment. Although we realise it’s easy to become stuck in a rut and unconscious perceptions are difficult to shift, welcoming the change will significantly benefit your business.

Understanding the importance of D&I will give your business an edge. You’ll have access to a broader talent pool,and as a result, a wider breadth of knowledge and experience. 

You’ll also see an increase in financial returns too. 

If you’re unsure where to start, we can help! Book a call with Berkeley Croft today. 

If you’d like some more information, check out our latest eGuide on diversity, too.

In the meantime, get it in touch to learn how we can help you attract exceptional talent from more diverse backgrounds.

The Berkeley Croft team