Making diversity a reality

Realising the power and potential of a changing workforce.

The nature of the talent needed to sustain success in financial services (FS) is changing and the competition to recruit and retain people with the right capabilities is increasing.

FS organisations aren’t just looking to attract seasoned FS professionals, but also the more diverse and hybrid types of talent demanded in a sector facing the disruptive impact of new technology, ever more complex regulation and increasing competition from new entrants.

Diversity in all its forms – from gender, generation, ethnicity, sexuality and disability to people with a broader range of skills, experiences and industry backgrounds – is a vital element of the changing talent focus within FS. As a matter of fact, our research suggests that diversity is moving up the boardroom agenda – nearly three-quarters of the FS industry leaders taking part in PwC’s 18th Annual global CEO survey have a strategy to promote diversity and inclusiveness (59%) or plan to adopt one (14%).

The problem is that these high-level intentions aren’t being translated into real improvements in the prospects
for people from underrepresented groups within many FS organisations. If we look at the status of women, for example, half of the some 600 female millennials (women born between 1980 and 1995) working in FS who took part in a global survey carried out by PwC in 2015 believe that promotion is biased towards men. More than 70% believe that organisations talk about diversity, but opportunities are not equal for all. If people believe that their aspirations won’t be met, they will simply choose other organisations or industries.

So why do the barriers still exist? Many of the biases that hold people back are actually unconscious. By their very nature, these blind spots can’t be tackled by statements of intent alone. As we outline in this paper, it is important to identify where, how and why these biases materialise and develop systematic strategies to tackle them. To create the buy-in and momentum within the organisation needed to make diversity a reality, it’s important for the board to articulate why it’s a vital competitive issue and reinforce this by how they behave within the leadership team. Get this right, and your business will not only be in a better position to attract and retain top talent, but also enhance innovation, customer satisfaction and overall business performance. 

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