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Creating a buzz: Leading the push for diversity in financial services

Diversity concept image with figurines

In this guest article, Romi Savova, CEO at PensionBee, discusses the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

It’s no secret that the financial services industry has a history of inadequate diversity. To this day, it remains dominated by men, with minority groups only in a small fraction of top positions.

While the setting of clear targets has been viewed as an effective remedy, countless charters, and pledges later, notable progress is yet to be seen. However, there is now renewed hope for change with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)’s proposal of new targets and increased transparency for diversity initiatives.

From targets to transformation

While it’s encouraging to see fresh efforts to increase diversity from the regulators, it’s important to understand why it’s necessary.

First, countless studies have highlighted that diverse teams are likely to make better decisions and have increased job satisfaction. Representative teams can also help create more inclusive financial products, by recognising the value of diverse perspectives.

While implementing targets can help address diversity, it’s important to consider inclusion separately. A company could be diverse in its composition but could fall short of being inclusive to different people’s circumstances. For example, focusing solely on meeting diversity quotas, such as those related to gender or ethnicity, often overlooks the needs of others.

We strive to ensure inclusion by creating a culture of respect, value, and belonging for all. This includes implementing inclusive policies such as remote working for almost all roles, the availability of part-time work and reasonable adjustments. This is important for those who combine work with care responsibilities or have needs that aren’t met by standard arrangements.

We also recognise that everyone should have the opportunity to spend quality time bonding with their child. That is why our industry-leading Parental Leave Policy offers 110 days of full pay to all new parents, regardless of gender.

Inclusivity unleashed

To facilitate opportunities for our colleagues to share and learn from each other’s lived experiences, we introduced executive sponsors and volunteers to build extensive internal engagement programmes. These cultural initiatives also help shine a light on any unconscious biases we may have and help us to learn about each other.

Our recent events included a talk from a Cultural Theorist and UK Black History Educator, who led a discussion on the workplace and afro hair. We also held a family off-site social, where colleagues brought their families, to bring awareness to the many different perspectives of parenthood.

When I reflect on our company culture, it’s no coincidence that we have diverse representation at all levels of the business. More than half of our employees identify as female and minority genders, compared to just 17% in UK financial services (according to the FCA). In addition, over 40% self-identify their racial or ethnic background as other than white.

Our commitment to both diversity and inclusion is rooted in the recognition that people are central to everything we do. Even our name, inspired by the harmonious teamwork of bees, underscores the idea that success emerges from understanding and celebrating that everyone has different strengths.

As a leader, I firmly believe in the economic power and social importance of diversity and inclusion. My advice for business leaders is simple: be open to change, listen to your colleagues and don’t get stuck in your ways. You will be pleasantly surprised at the positive impact change could have on your business, employees, and the world at large.

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