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Gender diversity in financial services in 2019
There has been a lot of talk amongst senior leaders in the financial services sector wanting to create gender parity, but what the industry needs is action. We understand how important equality within the workplace is and know what the challenges are, but is it realistic to achieve a 50/50 gender split and how can we achieve this?
At PageGroup, we work hard to challenge our clients’ ideas of what talent looks like and encourage them to think outside the box when making hiring decisions. We have recently placed a number of senior women from non-financial services backgrounds into different banking groups. A professional from BT, for example, will have experience of working in a large matrix organisation, understand the importance of customer focus and experience, and will look at costs through a lens that may be new to a bank. While these professionals will need different support compared to someone that has banking knowledge, in return they will bring a different voice, perspective and insight which is the reason for having a diverse workforce.
Paul Lloyd-Jones, CFO at Castle Trust had this to say about hiring with a D&I focus: “There is always a temptation to play it safe when hiring. Working with Page Executive challenged me to ensure that I was hiring complementary skills to remedy our collective weaknesses and build a better team as a whole.”
Diversity is about avoiding groupthink, ensuring different voices have the platform to be heard and to succeed, judging success on output and not facetime. Make brave hiring decisions not just on gender but on gender identity, ethical values, sexual orientation, social class, physical ability, and the different attributes that make each of us unique.
Top tips for hiring and retaining diverse executive talent
Offer true flexible working – to both men and women. Although some companies offer flexibility, working from home is often frowned upon. Lead from the front, celebrate women and men who achieve great things while working reduced hours. Be open to earlier leaving times to allow parents, for example, to attend a school play, parents’ consultations, or sports day etc.
Role model choices – (male and/or female) should represent the values that diverse talent pools, including women, aspire to. Chose role models who are openly juggling a busy work and home life, and are open about the challenges that this brings, or someone who is focusing purely on her career and is happy with those choices
Ask female employees to take an active part in the hiring of new talent – from the writing of the role profile/job advertisement to the interview process. At PageGroup, we carried out an experiment whereby two of our consultants, one male and one female, created a job advertisement based on the same role profile. The one written by the female received more female applications.
Adapt your recruitment processes – not everyone responds the same way to certain interview styles. Assuming that everyone will be able to sell themselves in 30 minutes or perform their best in a panel style interview initially could mean you miss out on great people.
Global Head of FP&A, Standard Chartered had this to say about working with Page Executive:
“After engaging with Nina on our first recruitment, it was clear to me that I had identified a trusted partner that I could rely on to rebuild my leadership team.
“Nina is the consummate professional, carefully balancing the needs of her candidates and that of her clients. Nina has helped me and Standard Chartered fill a number of finance leadership roles with high calibre talent – what I like particularly about Nina is her frank and direct approach. She is excellent at reading through the roles I am recruiting and anticipating cultural fit.”
State D&I objectives – highlight the company vision and D&I goals. Promote this messaging both internally and externally.
Introduce a mentoring programme – this should be available to all, and allow women in senior positions to offer guidance and advice to junior women starting their career with your company.
Offer paternity leave – an organisation that promotes gender equality will also be attractive to female talent.
Be brave enough to NOT hire in your own image – try to focus on future potential, intellectual ability, and leadership skills, as opposed to specific experience and knowledge. This will enable you to broaden the pool of candidates that you are choosing from.
Encourage everyone to judge contribution based on weekly output as opposed to daily - as professionals that work flexibly, for example, will be working different hours to their peers.
Company outings/team building exercises – try to look at gender-neutral activities that are inclusive. A trip to watch the rugby or a round of golf or drinks evening may be less appealing to someone who has just come back from maternity leave.
When someone is coming back from maternity leave – ask them how they feel, what they anticipate may be hard when coming back, and what they are looking forward to. Some may relish a new challenge, new role or promotion whereas others may prefer to come back to something they know.
If you are in a business that actively wants to improve its D&I agenda, or if you are wanting to develop your career further, please get in touch.
Associate Partner, Page Executive
T: +44 207 645 1413
E: [email protected]