The direction of travel: PIMFA puts D&I under the microscope

by | Sep 29, 2022

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Ahead of PIMFA’s second Diversity and Inclusion awards later this month, Liz Field, Chief Executive at PIMFA, shares a sneak peek with IFA Magazine at some of the themes which this year’s awards have revealed.

October will see the second iteration of PIMFA’s Diversity and Inclusion Awards. So, as our judges ponder on this year’s exceptional list of entries, in this article I’m taking a look at the common themes they are identifying, as well as the general direction of travel around this important issue.

Rebecca D. Owers, Head of the Wealth Centre of Excellence at HSBC, found that, over the last 12 months, there has been visible focus from firms on Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (IDE) across a broad agenda, with more transparency and initiatives. Looking at this subject holistically, as well as at the nuances of where themes interlock, is increasingly important in ensuring that we don’t leave anyone behind.

There is also a growing realisation of the role of People Managers in setting the team climate and organisational culture. It is particularly interesting to see how firms are tackling these challenges by taking action and, importantly, the results they are achieving.

Strong evidence of progress

Claire Limon, from The Openwork Partnership, found that the quality of the entries has markedly improved, with many different activities and actions in support of improved diversity and inclusion. The strongest entries for her showed progression over the years with improving results, support from ‘the top’ and evidence in the form of attachments to support the award entries. This helps to showcase what the firms are doing.

As to the overall direction of travel, there appear to be four areas where improvements are consistently being made. I’ll reflect on those below:

  1. Social mobility

The ability for individuals to apply for, secure and succeed in roles above their social strata – is becoming a key focus for the IDE agenda. Only in very recent years has it been talked about, and it is often an important driver for inequality in the workplace. Progress Together has recently been incorporated as a result of the work of the Socio-economic diversity in Financial Services taskforce, of which PIMFA is a supporter. We look forward to seeing what practical guidance can emerge to help firms turn the dial.

In a fair world, jobs should be available to everyone, irrespective of class or socio-economic background and organisations are now putting more emphasis on attracting applicants from different backgrounds and ensuring a fair selection process.

Despite this, the lack of social mobility continues to be an issue and the numbers speak for themselves, with 60% of those in professional and managerial jobs still coming from a white professional background and only 34% coming from ethnic minorities and/or a lower socio-economic background. Whilst change is happening, there is more to be achieved here.

  1. Embedding IDE into corporate culture

As the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda evolves, customers and stakeholders are putting more pressure on companies to hardwire IDE into every business decision. Also, as the dominant demographic in the workforce, Generation Z and Millennials pay more attention to companies’ IDE strategies. In the war for talent, we will be left behind unless we show visible and demonstrable support and evidence of what this profession is doing.

A growing number of businesses are already voluntarily disclosing their IDE metrics, ensuring that the workplace has equitable opportunities for all types of employees.

Organisations are increasingly being evaluated on how well they perform against criteria beyond financial performance – measures that represent different dimensions of stakeholder capitalism.

Whilst we still need to stop seeing IDE as just another box to be ticked, evidence suggests that this is now increasingly becoming part of our sector’s culture and purpose.

  1. Publishing EPG data

Currently, there is no legal obligation for companies to publish their ethnicity pay gap (EPG), unlike the requirement to disclose the gender pay gap for companies with over 250 employees. Many organisations, however, voluntarily chose to publish their EPG in the past year.

Organisations see this as an opportunity to understand racial inequality at their workplace. Most importantly, they can use this information to drive action to improve their IDE strategy and reduce disparities.

  1. The regulatory environment

The demand here is that regulated firms and listed companies foster cultures that are inclusive so that staff can share their diverse experiences and backgrounds, and that companies have more diverse representation at all levels.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has indicated that the use of data will increasingly become central to this and Theresa Heaton, Head of Change at Brown Shipley and another of the judges for this year’s awards, has highlighted this as one of the key areas of improvement for this year’s entrants, saying; “A real challenge that we are facing, industry wide, is the definition and collation of D,E & I data; applicants in the PIMFA awards this year demonstrated deep thinking on the purpose of data collection and provided a range of examples and methods of collection. Businesses who were able to show what they were doing with the data have set a high standard for other applicants.”

A consultation document from the FCA is expected soon and, with ESG gaining traction worldwide, this could be a global trendsetter. The FCA has highlighted D,E & I as a key component of ESG – both in its own right, and as an enabler of creative solutions to other environmental and social challenges. By embracing this, our industry is providing inspiration and concrete examples of what can be achieved, and we look forward to showcasing this.

About Liz Field

Liz joined PIMFA (then known as the Wealth Management Association) as Chief Executive in 2014.

She has 30 years financial services experience, 19 of which as a Chief Executive. She successfully transformed and advised several businesses through redefining strategy, re-branding, change management and inspirational leadership, creating profitable businesses.

Liz has substantive experience of people and corporate culture risk, regulatory knowhow across the industry – banking, insurance and wealth management and providing good practice guidelines for the industry to adopt.

She is an accredited coach and industry leader encouraging collaborative participation of diverse.


Click here for more information about PIMFA

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