By Liz Field, Chief Executive, PIMFA
The Commonwealth Games currently being held in Birmingham are a graphic demonstration of what can be achieved in the D&I space by people with the will to succeed and the work ethic to back that up.
Competitors of all races and beliefs, able and disabled, striving together to achieve excellence in their chosen fields in an atmosphere of tolerance and friendship, are an example to us all. However, the fact that there is always more to do was highlighted by openly gay diver Tom Daley being chosen to deliver the Queen’s baton as part of the opening ceremony, highlighting the fact that over half of the Commonwealth countries represented at the Games still criminalise same-sex relationships.
The football world has also stepped up. Despite paltry backing compared to their male counterparts, England’s female players have changed perceptions of the sport forever, in this country at least, by winning the European Championship in some style. The last time England won a major trophy – the World Cup in 1966 – women were banned from even playing the game.
But, digging deeper we find that, last year, the England Women’s team captain was paid £200,000 – her male counterpart, Harry Kane, earns that and more every week, making the point that, while excellent progress is being made, the pace and extent of change being achieved, even in such high-profile examples, is simply not good or fast enough, notwithstanding the need to follow the money to understand why there is this difference.
Thankfully, our industry is faring better, but still not as much as we would like. Research published by PwC in March of this year on Year 4 gender pay gap reporting for 2021/22 shows a median average pay gap for the financial services sector of 26.6%, compared to 12.1% across all other UK sectors. While not great, this represents a drop of 3% over the last four years.
This illustrates the need for more action and accountability and, as we found with the results from our inaugural D&I Awards last year, our sector is not shying away from its responsibilities, with key bodies and firms developing action-based initiatives and working collaboratively on the issues involved.
Recently, we published two reports, in conjunction with Cicero/AMO, as a follow-up to the awards, the first of which outlines the regulatory expectations of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as they are likely due to be applied to the wealth management and advice industry in the future, which draw several important conclusions about the need to improve diversity and inclusion within the industry and the regulatory and commercial reasons for doing so.
The second draws on the experiences and work already being carried out by firms across the financial services sector, containing case studies of best practices from across the industry and a series of recommendations on how companies can improve, or begin their journey towards improving, diversity and inclusion within organisations.
This also supports the many studies over the last few years which have shown that having females on boards has been associated with improved financial performance. Indeed, a report by the Financial Reporting Council estimates that having at least one woman on the board could increase stock prices by 10% in just one year.
The wider aspects of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are also playing an increasing role when it comes to industry recruitment, where even flexibility and high salaries are not sufficient in the post-pandemic world and recruitment and retention are increasingly about hearts and minds.
Modern employees seek a greater sense of purpose and value alignment with their employer and will leave organisations if they feel unappreciated, where they cannot relate to senior management or where their values are not aligned with those of the business, especially in relation to environmental and social issues.
Collectively, this shows that there is more work for all of us if we are to make a meaningful difference and, as with our sports sector, the challenges that remain will largely be solved if we address them together as an industry.
PIMFA’s Diversity & Inclusion Awards aim to celebrate the people and organisations that do work hard to ensure our industry better represents the wider society it aims to serve. We are making great strides to equip ourselves for a diverse and inclusive future and we are making progress. I look forward to celebrating that progress with those shortlisted and our winners in October.
PIMFA is delighted to announce the shortlist for its second Diversity & Inclusion Awards, being held on 19th October. Book a table here.