A Balancing Act: Diversifying the Talent Pipeline in Financial and Professional Services

In PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey 2015, one of the key findings was that ‘talent diversity and inclusiveness are no longer considered ‘soft’ issues, but rather as crucial competitive capabilities’. Additionally, of the CEOs whose companies have a formal D&I strategy, 85% think it has improved the bottom line. So, are companies that actively commit themselves to diverse leadership more successful?

Research certainly shows that companies committing to diversity are better able to attract and retain top talent, have greater employee satisfaction, a breadth of business models (plus global mind-set) and as a result, increased returns. According to panellists at the EY (Re) insurance Outlook event in Bermuda back in December, ‘the insurance industry must increase diversity in its talent pool to drive innovation’. In a fast changing financial services industry, it could be suggested that diversity is critical in an organisation’s ability to adapt, innovate, prosper, grow and succeed in the market. It is certainly evident that the diversity of perspectives, cultures, experiences, genders, age all play a leading role in this success.

Alongside this, a recent report published by McKinsey & Company found that a mere 12% of members in executive teams within the UK are women. This suggests that women remain underrepresented at the height of global corporations and most businesses (including outside of FS) must do more to take full advantage of the opportunity that diverse leadership teams represent. This is also applicable to the talent pipeline – attracting, developing, mentoring and retaining the next generation of global leaders at all levels of corporations. Given the higher returns that diversity is expected to bring, investing now will empower financial services organisations in the long run.

Ultimately, diversity should be a mentality within Financial Services (and businesses as a whole); not just a strategic imperative. Combining diversity with an inclusive culture will truly drive added value to organisations. The question is, how can financial services organisations provide a working environment and culture that both recognises and values difference? Perhaps by building diversity into their core business values and embedding it into the organisation as a cultural attribute to achieve operational goals. Additionally, mentoring and developing future leaders’ programmes, building women in business networks and supporting a transformational change will encourage diversity and inclusiveness.

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