As anyone in the world of London-dominated insurance knows, it can appear to run by be a collection of middle class people in suits, with a few genuinely wealthy types at the top of the tree in various organisations. In many ways it isn’t surprising, given Britain’s history of class, school and University backgrounds largely defining your adult career path.
But there is a mood now for fundamental change, not only on diversity within companies by skin colour, age, gender, disability or sexual preference, but also by social class. This is long overdue and all credit for Zurich for doing something positive and setting up a taskforce to bring about some lasting changes to career progression. Here’s the word from Zurich;
Nigel Emson, Zurich’s Head of Strategy, has been appointed to an independent taskforce to improve socio-economic diversity at senior levels in financial and professional services across the UK.
The taskforce, commissioned by HM Treasury and BEIS and run by the City of London Corporation, aims to increase the number of people from non-professional backgrounds (defined by parental occupation at 14) reaching senior level positions. Mr Emson is one of five representatives from the insurance industry selected for the 37-strong advisory board, that will shape the taskforce’s work.
The announcement comes as research from social equality advocates, Bridge Group, shows that nearly nine in ten (89%) senior roles in financial services were held by people from professional backgrounds – nearly three times the UK working population.
The report also said that employees from lower socio-economic backgrounds take 25% longer to progress, despite no link to poorer performance.
Nigel Emson, Head of Strategy at Zurich, said: “It’s a real pleasure to join the advisory board as it’s a subject area close to my heart. Embracing socio-economic diversity in our sector and unlocking its latent productivity benefit is something we, at Zurich, are passionate about and are dedicated to making progress with alongside our industry peers. It is vital that we ensure talented people can excel in the financial services industry, irrespective of their background.”
The advisory board’s tasks include:
• informing – shaping the taskforce’s work
• influencing – raising awareness of the need to address socio-economic diversity and showcasing case studies of lived experiences
• improving – boosting socio-economic diversity at senior levels within their own organisations and beyond
The taskforce itself is formed of a diverse group of members both in financial and professional services and more broadly.
It will attempt to boost representation in the sector by leading an industry consultation on how government, regulators and sector bodies can incentivise firms to take action to improve socio-economic diversity.
In addition, it will create a membership body for financial services, focused on progression. Employers can use this to benchmark against their peers and share best practice on delivering socio-economic diversity at senior levels.
The taskforce will also produce a productivity analysis, to build the business case for increasing socio-economic diversity at senior levels in financial and professional services. The City of London Corporation will report back on the findings of the taskforce by November 2022, with the first formal meeting due to take place in May 2021.
Full details of this taskforce can be found via www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/whogetsahead