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Investment banks lead on commitment to workplace diversity in the City

 At the other end of the scale, employees at insurance companies are the least convinced of the benefits of diversity.

City staff were asked to grade the importance of workplace diversity from 1 to 5, with 1 signifying & lsquo;Not important’ and 5 signifying & lsquo;Very important’. Almost 60% of those working for Investment Banks (59%) said that they felt workplace diversity was either & lsquo;important’ or & lsquo;very important’.  By contrast, just 39% of insurance staff said the same.


Percentage of City staff
who rated workplace diversity
to be & lsquo;important’ or & lsquo;very important’

Investment Banks




Private banking and Wealth management


Payments, Clearing, Custody and Counterparty


Retail Banks and Building Societies


Non-Financial Services


Investment Management


Fund Services


Corporate Broking or Stockbroking


Exchanges and Trading Platforms




Adam Jackson, managing director at Astbury Marsden comments, “Investment banks pride themselves on being fiercely meritocratic – they will take candidates exclusively from top-performing universities and business schools, regardless of race, gender or background.

“The global nature of investment banking and its client base means that workplace diversity is considered a real asset. Customer experience and overall quality of work across diverse international markets is likely to suffer if the culture is too monolithic.

“Other types of financial services firms, particularly insurance companies, appear to be less convinced of the benefits of workforce diversity.

“However, in the insurance market things are changing - there has been a big influx of talent from France and Germany, where the sector has traditionally had more prominence than in the UK. This is likely to shake things up if the sector is able to recruit more widely, the benefits of diversity will soon become clear.”

Astbury Marsden says that commitment to workplace diversity also varies depending on employees’ gender and in what area of the organisation they work.

Male employees expressed a lower level of concern about workplace diversity than their female counterparts. 62% of women said that they feel workplace diversity is either & lsquo;important’ or & lsquo;very important’ whilst just 49% of men said the same.

Employees working in Strategy and HR were shown to be particularly convinced of the benefits of workplace diversity. 80% of City workers in HR and 61% of City staff in Strategy said that they feel diversity is either & lsquo;important’ or & lsquo;very important’.

At the other end of the scale, those working in sales & distribution, internal audit and finance departments were shown to be among the most indifferent. 65% of City employees in sales & distribution, 58% in internal audit and 52% in finance said that they were either & lsquo;indifferent’ or considered workforce diversity to be unimportant.

Adam Jackson comments, “The varying level of commitment by job function is not necessarily that surprising. Those working in strategy are thinking broadly about the future of the companies for which they work and so are perhaps more likely to identify potential advantages linked to diversity.  If a firm is expanding overseas or establishing links with foreign companies, for instance, having staff from a wide range of backgrounds with the right cultural sensitivity, and the right language skills, is likely to be a valuable asset.

“Firms should take the time to communicate how important diversity is to employees at all levels of an organisation- including those in areas such as finance and sales where the wider benefits may not be so obvious.”

When assessing their employers’ commitment to ensuring workplace diversity, City staff say that focus on race and gender is significantly stronger than the attention paid to recruiting and promoting talented staff regardless of age or disability.

Jackson comments, “Race and gender diversity are receiving attention and firms should be praised for the progress they have made in encouraging more ethnic minorities and women into the workplace. Businesses need to continue progression in these fields, but also look to improve other core areas of diversity.”

Want to make sure you're doing all you can for diversity in the workplace? Come along to RI's Diversity in Recruitment Conference!


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