Financial services isn't a sector traditionally known for its diversity.
The same is true of the technology sector. The words ‘innovation’, ‘progress’ and ‘big money’ spring to mind, but not ‘diversity’.
Staying with tech for a moment, for decades all the world’s major tech centres have been dominated by white, well-educated, middle-class men.
This is largely the result of historic and inherent bias in the way we view jobs in the tech sector and how firms have recruited for them.
Firms tend to recruit maths, physics and computer science graduates from red brick universities, and these universities have tended to place men into tech firm roles instead of women.
It was a perpetual cycle based on the misconception that these subjects are more suited to boys, which is why there are so few women in tech, proportionally speaking.
This dates back to the 1970s and 80s and has compounded over time. Unfortunately, there are still people even today who share this outdated view.
Ultimately, what this means is tech firms are packed with people who look the same, think the same and have similar backgrounds. Sound familiar?
This doesn't encourage diversity of thought, which can severely hinder a firm's progress. If your team all have the same backgrounds and life experiences, then you will get roughly the same answers.
On top of that, what use is it having a team full of, say, computer science graduates from Oxbridge if your target audience is something altogether different?
Before I go on, I must say there's been a dramatic improvement in terms of diversity across a number of sectors in recent years, tech and financial services included.
But we are still arguably decades away from being able to say our sector is truly diverse.
However, that needn’t be the case.
If firms continue to be more engaged in the recruitment process and put in the appropriate measures to encourage diversity, we could get there much quicker.
Of course, it’s difficult – and at Redington we don't have all the answers.
We also don't believe in diversity for diversity’s sake; we will always hire the candidate we feel is best for the role.
But we do believe you won't find the best candidate if you keep looking in the same places.
With that in mind, I have set out below some of the things we have learnt during the process of trying to make our own workforce more diverse.
Try to remove any inherent biases from your interview process.
We found we focused far too much on weaknesses and challenges in our technical assessments, instead of exploring the submissions that came into us in a more balanced way.
This typically impacted women more than men, which led to a recruitment bias.
Once we addressed this, we started seeing positive progress through the process from people with a broader range of skills and backgrounds, which is exactly what we wanted.
The wording in your job adverts is absolutely crucial - evidence shows that a huge amount of unconscious bias is transferred from them.
For example, if a job advert contains a long list of required skills and experience, studies have shown that men will ‘have a punt’ whereas women will typically be put off.
We talk instead about what a typical day entails and what we can offer the candidate.
We also use phrases such as “you’re likely to have” and “you might also have” when addressing skill requirements.
Your idea of recruitment may or may not be attending jobs fares at Oxbridge.
But if it is, you will only get one type of candidate. By casting your net as wide as you can, you will get a more diverse list of candidates applying for your roles.
In fact, some of our more successful hires haven't been graduates at all.
We've had great success working with coding bootcamps such as Mayden and apprenticeship schemes at Ada College which, like us, are committed to improving diversity, particularly in the tech sector.
Building community engagement
Go out and get to know your local area.
Organise meet-ups, local events and coffee mornings so people know what you do and what you stand for.
By doing so you will not only pick up useful connections, you will also get an idea of where the untapped talent is in the region.
Even at this last stage of the recruitment process, we found the way we worded our contracts, especially with reference to flexible working hours and locations, was a stumbling block.
We are largely location-agnostic and are very willing for people to work hours that suit them and their family.
But our previous contracts didn't reflect this, which we realised would have put many people off working for us.