Passionate about inclusion

The Lens is just back from a ‘diversity & inclusion’ workshop. We met CEOs, team heads and new starters to discuss ways in which the topic could progress during 2020 in the asset management industry.

The workshop highlighted significant strides being made across the industry as firms seek to attract and retain talent. This is particularly important at a time when asset management and other financial services are competing with fintech firms, who offer an altogether more ‘Silicon Valley’ experience (think bean bags and table football).

Efforts by the industry include flexible working patterns, the mentoring of new starters, and encouragement for people returning to work typically after maternity (or indeed paternity) leave. It is notable that Standard Life Aberdeen recently introduced a new parental leave policy allowing all parents, regardless of gender or family set up, to take nine months of full paid leave. The firm said this set a precedent across the industry.

The kind of inclusion issues faced by managers are largely the stuff of life that we as adults should intrinsically be able to navigate. Sadly, though, HR policy guidelines don’t always make it easy, or so the Lens heard.

For smaller firms at the workshop it was evident that it can be easier to get inclusion issues recognised and put firmly on the agenda. But it was said that larger firms tend to have more problems with implementation, due partly to managing businesses across different geographies and cultures.

The view was also aired that larger firms sometimes believe they may lose their competitive edge by sharing best practise ideas within the field of diversity. Inclusion, then, is still not yet an effortless exercise. It was apparent from the workshop that the economic benefits of inclusion were recognised – but also that leaders at the corporate grassroots level must approach the topic with bags of passion to make change happen.