Taskforce aims to improve social mobility in City of London
The Treasury is aiming to reduce the number of senior City roles held by people from privileged backgrounds, amid fears that those from less affluent families are being left behind.
The Treasury and business department are launching an independent taskforce – led by the City of London Corporation – to address a lack of socioeconomic diversity across financial and professional services, including banks, investment funds, accountancy and law firms.
Nearly nine in 10 senior roles are held by people from privileged families, according to new research from the City of London Corporation. That is in stark contrast with the wider UK workforce, where employees from higher socioeconomic backgrounds – based on their parents’ occupations – make up a third of the population.
The group will start by launching an industry-wide consultation on how companies can be coaxed into boosting socioeconomic diversity, potentially through incentives. They will also create a new membership body that will help companies benchmark their progress and share strategies for tackling their own lack of diversity.
Conservative MP and City minister John Glen said its efforts would “help to level up the UK”.
The City of London’s research found that just under half of senior City roles were held by white men who attended an independent or selective state school.
Meanwhile, staff from lower socioeconomic backgrounds faced greater barriers when they tried to move up the corporate ladder, taking 25% longer to progress despite no evidence of poor performance. Those same workers were also putting their productivity and wellbeing at risk by trying to fit in with the culture of their more privileged peers, the survey found.
The City of London Corporation’s policy chair, Catherine McGuinness, who is heading the Treasury taskforce, said the report was a “wake-up call” for the industry, which is still trying to shake its reputation for being an “old boys’ club”. The industry is also coming to terms with a lack of racial diversity, highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Talented individuals should be able to succeed in financial and professional services on their own merit regardless of socioeconomic background. Unfortunately, for many people that does not yet seem to be a reality,” she said.
Sarah Atkinson, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation charity, also welcomed the launch. “The plan proposed is broad and ambitious, which it needs to be to reverse the City’s deep-rooted preference for polish over potential – the measure of success will be whether the commitment from government and firms is there to deliver long-term change.”
She believes similar efforts should be extended to other sectors – including those that have benefited from the pandemic, such as tech, gaming, and pharmaceuticals.
Labour MP and shadow City minister Pat McFadden said: “Anything that can improve social mobility and break down class, gender or racial barriers is to be welcomed. There is still too much of British life where people don’t get a fair chance because of their background.
“When that kind of thing happens, it is not only deeply unfair, but also an enormous waste of talent. I hope this taskforce has teeth and follows through so that the senior appointments in companies don’t always go to the same charmed circle of people.”
Source: Read Full Article