This article first appeared in Investment Week, 20th June 2018.
In 2015, the only type of diversity the industry had thought about was in their portfolios. Then in 2016, like buses, three initiatives came along at once - Women in Finance Charter, Diversity Project and City Hive. From 2017 onwards, those who had never heard the term diversity and inclusion (D&I), could not get away from it. D&I professionals are being appointed all over the industry - although I am not sure where they have all come from.
Have firms always had a D&I professional ignored and unloved in a locked drawer, and now they are being dusted down and shown some love? Or is this a new role?
Whatever it is, the message about the importance of diversity has been supposedly embraced by those at the top and the edicts are being handed down about changes to corporates' culture, with the blame for the D&I train slowing down being placed at the door of middle management.
Three years ago, no one uttered the word 'diversity' but now it is de rigueur with the C-suite telling us it is at the core of their business values. Sadly, the numbers say something else - you only need to look at the gender pay gap figures.
So, you can excuse middle management for not taking D&I as seriously as you would like. For the guys and few gals actually doing the day job this will not be the first corporate values rebrand they have seen. They will be sceptical that 'this time it is different', and be quietly waiting for the next fad.
However, I am here to tell you this one is not going away, because it is just too important. It is underpinned in more than just being a great business case - it is underpinned by equality.
D&I is not a branding exercise and the time for excuses is over. As an industry we need to own what we are and how we got here, and then get on with actually fixing it.
Diversity is not just an HR or board level issue. It drives innovation and more robust analysis, and each business area should take ownership.
If diversity is embedded in all processes, like we have seen with environmental and social governance, we are likely to see a quicker shift in culture with everyone being held to account.
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