Why the regulators care about diversity

Christopher Woolard
Inside The City Of London's New Landmark Skyscraper
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Most people who get involved in diversity issues have a personal reason.

Growing up in the 1970s, if you wanted a masterclass in casual prejudice, you just had to stick around my grandfather who used a wheelchair and see how many people saw the chair and not the wonderful man inside.

Having grown up on a council estate and attended a comprehensive school, I take a keen interest in social mobility.

And yes, like a lot of executives who have daughters, I’ve championed gender issues.

But I am always clear this is as much about the future workplaces that my son will come into as my daughters, where everyone should be treated with respect.

The simple truth is none of us should be a bystander. I believe that if you’ve ever had that gut feeling of being the one who is excluded, you have a responsibility to do something about it for others.

I’m proud to say that this agenda is hugely important to us at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), both as an employer, but also as a regulator.

As a regulator, diversity and inclusion isn’t just an issue of moral conscience – it’s an absolutely vital part of our social contract with the public.

We represent the interests of consumers across the UK. These are not one homogenous mass of financial services users – they are utterly diverse, with differing needs and priorities.

In order to be truly effective, we have to reflect the diverse society we serve. This is central to our ability to provide public value.

However, diversity can never be tokenistic or based purely on percentages. Real diversity is about a wide group of people bringing their broad range of experiences to the table; experiences which cause them to ask different questions, consider an issue from a different angle, or raise doubts that would otherwise never be considered.

Critically for us as a regulator, this is about making better and more rounded judgements.

The commercial benefits of diversity are supported by research. According to a McKinsey study, firms with racial and gender diversity are 35 per cent more likely to deliver superior results.

At the FCA, we’re committed to making progress to become a more diverse and inclusive regulator, and the Women in Finance charter demonstrates commitment within the financial services industry to change. That change means we all must take responsibility.

Whatever our background or motivation, inclusion means we can all and should all play our part.

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