The City of London and the government are today launching a joint taskforce to tackle the lack of class diversity in the UK’s financial services sector.
The announcement comes as new research found that nine in ten senior roles in financial services are held by people from richer backgrounds.
The report, by social equality advocates Bridge Group, also said that employees from less privileged backgrounds take 25 per cent longer to progress, despite no evidence of poorer performance.
The taskforce, which was commissioned by the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, will attempt to boost representation in the sector.
It will do so by leading a consultation on how the government, regulators and sector bodies can incentivise firms to act on the issue.
In addition, it will create a membership body where companies can evaluate their performance against their peers.
It will also build a business case for increasing the representation of people from less privileged backgrounds in the sector.
City minister John Glen said: “We’re entering a new chapter for UK financial services and it’s vital that firms have the right leadership to grasp the opportunities ahead.
“That means taking action to ensure that talented people from all backgrounds and parts of the country can reach their full potential. By breaking down socio-economic barriers to progression, our financial services sector will become more innovative and competitive, and help to level up the UK.”
City of London policy chair Catherine McGuinness will chair the body, along with three vice deputy chairs, including Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane.
McGuinness said: “Talented individuals should be able to succeed in financial and professional services on their own merit regardless of socio-economic background. Unfortunately, for many people that does not yet seem to be a reality.
“We hope that firms will seize the opportunity the taskforce provides to develop a more diverse pipeline by ensuring they are truly recruiting and promoting on merit.”
In addition, the research showed that among junior employees, 47 per cent were from a higher socio-economic background by parental occupation, and 11 per cent were educated at an independent school.
For senior level employees (senior manager and above), this rises to 89 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.
Just under half (42.7 per cent) of senior roles were occupied by white men who attended an independent or selective state school.