A major City report into social mobility has called to “break the ‘class’ ceiling” and get more people from non-professional backgrounds in boardrooms.
The industry must “act now” to make the workforce more socio-economically diverse, with a lofty goal of at least half senior leaders in financial and professional services being from that background by 2030.
The report was published by the City of London Corporation-led Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce (SEDT), after being commissioned by the Treasury and Department for Business (BEIS) two years ago.
It was set up in a bid to tackle poor social mobility with its findings showing the lack of working and intermediate class employees in the those services – and in particular the difficulty of progressing up the ranks.
Around half of employees are from non-professional backgrounds, and of these, 25 per cent progress slower and only 36 per cent of working class staff become senior.
The study also found those from non-professional backgrounds are paid around £17,500 less – with no links to performance.
While highlighting the disparity between those from different backgrounds, it also outlined a roadmap to making it a more even playing field, in a bid to get more working and intermediate employees in boardrooms.
A key target is to boost the number of senior leaders from non-professional backgrounds from 37 per cent to around half, by 2030.
It outlined a five-step process for employers, sector bodies, regulators and the government to work towards these changes.
“It is vital that UK financial and professional services firms act now to enable talented people to rise to the top whatever their background”, said chair of the City of London Corporation-led SEDT, Catherine McGuinness.
‘We need to break the “class” ceiling – removing unfair barriers to progression is not only the right thing to do, it will enable firms to boost productivity, retention levels and innovation.”
City Hall weighed in saying “someone’s life chances should never be limited by their background.
Rajesh Agrawal, who is Sadiq Khan’s Deputy Mayor for Business said “action is long overdue. It is vital that our world-leading financial and professional services do more to achieve greater diversity and representation at senior levels, and to address inequalities that hold working class, as well as Black, Asian and minority ethnic Londoners back from achieving positions of seniority.
“The Mayor and I are determined to build a better London for everyone and will continue to work with businesses across the capital to ensure no Londoner is left behind.”
Nick Bowes, chief executive of Centre for London said; “It’s a sad indictment that in a global economic powerhouse like London there are still thousands of people who don’t have the opportunities to make the most of their talents.”
“The city includes some of the most deprived communities in Britain and some of the richest places in the world, right next to each other. But there might as well be a hundred miles between them given the barriers people face in accessing well paid secure jobs.”
It’s a sad indictment that in a global economic powerhouse like London there are still thousands of people who don’t have the opportunities to make the most of their talents.”Nick Bowes, CEO of the Centre for London
“As this report confirms, there’s still a huge job to do to open up access to opportunities to all Londoners, regardless of their backgrounds or where they live. But until we tackle this, the city is never making the most of its vast human talent.”
Financial services firms are also being urged to join ‘Progress Together, a new organisation to propel the aims of the report, in progressing and retaining workers from non-professional background.
Chair of Progress Together and co-chair of SEDT Alderman Vincent Keaveny, said: “Socio-economic diversity is key to all sectors. It is vital that firms take action to create a more equitable pathway to the top for people from all backgrounds.”
“I am excited to continue this great work as Chair of Progress Together so we maximise the potential of talented people and boost productivity.”