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London banks are shortlisting diversity candidates, but some are tracked more than others

Banks in London setting out to tackle their historic propensity to hire too many middle-aged heterosexual white men, and their main method for doing so is the candidate shortlist. 

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Today's 'HM Women in Finance Charter Annual Review 2023,' produced in conjunction with New Financial, suggests diversity shortlists are the norm among financial services employers in London. However, some kinds of diversity are monitored more strenuously than others.

Diversity shortlists occur when recruiters are compelled to include candidates from diverse groups among the candidates they put forward for jobs. When diverse candidates that exactly match job descriptions aren't available, tangential people with transferable skills will often be added to the list. In London, New Financial found that 74% of companies are using them. 

Although the report is specific to London, the shortlisting strategy is applied globally. "Every shortlist we deliver has to have between 20% and 40% of women," one New York headhunter told us last year. "If it doesn't have that, we need to justify why the women aren't there. In some cases, it means that women who wouldn't otherwise be in the top 10 candidates make it onto the list." 

Some forms of diversity are monitored more closely than others, though. New Financial found that while 74% of companies track ethnicity, only 26% track age. Only 31% track socioeconomic background, and fewer track gender (43%) than sexual orientation (54%).

The Financial Conduct Authority is pushing large firms to collect an increased range of data across age, ethnicity, sex or gender, religion, sexual orientation, and disability/long-term ill health conditions, implying that shortlists may need to include either a broader array of candidates in future, or include a few candidates who fit all the requirements. 

Despite the work being done to increase diversity, today's report found that only 35% of people in senior management positions at UK finance firms are women and that 24% of firms studied were either not on track to meet diversity targets or had missed them.

Various reasons were given for these failings. BNP Paribas said its corporate and investment bank missed targets for female representation in senior roles because not enough women were applying and not enough men were leaving, for example. Pimco said much the same.

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Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash


AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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