Anu Adebajo, Investment Manager at British Business Bank, and Shafi Musaddique, Reporter at CNBC, discuss intersectionality, ethnic pay gaps, diversity in the investment industry, why we must go beyond target-led initiatives, the Rooney Rule and other lessons from the US, the importance of driving more flexible working practices, the challenges of integrating faith and business, and whether the financial services industry needs to refresh its image to create and attract greater diversity.
Links & Resources from this Episode
Dynamic working around the moon
Anu is an Investment Manager at the British Business Bank focusing on investments into venture capital funds via the Enterprise Capital Fund and VC Catalyst programmes. She also sits on fund Advisory Boards.
Prior to this Anu spent 5 years at the Angel CoFund, a £100m equity fund that made co-investments alongside business angels into high growth companies.
Anu is an advocate for the representation of ethnic minorities in the Venture Capital and Private Equity industry. She previously ran an award winning online hair and beauty business and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Nottingham.
You can follow Anu on Twitter @AnuAdebajo.
Shafi Musaddique is a journalist covering Europe, Asia and business news. He has worked at CNBC, the Independent, BBC and The Economist. He has covered topics ranging from the ethnic pay gap, the exploitation of migrant workers and inequalities in the Bangladeshi garment making industry. Shafi is passionate about seeing greater ethnic diversity both in journalism and wider business and wants to see greater awareness of the role faith can have for some in the workplace.
You can follow Shafi on Twitter @ShafLdn.
Series Two, Episode Eleven Transcript
Julia: Hello, my name is Julia Streets, and welcome to DiverCity Podcast, talking about diversity and inclusion in financial services. In each episode, we seek to shine a light on successful progress, call out areas requiring further focus and offer practical ideas to help drive change. Today we welcome two senior industry executives, a VC and Private Equity diversity champion, and a national newspaper business reporter.
Our first guest today is Shafi Musaddique, business reporter at the Independent. Shafi describes himself as being big on diversity and has written extensively about the ethnic pay gap, millennial recruitment and engagement, and workplace trends and opportunities. Shafi’s career has included 10 years at the BBC and The Economist. Shafi, we’re delighted you could join us today.
Shafi: Thank you so much.
Julia: Our second guest is Anu Adebajo, an Investment Manager at the British Business Bank, focusing on investments into Venture Capital funds. Her career has included five years at the Angel Co Fund, an equity fund investing in high growth companies. Anu is highly regarded as an advocate for the representation of ethnic minorities in the Venture Capital and Private Equity industry. Anu, welcome and thank you for joining us on the podcast.
Anu: Thank you for having me.
Julia: So, as always at the top of the show, we invite each of our guests to take approximately one minute to talk about initiatives they’re particularly focused on at the moment. Anu, let me start with you.
Anu: So I decided that 2018 was going to be the year that I stopped talking about gender and I started solely focusing on ethnic diversity rather than gender diversity. I make sure that in my speaking engagements, even if they are about gender, I’m able to talk about intersectionality, specifically with ethnic diversity. So I’m really focused on that. Also within the British Business Bank, and my team specifically, we’re looking at how we can encourage fund managers to look at diversity, but in a non-prescriptive way and in a non-box checking way, and how we really focus more on culture rather than specifically about numbers.
So we’re looking at how we build that into our process as well. There are various interesting ways that we’re trying to do that through the questionnaire that we send to prospective fund managers, and I might talk a bit more about that later.
Julia: There’s a lot in there to unpack in terms of culture and then also some of the processes to drive change as well. Wonderful. Thank you. Shafi, let me turn to you. What are you focused on?
Shafi: So very similar to Anu, it’s been a breakthrough year in journalism and I guess we’ve had this whole foray recently about the BBC gender pay gap. Being a journalist, the dominating perspective of diversity has been gender. So my initiative has been steering that conversation to developing more awareness about ethnic pay gaps, and also awareness of women of colour who are often marginalised the most. And just like Anu, I’m thinking about culture as opposed to just statistics.Part of that for me from my personal perspective is of people who practice certain faiths and ensuring that they don’t lead parallel lives with their workplace culture, and the way they can be productive at work.
Julia: Fascinating. So, let’s start with the culture piece, which you both reference there. If you look at the last 12 months to 24 months, where do you see the greatest change in the context of corporate culture?
Anu: Yeah, I think, it’s still very early days and I wouldn’t say that I’ve seen anything radical yet. I’ve seen a lot of people trying to lay the groundwork for change, culturally, but I think it’s too early to see the fruits of that because a lot of times people don’t really think that they have … what’s my company culture … that seems a bit of an abstract concept. I think people are starting to look at it and think about it more. For example, in Venture Capital industry, people are looking at how are people motivated, are you getting a lot of people who are really looking to get rich quick by any means?
That’s a particular type of person. Are you looking at someone who’s really trying to nurture and grow businesses, and really trying to work with them long term. If they’re that kind of person, they tend to have more of a collaborative approach, they tend to be in it more for the long haul, they tend to be more about the team rather than about the individual. And when you have any financial services firm, actually, you really do need to work together as a team rather than focusing on yourself as an individual.
If you’re focusing on yourself, your bonus, your perception within the firm, then it might lead you to take risky behaviours that you wouldn’t normally take if you’re having more of a collaborative approach. So that’s just one example of things that we’re starting to see. I think it’s very early days, like I said, we’re starting to see the groundwork being laid, people starting to focus on that topic of culture more, which hopefully maybe in the next three, four, five years perhaps, we might start to see something more happening, but right now it’s too early to see any kind of seismic shift.
Julia: Particularly in the world of VC and private equity, there are two dynamics really; one I guess is the identification of an investment opportunity and what sort of personality and team do you need to identify those. And the other of course is then working with those investment companies to help drive growth as well, which brings into question the knock-on effects of how that culture drives down into the investee companies as well and leaders. Are you seeing an awareness of the need for greater diversity in the leadership of those investee companies as well?
Anu: So, we’re starting to see that and I think it’s really interesting to see that chain because actually, the chain very much starts with LP investors such as us, moves down to the fund manager, the GPS and then trickles down into the investee companies.
Julia: And just to be clear, that’s Limited Partners and General Partners
Anu: Yes. And then it trickles down into the investee companies. I think it’s quite hard because historically, people have … in the same way that venture funds recruit in their likeness, they also invest in their likeness too. A lot of this industry is about networking and connections, and access to deal flow comes from your network. People tend to have networks professionally and personally that are similar to them. It’s where they feel safe.
So, it’s quite rare that you will find someone investing in someone who is the complete opposite to them. So, that already means that there is a tendency that if there are some cultural misbehaviours that happen at the GP level, they will be happening at the company level just because it will be the same type of person. And so they’ll tend to have the same type of culture.
So I think a couple of things are happening. One, GP’s are trying to recruit from a more diverse pool, which will hopefully open up a more diverse pool of investee companies. And this should be able to kind of address some of these cultural issues because you just have people from a wider variety of backgrounds, which means that they’re likely to have different ideas about the company culture.
What you’re also seeing too is VC’s trying to go out of their comfort zone and go to different networks – approach networks that they wouldn’t normally have approached – even if it is the same GP, but saying, “Okay, traditionally, I go to these types of events or traditionally, I just ask my existing founders to give me referrals. I’m going to go out on a limb and I’m going to go to an event in another city so it won’t be somewhere up North, Manchester, if you’re a VC based in London, I’m or I’m going to start looking at events that may target founders of colour somewhere.
I would never have gone before, and I’m going to go there and see, what’s happening and see what those founders are like and get to know them a bit more.” So we’re starting to see that. We’re starting to see people recognise that. Probably, realistically, and, it’s as good a reason as any, because ultimately it’s a very competitive industry. People are competing for deals all the time and you end up getting the same people in the same deals.
If you want an edge, if you ultimately want your fund to have a great return, you can’t be the same as everyone else or else you’ll all be at the same place when it comes to benchmarking. So you need to do something different and find someone different to hopefully get that outsized return.
Julia: What I love about that is that everything needs to come back to a commercial imperative and that’s ultimately what’s going to drive change, is when there’s a realisation of the opportunities that are out there that are untapped, which strikes me as a huge opportunity for diversity there as well.
And Shafi, you look at the world as a whole, right? So as you sit back and look at the financial services’ industry again, because let’s start with culture and see where we go from there … Are you seeing that financial services organisations are taking the cultural point very seriously? Is that what drives diversity change or is that a side effect of hiring lots of D&I people who are trying to drive cultural change?
Shafi: I think it’s a side effect and I think this comes from who are the change makers. And as a journalist, you’re sitting outside the industry and you’re looking within. What I see are the change makers and the policymakers are almost setting targets, but probably don’t have a grasp of what it is they need to do beyond those targets.
So for example, Lloyd’s Bank one of the biggest banks in Britain, set an ethnic minority target of 8% at executive level and 10% for the whole of the workforce. They cited that as being on par or close to par with the census of the general population. I mean that’s a very logical stance, but to me is 10% of a workforce that’s non-white, is that really diverse? No. So I think what that shows is that target-led initiatives are good, but what we’ve got to do is go beyond that. I think the way we can solve that is, again, it’s part of this legacy management of bringing in or promoting young ethnic workers.
And I think, what you asked Anu, earlier, about what has changed recently with the conversation about diversity. I think when it comes to gender diversity, we are seeing more women in the financial services’ sector taking the platform and we can hear their voice. As a journalist what you have to remember is that journalism is almost that you’re hearing the echoes of what’s happening in an industry.
So we’re seeing the ripple effects and we’re slightly behind, and from what Anu said earlier, there is a lag in the industry itself when it comes to tackling intersectionality, especially. So if there’s a lag there, then as a journalist, reporting these issues, there’s going to be an additional lag. When you have 50, 40, 30 women in the workplace, they can come together and they can exert pressure on their management to change workplace culture and policy in their best interests.
But when you have four, five, six non-white workers in a company of 250 workers, it’s a catch 22 because you’re not going to exert the right pressure for change, and it’s very isolating. As someone who works in an industry that’s really frankly disastrous for diversity, I felt that myself and I think is very similar in the financial services.
Julia: So, what’s going to drive that change, do you think? Is it about leadership from the top? We have a lot of discussion on the podcast about, the very top levels of business understand perhaps the commercial imperative that we were talking about, and also the need to drive greater diversity. But is that enough? If you are one of those four or five employees who are feeling very isolated and don’t feel that they have a voice necessarily, what’s going to drive that empowerment?
Shafi: I think there’s two things. I think it’s recruitment. So ensuring that your young, talented, especially ethnic, workers are promoted and that they are skilled at management level. Because I think what happens is when you bring them up, they will bring 10 people up with them. I think secondly, if, we talk about quotas, and as journalists, I always have to compare industries and there’s a really good example in US sports where they have the Rooney Rule, where they have to have a certain amount of ethnic minority candidates at interview stage.
So I think we need something similar to that in financial services. When you have initiatives that are happening at both management level and recruitment level or HR level, then you’re going to have change, both short and long term.
Julia: I think two of the most powerful dynamics that will encourage change and drive change, one is mentoring, and the other is role modeling. And I think a wonderful thing about having you both on the show today is to get some of those voices out, that talk about leadership from an ethnic minority perspective, but also specialists in your own field as well, because this whole argument of ‘if you can see it, you can be it’. In this case, if you could hear it, you can, it doesn’t rhyme but be it.
So are you seeing that organisations are taking mentoring and role modeling seriously? Or is that a byproduct of individuals waking up? Like you Anu, saying “This is my mission for the year. I’m going to take this topic on.” Or are you encouraged in your efforts to be a role model?
Anu: So I think for me, on the one hand, the fact that maybe I could be considered a role model is scary in some cases because I think, not to put myself down, but a role model at this level when you’re not partner a fund and when you’ve not been in the industry for a long time, I think that kind of shows the lack of role models. That I could be considered to be one shows that there just aren’t enough and aren’t enough really senior level.
So that’s on the one hand. But on the other hand, I think I’m quite encouraged that I get a lot of people who are graduates, mostly women, and a lot of minority women who are graduates or still at university or have just come out of university and who just want to meet up with me, talk to me and ask me questions, and it’s really cool. I wish I had that, because I didn’t really.
I think that’s not great but on the other hand, it’s also okay, so it’s a very strange one for me. But in terms of the wider industry, I think we’re starting to see that more, we’re starting to see lots of mentoring schemes being set up. So there are a few different organisations in my industry. I know there are a lot in the wider financial services industry, but in my industry in particular, there’s Level 20, which is solely focused on gender, and then there’s Diversity VC, which is looking at a wider variety of diversity. And they both have an element of mentoring there.
Julia: We were delighted because we had Travis Winstanley on the show from Diversity VC talking about exactly that, which was wonderful.
Anu: And then there’s also more, a wider network of different … it’s more fragmented I think, there are other initiatives like Campus Capital, who are a VC that focused on University students. It’s part fund, but part also training, a VC school for these students to be doing in their spare time while they’re at university. And they again, try and do that too and try and set people up with internships and that kind of thing.
So it’s happening. I wish that it was more joined up because it’s such a small industry. I think it would be better if it was more joined up, but people are starting to do that. In wider financial services, I think each individual firm starting to have mentoring, and I really like when people so do reverse mentoring. I think that’s great. I think that’s really, really good. It’s great for people, senior people especially, to be able to even just understand, just to maybe sit down and listen, and hear, “Okay, what do you think are the barriers to your career progression? What have we been doing good at this company? Why haven’t we been great at here?” I think that’s really good to see as well.
So I think things are happening but things need to be a bit more joined up. I think mentorship is really good because, like you said “if you can see it, you can be it” and, it’s more about also when you don’t see, you just automatically or you just subconsciously think, “Well, this is not industry for me”. You mentioned sports earlier, Shafi, and I think people see that for example, there may very well be a lot of young black boys, say, who want to do cycling. But they don’t see themselves represented in cycling at a competitive level.
So for various reasons they think, “Well, that’s not really a sport for me”. Whereas they do see themselves in sprinting and that’s something that is obviously then very attracted them because they think, “Well, this is actually a place where there’ll be other people like me, and it’s set up for someone like me”. So we see that time and time again and I think it’s that … it’s not just seeing everything, it’s the absence of it is also a barrier, rather than the presence of it being an attractive thing.
Julia: I think in there, there’s quite a lot of really interesting dynamics. So one of them is where you talk about reverse mentoring, which is really powerful actually, when we talk about if you want to drive change and drive it through empathetic management and leadership, in a way. Also the ability to be able to see yourself in someone’s job, and go, “I could do that” and that resonance, which is really important.
As you look at the financial services industry, it’s going through an incredible change at the moment, particularly when we think about data scientists, so when everything’s driven by data across platforms, et cetera. And we think about cybersecurity and the talent that we need to come through doesn’t necessarily want to work in the world of financial services of it can’t see itself in those jobs as you come right the way through from school.
But if I think also about something you were saying, at the very beginning Shafi, in the workplace environment is the authenticity of self and faith particularly. And I’m just wondering whether in the context of what Anu was saying about reverse mentoring and understanding the faith dynamic within a workplace and have we come beyond the day of going, we have a prayer room, it’s sufficient to a current working environment where people’s authentic spiritual selves can come to work as well?
Shafi: That’s a really interesting question. I still think a lot of workplaces lack even basic facilities. When we talk about faith in the workplace, we’re talking about faith in work as part of understanding what practices drive people, and we’re talking about lifestyle choices rather than preaching. So I think, and in the bigger question of the UK, we have really poor productivity in this country, we’re way behind our European counterparts.
So if you look at it from that perspective, reverse mentoring would be absolutely fantastic to understand what drives people in their daily lives. It’s not about preaching, and you don’t have to be part of that religion to understand what drives a certain person. We’ve done so much for lifestyle choices for expectant mothers, fathers, we’ve come forward for gay, straight people, queer people.
I think when it comes to faith, we’ve got to remember we’re not France where we have a more imposing idea of the separation of faith and work. Here in the UK I think it’s a bit more fluid, and we’ve got to take advantage of that. The city, for me, still, can be the best place to push that forward.
Julia: And are there good corporate examples of organisations that understand that and understand that in order to drive productivity there is a place for personal faith and authenticity? I keep coming back to that. Are you seeing good examples or is it just an ideal at the moment?
Shafi: I think in the city it’s an ideal. I think that corporate culture in itself is a culture. We’re talking about young ethnic minority workers. We’re not far from Brick Lane here where there’s a huge young Bangladeshi Muslim population, and they live five minutes away from the city. But how many of them would be put off by working in that sort of corporate culture?
Julia: Because it feels like a square mile away actually.
Shafi: Yeah, literally and culturally. So we’ve got to actually take advantage of the way British culture can be quite fluid when we talk about faith. But in the workplace we’re yet to go … you talk about examples, I can’t think of any examples in the city, but yet again, we talk about sport. Sport’s a really interesting example because a lot of football clubs in the UK have started to introduce prayer rooms in stadiums and initiatives where fans of different faiths can meet up with each other. If we think of them as stakeholders within an organisation, then that can be easily applied to the workplace.
Julia: It’s fascinating, isn’t it? Certainly, in my world of FinTech, I often say to people, “If you want to look for good, practice, look outside your own organisation, look outside your own industry as well”. Anu, is there anything you’d add to that in terms of, as you look across multiple sectors from the VC and Private Equity perspective?
Anu: I think it’s an interesting one. I think because of the very heavy data science element of financial services, people just don’t even factor faith into anything and they don’t factor it into the workplace because I don’t think financial services is spiritual industry, any way you slice it! So, I think that that’s part of the issue and that’s part of the reason why I think no one’s looking at it.
So yes, that’s it. It’s a new one for me in terms of thinking about it and actually it’s something that, maybe I need to think about a bit more and ponder on a bit, but I think part of the reason is that it just doesn’t factor in.
Shafi: I just want to add in something there. In recent weeks this has come up for me because I had recent chat with my line managers about Ramadan, the month of fasting, 19 hours where I don’t eat or drink anything, even water. Having that conversation at work about what my productivity is going to be like, whether I could work at home, whether I can cut my hours. That was quite scary for me, and it shouldn’t be like that.
I’ve been in the world of work now for over a decade and yet every year it’s still scary for me, and I think the reason why is because inside me, I feel that management won’t understand me still. If you look at the data, it’s really interesting because the Parker Review says that only 8% of directors are of an ethnic minority background.
And when you link that to information that is often people from those backgrounds who are probably more religious, then when joining the dots together about management, who are the managers, who are the policy makers and then understanding the junior staff below and how they’re motivated. When we join the dots you can see the gap, and that impacts my day to day life.
Anu: And as you were talking Shafi, it made also think, actually, I think the wider issue here is general flexibility and general acceptance of all different kinds of lifestyles and just different kinds of situations. So actually if I think about where I work, I think that conversation would actually be quite easy because are very flexible in terms of working. We can work from home when we need to without really that much dialogue about the reasons why.
And I think if you have a culture that is flexible anyway, a culture that recognises that there’s various things, whether it’s that you’re fasting, whether it is that you’ve got you’ve got kids, whether it’s that you’ve even got dog that is not very well. Whatever the reason is, if they accept that you will have to sometimes adjust your working pattern or there are just going to be slight differences in the way you work … if they understand that overall and they are vocal about the fact that they are accepting of that, then all these kinds of conversations become easier.
But I think in financial services you have a culture. You have a historic culture of people being chained to their desks, of people putting in a lot of face time, of have people thinking that because you’re working from home, you’re going to be less productive when actually, anecdotally, and I’m sure there must be some facts behind it, people tend to say that they’re more productive when they’re at home. This is because you don’t have those times of stopping to get a coffee and have a chat, and then someone showing you something online, and then you’re walking up and down and doing different things and chatting to people.
You’re very focused and you’re also conscious of the fact that you were at home and you want people to be sure that you are definitely working, so then you’re being productive. So I think it’s a wider conversation about flexibility and about attitude to different types of working and different types of working styles that needs to happen within companies. And I think then they will allow room for a variety of things to rise up.
Julia: While you’re talking there, I’m wondering whether one of the interesting opportunities that will drive this home to senior executives, is when you think about care for aging parents, which mostly is a preserve of people to assert an age range. Again, I don’t want to be too specific about that, but it’s that middle management, senior management layer where that responsibility fits. That could be at one dynamic, because we’re always looking for those leapfrog moments and those driving dynamics that might shine some focus on areas of improvement.
So let’s take a moment there to turn to Cynthia and Robert for some research to support today’s discussion.
Cynthia: Were keen to highlight all strands of diversity on the podcast and found this insightful article which touches on faith – ‘Dynamic working around the moon’, an article on Nationwide’s website, discusses how the building society have planned to support staff and maintain productivity during the period of Ramadan.
Robert: Here are a few of the plans that Nationwide have in place. Staff who are fasting are encouraged to consider using any outstanding time off in lieu or annual leave during this period. Assessments and observations are carried out before the start of Ramadan, as the first few days of fasting can affect prolonged concentration. Staff social events planned during this period will not have a focus on food and drink, so all staff are able to attend. With members of staff taking time off for Eid, there are plans in place for maximum capacity for staffing.
Cynthia: Nationwide believes that staff productivity has not been affected because they have taken these steps. In addition to facilitating staff around Ramadan, Nationwide also have faith and reflection rooms on many sites, as well as their Faith and Belief Network for staff.
Julia: Thanks Cynthia and Robert and links to the research can be found on our website DiverCityPodcast.com, and that’s where you can find all our episodes and sign up for early notifications of future recordings. Please do follow us on Twitter at @Divercitypod. DiverCity Podcast is also available on BrightTalk and all good podcast channels, and we’d love a rating because it all helps promote the show.
So, when we’ve been thinking about the commercial imperative for driving change and everybody refers to the McKinsey study. Do you have other sources? Where do you turn to to get your data that will give a compelling reason for change?
Anu: So right now it’s just the McKinsey study, there’s really nothing else and I’m really almost sick of talking about the McKinsey study. That’s the only data point that seems to come up for anybody because, especially in the UK, there really isn’t much other data. In the US, there’s a lot more, but it doesn’t really make sense to extrapolate it because it’s a very different makeup and a very different type of country. So right now it’s just the McKinsey study and I think there’s a real need for more research and more research beyond gender.
I think we had a very hot moment for gender in the last few years, so everyone rushed to do research and studies around gender. But no one is really looking at other types of diversity and trying to get the data behind that. I do know that DiverCity VC are trying to, or aiming to, look this year at ethnic diversity, and repeat the study they did on gender within the VC industry. But just in terms of wider than that, and in terms of within other segments of financial services, there doesn’t seem to be much going on and people seem to be resting a bit on their laurels and happy just to even use gender diversity data in articles about generic, general diversity, and they don’t seem to see a problem with not having other data points.
Just to touch on the importance of it, I think we make assumptions that everybody understands why diversity and inclusion is important, and we think that everybody is on board with that. But I don’t actually believe that that’s the case. I think that there are a lot of people who are being swept along by it who feel maybe forced to address this issue. Actually, they don’t really understand or they don’t understand why or believe that it’s important.
They think that they’re getting the returns they want with a team that looks like this, a team that is exactly the same. A team that’s mostly made up of white males over 40, and they say, “Well, why should we change that? Why should we take a risk?” I find that really interesting because financial services in general is really risky. Venture Capital certainly is one of the riskiest asset classes, so why wouldn’t you look to, on the one hand, take a risk and bring in someone who’s slightly different and who can offer a different point of view? But on the other hand, also look to diversify your human portfolios, as I call it.
Julia: But isn’t there an argument that when people look out and say, “Okay, so we might want to change whether we’re hesitant to or whether we should, or whether we’re being told that we should, but we just can’t find the people”. Is there a supply challenge?
Anu: Again, this is something that annoys me quite a lot when people say this. You could see that very much happened in the US, a lot of people talked about that. There’s an initiative now called All Raise, which was set up by a few female VCs kind of in response to the things that happened in that industry a year or so before the #MeToo stuff started coming to the forefront.
One of the things that they do is they’ve got a database of founders and a database of potential VCs or people who are interested in becoming VCs, and they have a lot of names on that list and people can come to them and say, “Okay, we’re looking for someone to join at the partner level or even associate level and they can provide people”. So I think that supply is not the issue.
If you look at one of the things that you get told in financial service is that they want people with finance backgrounds or people with STEM backgrounds. If you look at universities, if you look specifically at subjects like medicine, like dentistry, like engineering, and look at the type of people who do those courses, you have a really strong ethnic minority contingent of people studying those courses. So there are people who have that background, but somewhere between university and getting into financial services that they get lost.
Julia: If people aren’t resonating with why come into financial services? I wonder Shafi whether there’s a big reputational question there about why people would want to work in financial services?
Shafi: Yeah, absolutely and I think the interesting thing is, what Anu was saying earlier about some people being swept along this journey, it reminds me of … I did reporting on the Google memo that was released, and this one guy who absolutely just could not get the point about diversity. I think that’s quite a good indication of the link to whether the city itself is speaking the same language as its prospective new generation.
As journalists, often the only times that we talk to city firms are often around negative news. Often journalists are kind of made the scapegoats of how the narrative is told. But city firms can engage better and shape that narrative. It’s really interesting very recently, I’d say, eight weeks or so, my inbox has been flooded by city firms who want to get their name out with the gender pay gap reporting and they want their name associated with, I guess, part of a trend. But this is not a trend.
And I think part of the solution here is for better understanding of, number one, I guess not talking in jargon to people who don’t understand financial services and young people are consuming a lot of media on social media and on their phone. So if you can get through to them via, I guess, the way that they’re consuming news, then that could be part of the solution of, I guess, talking to young people on their level. But yeah, as a journalist I feel that city firms still talk in a rather robotic voice.
Anu: Yeah, I that’s a function of them trying to keep certain types of people out or rather trying to keep in the people that they’re comfortable with. It kind of places that initial barrier – if you don’t understand the terminology or if you don’t have access to the normal recruitment channels, then you’re not the type of person that we’d want here anyway. I think that’s an initial barrier that some people almost use as part of that recruitment process.
Shafi: Sorry, I was going to say what you said, this smells to me like a boys only membership club and that is the vibe that we still have. How that changes, I don’t know.
Julia: Which says to me huge opportunity actually, which is as the industry begins to communicate more clearly about what it does and how it engages with new talent that comes from many different pools that we haven’t perhaps tapped into previously, that could be an opportunity in the context of diversity and inclusion. We’re going to have to end it there, I know we could talk for a long time! So Anu, Shafi,hank you both very much indeed.
Anu: Thank you.
Shafi: Thank you so much.
Kieron: This episode of DiverCity podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. Thanks to Cynthia Akinsanya and Robert Pinto-Fernandes for their insights. You can find out more about guests on this week’s show on our website DiverCityPodcast.com. Whilst you’re there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates.
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