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Series Two, Episode Five: Driving National, Regional and Local Change

Jazz Bhogal is Deputy Director for Civil Service D&I, responsible for the delivery of the strategy to become the most diverse employer by 2020. Rosa Morgan-Baker is Head of Partnerships at The Brokerage, the social mobility charity helping financial and professional firms attract and support young talent. Together they explore tackling D&I on a national scale and at every level, the importance of corporate engagement, how best to reflect diversity in society, shaping and engaging future talent, benchmark setting ….. all to lead the way & drive progress.

Links & Resources from this Episode

Education and Employers Taskforce (2014)

The right combination: CBI/Pearson education and skills survey 2016

Careers strategy: making the most of everyone’s skills and talents (Department of Education)

The City of London Business Traineeship programme

Jazz Bhogal, Deputy Director, Civil Service D&I

Jazz Bhogal

Jazz Bhogal is the Deputy Director for Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion. Based in the Cabinet Office she is responsible for the delivery of the UK Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion Strategy leading on the delivery of the Civil Service’s ambition to be the most inclusive employer in the UK by 2020.

Jazz has a long and varied career working in the health sector, in the NHS and at the Department of Health as a diversity and inclusion specialist working in health and care commissioning, as a general manager in operational hospital management, as a specialist in public health promotion and as a policy specialist at the regional and national level. She oversaw legal compliance with the race equality legislation for the entire NHS community in London following the introduction of the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000, established the health improvement agenda for the newly created Greater London Authority in 2000, and more recently created the the Government’s Public Health Outcomes Framework for England and led an independent review for the Government Office for Life Sciences.

Jazz volunteers as a youth mentor and works directly with young people from deprived backgrounds, and has helped dozens of young people, some over a number of years, to improve their life chances and realise their potential.

In all these roles, promoting equality and tackling discrimination underpins Jazz’s contributions, and continues to motivate her.

You can follow Jazz on Twitter @jazzbhogal71.

Rosa Morgan-Baker

Rosa is Head of Partnerships and Income Generation at The Brokerage, an award-winning social mobility charity based in the City of London. Rosa works closely with companies to help build their HR and CSR programmes so they can better attract and support young people from non-advantaged backgrounds into their careers. Specialising in financial and professional services, Rosa has worked with top corporates across the capital, advising on their diversity initiatives.

Prior to joining The Brokerage in 2012, Rosa was an Assistant Director for Explore Learning education centres, working with children to develop their maths and English and has also worked with language schools creating extracurricular activities for secondary school students to help them engage with the world of work.

You can follow The Brokerage on Twitter @the_brokerage.

Series Two, Episode Five 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 look at the world slightly laterally. We always talk about where best practice can be found and the hunt for talent that isn’t likely on our doorstep.

Today we’re joined by two amazing guests. Our first guest is Jazz Bhogal. Jazz is the Deputy Director for Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion and based in the Cabinet Office, she is responsible for the delivery of the UK Civil Service D&I Strategy, intent on meeting the ambitions of becoming the most inclusive employer in the UK by 2020. Jazz has enjoyed a long and varied career working in the health sector in many guises and most notably, Jazz was the D&I specialist in both the NHS and at the Department of Health at regional and national levels.

Our second guest is Rosa Morgan-Baker, Head of Partnerships at The Brokerage, a social mobility charity based in the city of London. Rosa works closely with companies to help build their HR and corporate social responsibility programs to attract and support young people from non-advantaged backgrounds. As a specialist in financial and professional services, Rosa has worked with leading institutions across the capital, helping them to deliver greater diversity.

As always, we invite each guest to take a minute at the start of the show to talk about what they’re particularly focused on at the moment and then we take the discussion from there. So Rosa, let’s start with you. What are you particularly working on?

Rosa: At The Brokerage we work with young people from the age of 10, so the last year of primary school, all the way through to undergraduate, helping them at each stage to be able to connect with professional and financial services, so we’re quite niche in that way. One of the things we’re particularly proud of that we’re working on at the moment is working with companies to build their talent pipeline programs. So bringing people in from an early age, getting them to see what happens within the organisation, getting people from the company really excited about working with young people and then working with them over a number of years to help them into the professions. We’re really trying to get companies to understand that it’s not just about picking the best and the brightest from the best universities, but really trying to grow your own homegrown talent. There’s so much incredible talent right here in London. So it’s helping to connect young Londoners with those employers and making sure that they get into the roles within professional and financial services.

Julia: Wonderful. Thank you very much and we’re delighted you can join us today. So Jazz, what are you focused on at the moment?

Jazz: So I’m really focused on our wider strategy, and you’ve mentioned the strategy. Our strategy is really about creating a civil service that is going to be reflective of the people we serve and our business. Our bottom line is to improve outcomes for the public, so if we don’t represent the public that we serve, then we’re not going to be able to meet those outcomes. In doing that, our strategy focuses around three areas and the first is around increasing diversity within our very senior civil service, so the very top-end of our organisations, and making sure that our leaders and decision makers are reflective of the communities we serve, not just the rank and file of our organisations. Becoming more inclusive and the shift towards inclusion, recognising that we’ve got to be more inclusive in order to hold on and attract and retain all of that diverse talent is a massive priority for us. And for the civil service, quite a new thing that we’re going to be doing is really putting ourselves out there to be accountable and to be transparent about progress that we should be making. So a key theme within our strategy is to publish data and to make sure that we’re able to demonstrate progress towards some targets that we want to meet.

Julia: And to what degree were you actually involved in the creation of the strategy itself? Was that your work?

Jazz: It certainly was. Blood, sweat and tears. So I arrived before the strategy was published, well before, while government had focused its attention around the Talent Action Plan. The Talent Action Plan was our civil service-wide strategy. It was a plan that was relatively tactical, so it had in it those things that you do, those good practice things that you do to remove barriers to progression within organisations and to attraction within our civil service organisations. That was all great but it wasn’t really the belt and braces, big whole systems type change that you’d want to see in an organisation to create that level of diversity and change.

Also, there was quite a strong political shift with the current prime minister when she came into post – a huge interest from her in that wider political landscape to create a more just society, to look at challenging those burning injustices that she talks about. So there was a significant attention, and rightly so, placed on the civil service. The challenge on the civil service was to make sure that it was able to sort its house out so that we had credibility with public services where we’re telling them to be more diverse and inclusive.

Julia: Did you look to the corporate world as well in figuring out what that strategy looked like?

Jazz: Absolutely. Actually, we’ve been talking and working with the corporate world for a very long time, both in terms of our new strategy and also some of our previous work that we’ve been doing over the recent years. So we published our strategy towards the end of 2017 and well before then … So from that point, about 18 months before then, we’d already started working on what we want to do around social mobility and that for me is the area that feels most exciting about our agenda going forward. The work that we’ve been doing with the corporate sector, so with big financial firms but also a whole range of other major employers, have been partners with us in developing a set of industry standard measures by which organisations can measure social mobility within their workforce.

Julia: How do you define social mobility?

Jazz: Ah. Now, that’s the $64 million question! So social mobility for us is about the breadth and depth of the social background that we reflect in society. So social mobility for us would be about making sure that we’ve got a much higher proportion of people that come from non-privileged backgrounds within the civil service. We’re 400,000 people who work in the civil service. The vast majority of those, about 85% of the civil service, actually work in very operational roles, very customer-facing, public-facing type of roles. So the person who will meet you if you have to go to a job centre or the person who you speak to on the phone for your tax queries and questions, these are all civil servants. The person who stamps your passport as you come in and out of the country, they’re a civil servant, as well as Sir Jeremy Heywood who’s the cabinet secretary, policy wonks like me who write policy and work in Whitehall for a living.

So the diversity of type of role within the civil service is vast and what we have is very much of the bit of the civil service that makes policy that is directly affecting at a macro level the public’s interest is made up significantly of people that come from quite privileged backgrounds and what we need to make sure is whilst that privilege isn’t a problem, we need to make sure that we have greater social diversity. So people with different experiences and perspectives are valuable to us as policymakers and as deliverers and arbiters of public service. All of that diversity is as important to us as the usual suspect type stuff, so the ethnicity and the gender and the other characteristics.

Julia: And you were saying at the beginning about looking at this through different lenses and one of them was about the senior levels. The ascension to senior levels is something we talk about a lot on the podcast, about how you’re helping greater diversity at the top by helping people on that career journey as well … Is that part of the strategy as well, looking at that journey to power and leadership?

Jazz: Absolutely. We’ve actually made significant progress in the diversity of our very senior roles within the civil service, particularly around gender. So we know that we have in the last 10 years, seen the senior civil service, and that’s the top 5% of civil servants in terms of grade, so these are people who essentially run the country as it were … So 10 years ago, not even a quarter of the senior civil service was made up of women. We’re now looking at something in the region of 46% to 48% and that’s across the entire senior civil service of about 4,000 people. At the very senior level, so our permanent secretaries — so these are people that are responsible for running a government department — out of 36 permanent secretaries, a third are women. We look at our pipeline, our director general level — that’s the level below permanent secretaries — we are looking at being on track for getting a 50-50 balance over the coming years and so that looks really successful. We’ve made great strides around sexual orientation, so our LGBT representation at those senior levels … Albeit our data is a bit ropey, and I think that’s probably the case in most areas.

Julia: I don’t think you’ll be alone there.

Jazz: Well, quite, yeah. So our declaration rates should be much better and we’re working on that but based on the data we do have, actually it shows us that our LGB representation is very, very high, so it’s an excess of the general economic active population. The areas that we have not made progress at all as fast as anyone would want to see is around ethnic minorities and people with disabilities in our most senior grades. We took a very clear line with that data, we took an evidence-based approach in the development of our strategy. We decided if the data was clear — the data is absolutely clear, it’s emphatic — that these are the areas we’ve made no progress over the last five years or where we have, it’s been painfully slow.

So right now, the ethnic minority representation in our senior civil service is at 5.9% across our senior civil service. But if you look at our very top grade, our permanent secretary grade, zero. We have no ethnic minority permanent secretaries. For our disabled workforce, we have somewhere in the region of about 3.3 – 3.9% depending on where you are. Again, we have no people with a registered disability in our permanent secretary cadre. Now, if you compare both of those to the economically active population, it’s about 11 to 12% for both groups. We’re falling way behind and in the case of ethnicity, the vast majority of our senior civil servants are based on London or the home counties, two thirds are, so we ought to be much higher even still, given the ethnic diversity of the professional population in London and the southeast. We are nowhere near as reflective as the estimated 20 to 25, to 30%, depending on what sector you’re talking about. So we’ve got an enormous way to go in that agenda and that’s where we’re putting all of our energy.

Julia: And I’d love to come back on what you think is going to drive that change and accelerate that change. Because one thing we’re really interested on the podcast is thinking about what are those leapfrog moments that you can really accelerate the pace of change as well. And Rosa, from your perspective, working with young people and listening to Jazz talk about things at the highest level, tell us a bit more about what you’re focused on in terms of getting more young execs into particularly for the world of financial services but actually this applies way beyond there, but that’s the focus of the podcast as you know. And how in terms of driving some of the change around the ethnic minority representation, is there anything you’re particularly focused on?

Rosa: Yeah. So really it’s about raising awareness of the different types of roles that are available out there for young people and especially the entry-level roles and the plethora of different roles coming out, especially things where you’re looking at apprenticeships and vocational traineeships and things like that. There are so many different avenues that young people can take and at the moment it’s really confusing. It’s not just confusing for the young person, it’s confusing for the schools, it’s confusing for businesses half the time as well. So a lot of the work that we’re doing is just really raising awareness and helping to demystify so many of the different processes that young people are facing. It goes right the way back from the primary school age as getting the students thinking about what happens within different businesses, getting them to break down some of those barriers, getting them to think about, “Okay. Well, perhaps I can go and use my communication skills in marketing.” Or similarly, “I can use my communication skills in technology.” Or, “I can use it as an actuary, having to talk about risks with different types of people.” It’s really getting them to see the skills that they’re learning at school and how that translates to the workplace.

In terms of helping young people from non-advantaged backgrounds to access those roles, really they don’t know that they’re out there so it really is helping them to see that they’re out there, see that the skills that they’re developing at school directly relate to those roles and making sure that they’re able to present themselves in a professional way so that they can match with their privileged counterparts.

Julia: So that’s really interesting because what you’re saying is that actually a lot of this comes from looking at the world through a school’s lens, not a job definition or job description lens. Is there a disconnect between that? Where are the hurdles between being able to get young people through academia, ready for the business and how businesses are attracting talent in academia?

Rosa: Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s a big disconnect between the curriculum and the world of work in terms of the jobs that young people can go into and actually trying to match the two together. So the curriculum is fantastic, it’s really equipping young people. However, you can’t always see the links between what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis and what happens in the world of work. So where we come in as The Brokerage, we are that broker between the two, we help the young people understand where their skills will be able to translate into the world of work.

I think one of the key hurdles that young people are facing is the fact that they can see the city, so they can see it from their bedroom windows for example. We’ve got a lot of young people that live in areas such as Lambeth or Hackney, Tower Hamlets, and they can see the city, they can see Canary Wharf from their bedroom windows. However, even though it’s geographically really close for them, mentally, it’s leagues away. So they absolutely cannot picture themselves in those big glass towers, in those buildings doing those sorts of jobs. They don’t know anyone that’s in there. They don’t know anybody who has ventured outside of their borough before. They’re very borough-centric and it can be really scary for them by having to go into different companies or having to try and look for different opportunities for them to be able to succeed in the future in an area that is completely alien to them.

Julia: How do you overcome that?

Rosa: So one of the key ways is to help young people from an early age, so that early intervention. We do a lot of work with companies helping to work with young people, usually even if it’s just for a half day. A half day visit, bringing the students out into the city or into Canary Wharf, into a big financial institution and getting them to meet people from different levels, getting them to do a little bit of networking, getting them to actually start thinking, “Oh. The people that work here are normal” which is a massive part of it. If they’re sitting at home playing on their Xbox and they’re not entirely sure if they could continue being themselves if they were to work in some of these institutions, it’s great for them to actually meet people who work there, really enjoy working there and can say actually it can be for anybody. Especially for companies as well, I think the hurdles are on both sides, so the students find it difficult but also companies find it difficult to interact with schools and to interact with students. A lot of the work is about breaking down what they’re doing in a way that students are able to digest and where they’ve got that wealth of knowledge there, they’re not necessarily equipped to be able to break it down in a way that a young person’s going to be able to understand.

Julia: Can you give us an example of how that comes to life?

Rosa: Yeah, absolutely. So for example, if you look at the actuarial profession or if you look at insurance, it’s a lot about looking at risk, a lot about looking at analysing numbers and things like that. But really at the basis of it, it’s taking something quite complicated and explaining it in a simple way. Now, students really get that. They’ve all had a teacher standing at the front of the classroom telling them something that they absolutely have no idea about. Once someone has explained it to them in a way that is easy to break down, they get it and they have the ‘aha’ moment. They’re really good at communicating with each other and sharing their different ideas with each other and having to work as part of a team – they’re doing it every day.

But a company when they’re writing say a job description will have all of these different things that they’re looking at and they’ll say that they really want someone who’s proficient in analysing in these languages or in these different ways of looking at these different programs, and they’re not able to show young people exactly what that means in real terms. So they’re using their corporate language and then the students feel alienated because of it. So what’s really useful is getting companies to work with people like us. There are lots of other organisations out there that work with companies to help them look at things like where they’re advertising their placements, to look at their job descriptions, and their CVs, and their application forms, and things like that to make sure that when they’re putting them out there, it’s in universally understood language, that they don’t have any jargon in there that’s going to put people off from applying. It really is just thinking about the recruitment processes right from the beginning to make sure that you’re getting out to the widest breadth of people.

Julia: If you talk about sitting in Lambeth or in Tower Hamlets to look at the world of finance through, as you say, those skyscrapers and the glass and steel buildings and feeling a distance from that … In terms of the world of civil service, for young talented executives of the future sitting in various schools, the world of civil service must feel like a mile away. Are there things you’re looking at in terms of how do you reach that talent group and bring them into civil service and unbundle it in many regards?

Jazz: Absolutely. It’s a massive priority for us and in particular, a piece of research that was done in 2016 by an organisation called the Bridge Group. I think it’s an organisation that I know The Brokerage works with or knows about. The Bridge Group, we commissioned to do some work for us, to look at the socioeconomic background of people entering our graduate schemes or our fast stream. This is a really major, highly prestigious graduate scheme. We take on about 1400 graduates a year across the civil service, across a range of professions and functions, actually also across the country. But the assumption is that all fast streamers have to be able to come to Whitehall and up until a couple of years ago, that was exactly the case. So people would have to come, they’d have to know about the civil service. Usually, they’re route in to knowing about the civil services, as you’ve said Rosa, is they know somebody in the civil service, they’ve got some relative or some other connection. They have an understanding of what the civil service is about.

We’re probably one of the most invisible and confusing industries to work in that there is. We pretty much do everything. So we have jobs, like I said, from a policy wonk like me to somebody who works out your tax breakdown to somebody that’s a mechanic, who’s an engineer working on designing things for missile launches in the Ministry of Defense. You’ve got this amazing array of types of role and we don’t get that out there. So we’ve done a massive amount of work with graduates in particular but now we’re looking at taking that much, much broader. So where can we look at beyond graduates, really maximise for example, apprenticeships and where are we really able to get some better traction with a much broader community of people, prospective potential applicants into entry-level roles into the civil service.

Actually, all of the stuff that we’ve done is massive, so we run these internships … So we run two types of summer internships. One we call SDIP, the Summer Diversity Internship. The SDIP is a hugely successful program, we take on about 800 graduates or near graduates every year over the summer. It’s a paid internship and these are internships that are hugely varied and run all the way across the country in different kinds of roles. I have an intern starting with me in the summer who’s going to be learning about policymaking in the civil service.

Julia: And that’s over two to three months, a summer internship?

Jazz: Yes. So they’ll be with me for the whole of the summer period. So they’ll be with me from the end of June to the beginning of October, so it’s all of the huge long summer break from university, so they’ll be with me working. And real work, it’s not they’re going to sit and do photocopying. Actually in this case, the SDIP person who’s going to be joining me is going to be doing a huge project that we’re going to have to squeeze into just three months. But a huge project basically doing a review of all departmental plans on diversity and inclusion, and working with me to assess the quality of those plans. That’s a massive undertaking and really quite meaningful.

Julia: And Rosa, there is a debate about internships, which is about talent for free and that view of the world which is, again, not the topic of the podcast today but are you seeing corporates going, “Well, this is a very similar style. We’re seeing how well it’s working in the civil service.” Or are we still a long way from that?

Rosa: Yeah, absolutely. I think there is a lot of passion out there for corporates to be able to get young people in, especially from year 12 and up. That seems to be the key internship age, year 12 and year 13, so the two years of sixth form, when they’re between 16 and 18 years old. They’re really formative years and they’re about to go off to maybe university or into an apprenticeship, whichever route they decide to go down.

We have an internship program, the City of London Business Traineeship Programme, which focuses on year 13 students, getting them into work placement for 6 to 13 weeks over that summer between sixth form and the working world or sixth form and university, to really make sure that they’re able to get quality experiences of work. Again, it’s not just doing photocopying and sticking and stapling and things like that, but doing real work that’s going to add value to the organisation.

What we’ve seen when companies are doing things like that is that their talent pipelines and their talent pool start to change, and also their internal culture within the organisation starts to change. So when we have our young people going in say at year 13 and they’re doing absolutely incredible things in the organisation … We had one student last year who went into a recruitment firm and billed the highest bonus over the summer because he was absolutely phenomenal. The students are brilliant and once they’ve got into those areas, once they’ve had those first connections made, they’re able to really continue their careers within those sectors and the companies want them to come back. In fact, just over 25% of the students we’ve placed in professional and financial services over the last two years have gone back into working in those different companies.

But it really does depend on where companies are advertising those sorts of opportunities. So things like the civil service programs are widely advertised and it’s fantastic because young people are starting to hear about it. You’re already starting to hear people within secondary schools talking about the civil service and the fast track programs and things like that, which is amazing. However, you don’t necessarily see that with smaller internship programs or smaller work experience programs. So if you have a corporate who maybe hasn’t had the experience of working with different schools and they really want to do good, they want to be able to have an inclusive work experience program, but the only place that they’ve advertised it is on their website, you’re not going to get young people coming to you because they don’t know about you yet.

Julia: The appreciation of the potential sticking point, as in where you advertise or don’t advertise, and also that the creation of those summer projects that you want to bring interns to help you with, where does that sit? Does that sit with a business head or is it in HR or comms? Who mostly drives this?

Rosa: It varies from company to company. I think in the larger companies, if they’ve got a CSR team and a CSR team that talks to the HR team, doesn’t always happen, but if you-

Julia: That’s corporate social responsibility.

Rosa: Absolutely. So if they have a corporate social responsibility team and one that talks to the HR team, it works really well and they work well together to do these sorts of programs.

Julia: But somebody business-wise has to be involved in that discussion because they’re the ones … it’s a bit like the intern who is going to come and sit with you Jazz. You’ve got to be the buyer of the concept. What is it particularly in your appreciation of the value … Obviously, the intention to move the diversity inclusion numbers and metrics along and culturally, which Rosa was talking about as well, but when you’re defining that project for the summer, what is the real thing where you sit down and go, “This could add value to what I need to do today”?

Jazz: Okay. So when I’m defining that project for that individual who’s an intern to come and do it, it’s because they are going to bring a fresh brain. They’re going to be fully capable. The stuff I’m asking them to do isn’t rocket science but needs careful hard work and someone that’s going to be able to pay attention to detail. So what you’re getting usually with somebody that’s currently going through a degree, they’ve done whatever they do whether it’s an IB or an A Level or A Levels at sixth form, but you’re basically getting somebody who knows how to understand and process information and give you an outcome. So I want good analytical reasoning, I want somebody that’s able to understand the thing I’m asking them to look for, and that’s pretty straightforward stuff. But what you want is somebody that isn’t going to be rigid and inflexible in their ways of working; somebody that’s going to have some energy and enthusiasm.

And what’s really exciting for me … Well, hopefully, that’s what they get to do or that’s what they get to get involved in. What I get out of it, hopefully, is tapping into future talent. These are people who are going to be graduates. They’re going to be available to a very, very desperate hungry market. I want them to think of me first. I’m in competition with the finance sector, with every other sector – I want to get the best talent I possibly can. So if I offer great internships, they’re going to tell, and through word of mouth, as many people as possible I hope that, “Actually, working with the civil service was great for me over the summer. I want more of that. I think I can make a difference.” What I want for them to do is to do things that do make a difference. Doing the photocopying doesn’t feel very … Yes, it’s important. It needs doing. Somebody has to do it. But actually, if I want this to be proper early talent scheme, which is how we see our internships. We pay them, these aren’t free people that come in for us, we pay them and expenses, so this is an investment for us. The return on the investment is that future talent, and that’s really important to us.

But what’s really important, one of the things that we put in straight away was the mentorship and the coaching for interns and making sure that recognising that for very many, this is going to be the first time they’re in this kind of world of work. I remember my student years, I had many jobs, most of which were behind bars or in shops, various types, but none of them prepared me for this work that I do now. Actually what’s interesting is, I just wasn’t coached in that way. I had no life experience that helped me understand what it was to work in the culture environment that is a corporate or in my case, a big civil service organisation. So what we think is really important for some of our interns is to help them with that. Help them understand that this is the organisation we are. Let’s help you understand not just the work you’re doing but where you’re doing it. It’s easy in those three months just to have somebody detached, come in and they do a piece of work that’s quite discreet and then they leave, but actually we want them to come and work for us and knowing what they’re getting into, not just in terms of the content but the environment is really important.

Rosa: I think one of the challenges for young people is actually knowing how to express that they have those skills in the first place. So all of those incredible key skills that you were talking about before, the students do have them, they just don’t know how to showcase them to an employer. So it’s far from the students that want to go to an interview and start boasting about themselves, but it’s really getting them to train their minds to be like, “It’s not boasting. It’s just showing off your experience.” That’s something that I find that a lot of young people really do struggle with. So similarly, things like the mentoring, things like doing mock assessment centers are really useful for young people. If you say an assessment centre to a student, they’re not entirely show if they’re going for a mental examination or what they’re going to face when they get there, let alone a six or seven-hour interview with lots of different parts.

So really training them and getting them to actually just understand that it’s for their benefit. Because lots of people find it really difficult having a face-to-face interview but if you have maybe a activity where you’re going to be working with different types of people, an employer can really see you showcase your skills in action. If you’re going to be able to do a psychometric test while you’re there, you’re going to get to show them all of your written, your cognitive thinking on paper rather than having to express it verbally. It’s also for employers to start thinking about different ways they can put different types of assessments together to really make sure that they are giving young people, especially young people from backgrounds that they might not necessarily have known about the different types of recruitment processes they may face. But getting them to make sure that they understand how they can select the best young people and get them to really bring their skills to the fore.

Julia: So this is a perfect moment to turn to Cynthia and to Robert who have been on the lookout for research to support today’s discussion.

Robert: Access Accountancy, the 2017 report carried out by the Bridge Group, made a number of recommendations on how organisations can avoid overlooking a more diverse talent pool during the selection process.

Cynthia: Firstly, avoid using A Level or equivalent grades as a single filter for talent. The report highlights that school examinations were never designed to indicate how well someone would perform in a job and school attainment is strongly correlated with socioeconomic background.

Robert: Secondly, organisations should give careful consideration to the extent to which online tests are a precise tool for assessing required competencies. The research shows that early online tests are very effective at filtering out candidates from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and some ethnic minority groups, and the performance in these tests is only weakly correlated with performance at later stages of the selection process.

Cynthia: In 2017, the social mobility index measured the top 50 UK employers who had taken the most action to improve social mobility in the workplace. It’s believed to be the first ever social mobility employer index. The top 10 employers in the index include many names from the finance sector such as Grant Thornton, KPMG, Standard Life and Deloitte UK.

Robert: One of the key findings of the research consistently showed that people from more affluent backgrounds take a disproportionate number of the best jobs and its employers tend to disproportionately employ graduates who went to private schools and elite universities.

Julia: Thank you Cynthia and Robert. And always, links to the references and research could be found on our website, You can also sign up for early notifications of future episodes and please do follow us on Twitter, @divercitypod. You can find us on all good podcast channels and if you’ve enjoyed the show, we’d really appreciate a rating, it all helps promote the episodes.

So one of the things that strikes me as we’re talking is about the blend between what schools of academia are producing in terms of talent and then also what corporates and the civil service are needing. And quite often what I hear is that there’s a slight disconnect between is … Well, is the curriculum fit for purpose and concern around STEM skills, et cetera. Rosa, when you talk to organisations about that and when you go into the schools and talk about how they get their students ‘corporate-ready’, can you shed some example and give us some examples of some of the initiatives that are bringing those two worlds closer together?

Rosa: Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things that we’re really looking at at that STEM agenda is maths. So looking at maths in the classroom and how that can translate to maths in, say, the boardroom. So really trying to bring those two areas together. We’ve got our Maths in the City program which is looking directly at those links between GCSE and A Level maths and the working world. So you’ve got, say, a day in the life of a trader, a day in a life of an analyst, lots of different roles that use maths on a day-to-day basis. It’s a great way for the schools to be able to put what they’re teaching the young people in the classroom into a practical context. So the students will come out into an organisation and they’ll get to meet volunteers from across the business that do a range of roles that use maths on a day-to-day basis.

They will also do things like a speed networking, which is really simple. So everyone loves talking about themselves, they’ll talk about their jobs, talking to them about why or how they use math in their day-to-day life. It’s great when you have teams who are really passionate about the work that they do, working with a group of young people and getting the students to actually see that some of the new things that we’ve done, things like using algebra to calculate for an exchange transactions, plotting risk on a curve, that they’re doing in school all the time, and actually having that ‘aha’ moment, “Actually what we are learning in the classroom really does work in different roles.” Again it’s great for the companies to be able to showcase those roles where they want young people to be able to go into. They’ve got a massive gap in terms of the talent. They’re not able to fill those roles and they’re able to showcase them directly to the young people who are going to be applying for it.

Julia: What I think is really exciting about that is the fact that in this world of technological change where we’re looking at new innovation in the world of fintech is that a lot of those roles and those structures are changing all the time. So knowing that there’s a connection, what you thought you could do with your maths, you can do, because it’s how we define it. But also, going back into schools, to finding the new jobs and the jobs of tomorrow which is incredibly exciting, so thank you for that.

But there is one thing that I keep coming back to and we do this time, and time, and time again on these podcasts which is … This is all well and good, everybody’s talking about diversity inclusion, the world needs to know it changes. I imagine the listeners are nodding along, but the question is how do you benchmark success? Jazz, at the top of the show, you were talking about leadership and you were also talking about data. There isn’t a framework, there isn’t a standard for inclusion as we know it today. Is that something that you’re looking at?

Jazz: Absolutely, yeah. And I think you’re right. So on so many factors, there are standard data that we can use as organisations both to assess the progress that we’re making within our own organisations but actually, we’re really getting good at this healthy competition that we want to be-

Julia: Competition’s good. I love it!

Jazz: …And really looking at the ways in which we can start benchmarking against each other. Not just from a competitive spirit, which I’m all for, but actually so that we can identify who’s best in class, who’s really making a difference, who’s really putting their money where their mouth is and really being able to make change? Also being able to assess that change and know that we can measure like-for-like so that actually we’ve got some way of understanding who is best in class out there.

Julia: And who’s falling behind.

Jazz: And who’s falling behind, absolutely, and really being able to use that approach, that what we call transparency approach. The transparency of our data is really important. Now, in order for us to do that, we need some benchmarkable data and in the world of inclusion, we don’t have that. There are no standardised measures that organisations can use across the piece that give you comparable data on inclusion within organisations. If you asked four different organisations how they measure inclusion, we’d probably get about five or six different answers.

Julia: And they would all be very positive-

Jazz: And they’d all be very positive.

Julia: … and they’d all be very committed to diversity and inclusion.

Jazz: Yeah, absolutely. They would probably be in the same ballpark but the way in which you measure them, the denominators and numerators. I’m getting into my geeky bit here. But the ways in which you measure metrics will be different and so you’re not actually measuring like-for-like, you’re possibly measuring a pound of grapes as opposed to a grape for example. So really wanting to make sure that we’re able to have benchmarkable data, we need to create it. Now, the government’s job should be to lead and our job here really ought to be providing the mechanisms and the framework within which the whole society, not just the banking sector, but all employers, should be able to measure inclusion. So one of the things that we’ve committed to doing and the strategy we published towards the end of last year is to develop a set of inclusion metrics by which any organisation can adopt those measures, and we will then begin to have benchmarkable data. Not least, we’ve committed to being the most inclusive employer in the UK by 2020. How will we know? Because we don’t know how we compare to everybody else.

Julia: Is that with other industry parties? Because a lot of this is about being held accountable to that and think about the professional bodies associated in that setting of those benchmarks. Are you working with third parties on that?

Jazz: So we’ve committed to working with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, CIPD. And CIPD really want to be making sure that diversity and inclusion is a core component of the qualities and characteristics of professional HR in the future, so they’re going to be working with us really closely as well as that wide range of partners from the corporate sectors to make sure that we come up with a set of inclusion metrics that we can all buy into, we can all use and we’ll all find helpful so that we’re able to benchmark against each other and therefore, find out who’s top of the class, who needs to work harder and really be able to provide that grit in the system to really improve.

Julia: Is that due to come out this year or what’s your timetable for that?

Jazz: Yeah. So we’re about to embark on the work. If anybody’s ever devised metrics for measure across a whole range of different environments, they know this isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. So we think this is about a year to 18 months’ worth of work. By 2020, we want to be able to have these measures and benchmark within the entire civil service for ourselves, so we know where we are in terms of our inclusion, but we would like to be able to benchmark against other organisations at that time as well. So by 2020, we want to have a set of measures that are ready out there, being benchmarked and being used.

Julia: Fantastic. And there are many reasons to be very optimistic, one is to have that benchmarking. The second is to look at how schools are thinking about how they engage and curate skills fit for purpose in the workplace and also how the organisations, financial services and other industry bodies and corporates are coming together to attract this talent so we can ultimately drive diversity. It’s been a fantastic conversation. I want to thank you both very much indeed. Rosa and Jazz, thank you.

Jazz: Thank you.

Rosa: Thank you.

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 the guests on this week’s show on our website, Whilst you’re there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates. To be sure of catching all our future podcasts, subscribe to our feed on iTunes or your favourite podcast app. And if you’ve enjoyed this episode of DiverCity Podcast, remember to give us a rating or review. It all helps promote the show to a wider audience. Finally, our Twitter handle is @DiverCityPod. Thanks for listening.