The Investment Association (IA) has laid out guidelines for investment management firms to recruit from the wider class spectrum.
Firms should end bias in recruitment by moving away from only considering degree qualifications, to look at other qualifications and life experiences that “paint a fuller picture of applicants’ qualities and capabilities”.
The trade body is headed by Chris Cummings, who points out that he grew up in a council house in a mining town in the north of England.
He said that for many people from a similar background to him, a job in financial services can feel out of reach or inaccessible.
The IA - whose report coincides with National Inclusion Week - said asset managers could start removing a bias towards certain candidates by avoiding a focus on the way someone dresses or speaks at interview.
This would potentially see more firms “recruiting for potential rather than just polish”.
Other recommendations are:
- Reduce the number of requirements asked for in a job description to the essentials, as relevant skills can also be gained after employment and through training.
- Consider measuring the social background of current staff to spot a ‘class pay gap’ or similar inequalities in the workforce. The IA report -which is called ‘Tackling the class ceiling’ - found that people from working class backgrounds earn a quarter less each year than those from professional backgrounds.
- Expanding the talent pool by broadening outreach to schools, FE colleges and universities outside the range of standard elite institutions.
The IA also recommends that firms seek role models in people from different socio-economic backgrounds.
“Talking about social class and the journey people from different social backgrounds take into the City arguably remains one of the last social taboos [for the industry],” he said.
CFA UK, a professional body, has previously found that socio-economic inclusion in the investment management industry is at the “forefront of investment professionals’ minds”.
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