Diversity in Financial Services

But what about the White Guy?

Bev Shah
CEO, City Hive

Our biases and views are shaped by our personal identity and life experiences, so role models play a huge part in how people behave, what they think is acceptable and when they will step out of their comfort zone.

In all this talk about diversity there is one group that isn’t being mentioned unless it’s to demonise – the White Guy. We have, dare I say, “Token” senior white male diversity champions shining a light on equality and the benefits of diversity and then you have the silent majority who are getting on with their day job and have been side-lined and villainised for a situation created unconsciously by no single person but instead from years of apathy and acceptance of the status quo.

So how do you include and engage positively with a group that has been branded as “Stale Pale Male”. A group who may not recognise the privileged position society puts them in and feel threatened their career progression is now being unfairly hampered. Ironically, you do it in the same way you make the talent pool more diverse – change company culture and highlight role models.

Company Culture
There is no formula or cheat sheet on how to change your company culture so all your employees feel their work environment is an inclusive community and where every employee works for the betterment of the bottom line, their colleagues and society. Company culture has often evolved over decades, shaped by employment policies and working practises so it is unrealistic to expect to see that change overnight, particularly when you need your entire workforce to challenge their own core biases and beliefs.

But a little bit like parenting, if you set out a zero-tolerance policy for negative attitudes and reward good conduct with everyone charged with the responsibility to see a change you will start to see a revolution in behaviour that is eventually just seen as normal. KPIs are an effective way to ensure everyone feels included in the change that is happening.

Role Models
Our biases and views are shaped by our personal identity and life experiences, so role models play a huge part in how people behave, what they think is acceptable and when they will step out of their comfort zone. Professional white men are currently going through an identity crisis. They are now publicly expected to be supportive husbands to career women and hands on dads. So, we need trailblazing role models. Men who openly work dynamically and flexibly, take parental leave and embrace all that is positive about the diversity movement – not just a few senior leaders that are seen as the advantaged exception not the rule.

On November 19th it will be International Men’s Day. A day that promotes gender equality as well as a time to reflect on the positive aspects of male identity – that males of all ages respond more energetically to positive role models than they do to negative gender stereotyping. And I will certainly be celebrating this with the same fervour as International Women’s Day on March 8th.

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