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Diversity in the Workplace: The Key to Sustainable Growth through Inclusive Hiring and Pipeline Retention

Written by: Evie Courtier
Published on: 28 Nov 2023


The importance of diverse hiring is a topic that drives the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter - striving towards equality, seven years after its launch. The Charter now holds more than 400 signatories, including GAAPweb, covering more than a million employees across the sector.

Two-thirds of signatories note the Charter as a significant driver of permanent and sustainable change across their organisations, helping them maintain their focus on increasing female representation as they move into the next phase of their diversity efforts. For the remaining untapped third, the majority expect to see innovative action across their organisations within the next five years.

Respondents cited that the main challenge in meeting the charter, lies with the shortage of diverse talent in recruitment pools, challenging momentum as they approach their target, alongside an inadequate internal pipeline of women coming through the ranks. With evidence dictating that diverse companies perform better, we question why companies are reluctant to enhance their recruitment practices. As shown by a BlackRock study of the MSCI World index, (source: Financial Times), organisations with a gender-balanced workforce outperformed their lesser-balanced counterparts by as much as 2% annually between 2013 and 2022.

Amanda Blanc, CEO of Aviva and the UK Government’s Women in Finance Champion, denoted the importance of a diverse pipeline with opportunity and fair environments. As Amanda recalled, ‘there’s a pressure on recruiters to fill a role quickly…it’s easy to just call someone up for the position, leading to a slipping on standards that allow new and diverse talent to shine’. ‘Fixing the pipeline is key, there is not a shortage of diverse talent - we simply need equal opportunity, alongside a fair and encouraging environment at all levels to attract and nurture diverse applicants.’

With the UK charter focusing on equality across senior roles, signatories, such as Catherine Johnson of the London Stock Exchange Group, presented their breakthrough of meeting their 40% target of women in senior positions. As Catherine Johnson remarked, the continuity of pushing for equality, ensures that “diversity becomes part of the daily narrative”. The LSEG now strives to expand to other areas of diversity, including ensuring the hiring of women in mid-level positions in the pipeline.

With subtle breakthroughs, evidence from the GAAPweb 2023 salary survey, dictates that the goal of gender parity across senior roles, is coming closer to reach. By example, 52% of those in Finance Manager jobs are now women. This being said, CFO roles, with an 82% majority are still heavily monopolised by men. As highlighted within the salary survey, the median salary for male respondents stands at 22% higher than their female counterparts, with the average salary for female accountancy and finance professionals standing at £58,234. Since our survey analysis began in 2018, the pay gap has narrowed by a mere 4%. If this rate of change continues, the goal of salary parity between genders won’t be met until 2051.

Moving away from the senior focus, Dr Hellen Russell, Head of Social Research Division, Economic and Social Research Institute, representing the Irish Charter, announced the goal of equal female/male representation at all levels, not just senior. Since starting in 2022, the Irish Charter has received 78 signatories. The driving force behind the commencement of the Irish Charter, lied with industry bodies, followed by data groups and finally the government. The Irish Charter aims to see:

• Firms develop female talent, encouraging signatories to share experiences to help one another.
• Improved diversity in leadership - an aim important for decision making as it needs to be representative of society.
• A consistent gathering of data to ensure a clear understanding.

Alanna Barber, Deputy Director of Banking and Credit, at HM Treasury, noted that the application of the Charter to the whole pipeline is key to ensuring future maintenance of diversity. Nurturing diverse applicants and employees throughout the pipeline is vital. As noted in our ‘Diversity in Recruitment: How Firms are Taking Measures to Close the Gender Pay Gap’ article, driving change across all sectors, comes with enhancing diverse recruitment practices, from targeted training and accountability frameworks, to diverse interview panels.

The importance of diverse hiring, herein lies not only with the employer improving recruitment practice, yet also with the candidate. With the UK charter focusing on equality across senior roles, we turn to Jacquie Duckworth, co-founder of Univisibility; an initiative curated to 'unleash the power of midlife women', fast tracking mid-life creatives into senior roles. As stated by Jacquie Duckworth, women aged 45 plus seem to disappear off the hiring ladder. ‘Twice as many women than men have left the workforce since the pandemic’, and ‘a third of mothers have scaled back or left their jobs since lockdown’.

The ‘Visible Start’ programme has been co-designed by Jacquie Duckworth as a part of Uninvisibility, to provide women with a complete support system, aiding confidence and self-belief, ability, and fundamental knowledge and skills needed to re-join the workforce. The Visible Start programme consists of 8 weeks of free online learning and events, run on the Visible Society Platform around a flexible schedule, and hosted by industry experts.

The course has been designed to:

• Build confidence through live events and our mentorship programme.
• Provide networking opportunities with peers and industry leaders.
• Learn practical skills and tools and how to stand out from the crowd.
• Enact career readiness training.

As one participant quoted, “Visible Start has helped me regain confidence in my skills and value my experience regardless of my age. I now believe that I still have a lot to offer to the workforce and I believe I’m even in a better place with all the experience I’ve accumulated over the years.”

The culmination of confidence building, employability and expert training, not only helps women re-enter the workforce, yet reiterates the importance of diverse hiring, and taking the time to find the right candidate for the role. GAAPweb stands at the start of the pipeline - we are dedicated to encouraging a fair recruitment process and opportunity.


Discover the latest finance roles on site, from specialist finance recruitment consultancies, top accountancy practices, public sector bodies and commercial organisations.

Visit our ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ blog for further information on diverse hiring practices; alternatively download our salary survey for insight into the world of equal representation and pay.