LWF D&I Event: A forensic approach to Diversity Data at the House of Parliament

Nov 20, 2019 | Research

London Womens Forum Networking London

As part of the London Women’s Forum updated strategy, we have embarked on a research initiative to support the wider gender agenda and demonstrate certain gender challenges with a focus on financial services. The first of such research pieces is the report produced by New Financial  ‘A forensic approach to diversity data’, which is proudly sponsored by London Women’s Forum.

This report was introduced at an event hosted at Houses of Parliament on November 4th, in association with All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), by kind permission of Dame Eleanor Laing, MP. It was a super insightful evening, with a very welcoming and empowering opening from LWF’s Ambassador Mary MacLeod, and with enriching presentations from Yasmine Chinwala, Partner at New Financial, and Julia Hoggett, Director, Market Oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). We also had a super buzzing networking drinks afterwards with all of our wonderful guests!

Below are key summary highlights from the presentations, and we hope you find them as interesting as all the guests did during the event.

As next steps, the official report will be officially launched on December 2nd , and LWF will share with all its members.

We hope you enjoy this reading, and any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch with us!

Best Wishes

Yasmine Chinwala, Partner at think tank called New Financial, talked about her forthcoming research, A forensic approach to diversity data, which is sponsored by London Women’s Forum.

New Financial provided data on female representation to Jayne-Anne Gadhia’s government-backed Empowering Productivity review of senior women in financial services, and it is HM Treasury’s data partner on the Women in Finance Charter monitoring the progress of signatories against their Charter commitments, which offers it unparalleled insight into how financial services companies are approaching the challenge of increasing female representation at senior levels.

Yasmine believes taking a forensic approach to diversity data is vital if the industry is to drive a step change in diversity. Her research explores a shift, particularly amongst the most progressive firms, to rethink, revamp and in some cases completely overhaul their approach to how and what diversity data they collect, how it is being analysed, who gets to see it and how it is then being used to hold hiring managers to account.

Top 5 takeaways from Yasmine’s presentation:

Key drivers: Gender pay gap reporting and HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter targets are increasing the appetite for more and better diversity data, particularly for financial services firms which are all about numbers. At the same time firms have improved their capacity for analysing big data trends, and the HR and D&I functions have been able to leverage number crunching capacity from other parts of the business, which also reinforces diversity as a business issue.

What data is being analysed: The main trend is from static demographic data to mapping the lifecycle of employees, showing a breakdown by gender of staff at key points as they move through the organisation. The research found examples of companies tracking gender ratios not just for headcount by division, function and seniority, but also through all stages of recruitment (e.g. applications, longlists, shortlists, interview stage, offers, acceptances), promotions and attrition, with the more advanced looking at performance rating and even work allocation.

Planning a diversity data dashboard: The next step is to work out what the key data indicators are that will go into the dashboard. All the firms New Financial featured in the research spent a significant amount of time on this phase, to feel satisfied the data was consistent and robust and was providing the most useful information. This process provided another opportunity for firms to get buy-in from senior leaders and their contributions strengthened the integrity of the dataset.

Who sees the data: The research found quite a variety of approaches to who saw the data – for some firms it went to the executive committee, for other it was heads of business lines, and for some it went to senior managers. The more advanced firms are sharing the data lower down the chain to hiring managers who are the one that can really effect change.

How is the data being used: This level of granular data allows real time challenge that can influence change as the decision is being made. It focuses activity by showing where the key barriers are, and can inform possible actions points to overcome those barriers, and measure the impact of those actions. And again reinforcing diversity as a business issue, the data can be used to set targets and be incorporated into KPIs, just like any other business indicator.

Call to action for London Women’s Forum members!

  • Think about which elements of this discussion resonate with you, and what might resonate within your firm
  • What can you do to create appetite in your organisation for granular diversity data?
  • Are you able to find out what diversity data your company tracks right now?
  • When the New Financial report A Forensic Approach to Data pings into your inbox next month, please take it to the decision makers in your firm and ask them if they want to take their diversity data to the next level.
  • We all know that financial services is an industry that thrives on data. Let’s crack diversity data and show how the industry can thrive on diversity and data.

Julia Hoggett, Director of Market Oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority also spoke at the event about the FCA’s view on diversity, as well as talking about how the FCA updated its approach to its own diversity data, as the FCA was one of the case studies in New Financial’s report.

Why is diversity important to the FCA?

Julia: From an internal point of view, the FCA fundamentally believes that being a more diverse and inclusive regulator makes us a better regulator. We have long moved past a view that it is ‘just the right thing to do’ to the perspective that it is necessary to ensure we deliver the FCA’s mission. From a regulatory point of view, over the last two-to-three years, the FCA has become increasingly vocal about why we believe diversity and inclusion is critical within the industries we regulate as well. Fundamentally, we believe diverse and inclusive organisations are critical to making good judgements and good risk judgements. So, in short, diversity and inclusion, we believe, sits at the centre of our regulatory agenda.

Why did the FCA decide to improve data capacity?

Julia: I don’t believe that you can have an effective D&I strategy without a data strategy. The FCA always seeks to be evidence led – and we should be no different in this regard.

As a consequence, we have a range of things that we measure in three main areas:

1) We seek to understand the perceived experience of our staff by protected characteristic and social mobility compared to the lived experience of those staff.

2) We commit ourselves, or are statutorily committed, to certain benchmarks that we need to measure – for example gender and BAME pay gaps and our Women in Finance Charter commitments.

3) The enormous internal data mining and dashboarding we now do to understand at more granular detail the distribution not only of populations across the FCA but also of opportunities. This dashboarding is seeking to both describe the diversity position within the FCA, but also understand the drivers of that position and therefore what we can best do to address and improve it.

What impact has this diversity data strategy had so far?

Julia: The act of measuring what we do has already had a transformational impact. It has generated targeted interventions around specific hiring pathways – i.e. not just how we think about the gender or BAME distribution of our senior leadership team, but how we are thinking about talent development throughout the organisation. It has led us, for example, to trial diverse interview panels – this was driven by analysis of data about the progress of candidates through the recruitment process. So, our data has given us specific potential interventions and specific areas of focus within certain populations. It has also held senior leadership to account for their actions and for their hiring decisions – which I am certain has had an impact.

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