FCA outlines ambitious plans to elevate diversity in financial sector


The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is taking substantial steps to enhance diversity within the financial services sector.

Through recently unveiled consultation papers, the regulator’s new proposals are geared towards fostering diversity and inclusivity. These measures not only champion a healthier work culture but also actively counteract groupthink, a phenomenon that can stifle innovation and progress.

Beyond cultivating a more inclusive environment, the FCA believes these changes will bolster the overall safety and efficacy of firms while catering to a more diverse consumer base.

Furthermore, in a bid to create a safer work environment, the regulator has set forth rules and guidance that categorise misconducts, including bullying and sexual harassment, as tangible risks to a company’s culture. This clear directive equips firms with the authority to take firm actions against those who engage in such behaviour.

FCA Chief Executive Nikhil Rathi noted, “For UK financial services to be competitive and for the companies in it to be well run with healthy work environments, its vital they attract, retain and promote the best talent. The data suggests this isn’t happening. Our proposals will encourage the largest firms to put in place plans and report against their delivery.”

He further added, “UK financial services has long been a magnet for best-in-class talent globally. Increasing levels of diversity within firms can help attract and unlock talent, supporting the sector’s international competitiveness.”

PRA Chief Executive Sam Woods stated, “Diversity and inclusion play an important role in guarding against groupthink within firms. Firms in which a broad range of perspectives is welcomed and encouraged will manage their risks better, advancing the PRA’s objective of safety and soundness.”

The FCA and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) are not operating in a vacuum. They acknowledge the progress made by government-led initiatives such as the Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter, the Parker Review, and the FTSE Women Leaders Review.

Their new proposals set a flexible yet demanding standard, especially for larger firms. These standards revolve around developing comprehensive diversity strategies, data collection and reporting on specific metrics, and addressing under-representation by setting tangible targets.

The core objective remains the enhancement of diversity, which in turn is expected to elevate internal governance, risk management, and decision-making processes within firms. The consultation on these proposals remains open until 18 December 2023.

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