• Mel Newton, Partner |
3 min read

We can objectively see that there are many business benefits from delivering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) - increased profitability, faster innovation, better decision making, customer experience improvement, as well as decreased risk are just a few. On top of these factors, many of us believe it is simply ‘the right thing to do’. 

Importantly, with high competition for skilled resources across the Financial Services sector more recently, we can’t afford to alienate or, at best, ignore a significant proportion of the candidate population when other sectors are making better progress.  We know from the work of the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC), amongst others, that digital skills are in great and increasing demand, yet we also know that the STEM subjects which feed these capabilities are overwhelmingly studied by young men rather than women. It hasn’t changed all that much since I studied computer science and was one of three women out of a class of 60!

We have been pretty good at telling a compelling story, with a peak in DEI strategies in insurance in 2020, but much of our continuing effort is still focused on running employee network groups and awareness training. This simply isn’t making the difference we need.

Instead, we should start addressing DEI as we do any other change or transformation initiative. We need to set up a strategic programme; think finance transformation or cloud data migration.  

It’s time to sit up and take action! Here’s how:

The ABI’s recently published Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Blueprint sets out a clear approach based on attract, grow and advance, and I think there are some really fundamental actions that are akin to any other transformation programme that need to be embedded in the business:

  • Base-line. Fully understand the ‘as is’ and the problem statement – what do you want to address and are you clear about where you are today? The earlier you base-line the greater the movement.
  • A bold and truly compelling business case for change.  We’d all like to think we would drive DEI because it’s the right thing to do. Unfortunately, as we all know, we have competing priorities in the eyes of our shareholders, regulators, employees and Board, so the case for change needs to align to the overall business vision and strategy, contributing to wider business KPIs.
  • Consider all your existing and potential levers for change. How do these impact individual groups as well as intersections? At KPMG, we group these under 4 pillars: leadership, talent, fair systems and processes, and our collective voice.
  • Set up your DEI programme properly. Align and engage sponsors (including personal objectives), define budget, resources and, above all, measurable outcomes.  Put programme governance in place – collect data, report, measure and monitor against it to track changes over time. Convene a steering committee to check and challenge outcomes. Develop a plan and consider an agile approach with 3-monthly sprints to test and learn the most impactful change initiatives and then transition these into business as usual.
  • Focus and prioritise. Don’t try to do everything at once. 
  • Track progress – not just the core stats, but outcomes. In 2022, we published extensive analysis into progression rates at KPMG, examined through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens over a 5-year period. This has allowed us to assess the impact our programmes and interventions are having and evolve our action accordingly.
  • Celebrate success loud and clear. This will provide impetus for further work, and advancements in DEI deserve to be celebrated.

What’s stopping you?

Making a start can be daunting, but a strategic approach with programme capabilities will enable faster progress. If you have any questions on how to deliver greater DEI in your organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.