UK finance professionals urged to sign diversity code

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – A global body for financial sector qualifications set out on Wednesday its first diversity, equity and inclusion code in Britain, just as regulators pile pressure on the industry to hire more women and ethnic minority staff.

The U.S. headquartered CFA Institute has already rolled out a version of the voluntary code in the United States and Canada, where it has so far been adopted by more than 160 investment organisations, representing around $18.3 trillion in assets under management.

It tailors the code to local laws and practices, and the UK version is based on six principles covering expansion of a diverse pipeline of talent, hiring practices that promote diversity, ensuring that promotions and retention help progress in diversity, and measuring and reporting on progress.

It does not set targets or timelines.

The CFA Institute has 200,000 members globally, with about 12,000 in Britain.

Signatories to the code will provide a confidential, annual progress report to the CFA Institute, which will report industry-wide figures once a critical mass of signatories is reached.

It comes on top of initiatives such as the Women in Finance charter backed by the finance ministry, which are well established and supported, although progress has been uneven. A finance ministry review in June 2022 found that Britain’s six-year drive to increase the number of women in senior management at financial firms was “stagnating” for the first time.

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority and Bank of England have just proposed new requirements for large banks and insurers to set targets to improve diversity and inclusion.

“The regulator sets the mandatory baseline, we can look to aspirational goals,” said Sarah Maynard, global senior head, external diversity, equity and inclusion, at the CFA Institute.

Given the global nature of finance, the CFA is also looking at how the code can help join up different national initiatives.

Maynard said the code also addressed areas which the FCA does not at the moment, such as equity, or fairness of access and promotion for staff from less privileged backgrounds or education.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Potter)