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Diversity and Inclusion in Finance and Accounting
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Diversity and Inclusion in Finance: Aiding Recruitment and Retention

​Why DEI Improves Financial Performance and Talent Acquisition in Finance & Accounting

Professionals working within accounting and finance play a vital role in driving economic growth and stability in businesses. However, the success of even the most well-known brands can be hampered by a lack of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within its teams.

Whilst the accountancy profession relies on financial acumen and accuracy, inclusivity and diversity matter too. It is a topic that is seeing more of a focus in 2024 with businesses recognising that promoting diversity in the workplace can offer a strategic advantage.

The Benefits of a Diverse Team: Making Better Decisions

Imagine a boardroom of leaders. They all come from the same socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, are all the same gender, and have a similar age. Whilst those leaders will experience a sense of harmony in their understanding of and approach to challenging periods, they have a limited outlook. 

Promoting diversity and inclusion in finance is crucial to building a strong team that generates new and innovative ideas with the ability to consider all viewpoints. In a world where financial markets are dynamic and global, a diversity of thought is essential for decision-making processes. 

Financial professionals from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds bring unique perspectives and lived experiences to the table. This helps identify potential risks not highlighted by a team of professionals with similar backgrounds and encourages richer discussions and innovative solutions.

A study found that companies with the most diverse executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability metrics. Therefore, promoting ethnic diversity, as well as gender diversity, and social diversity in the finance sector is crucial for attracting a multitude of skill sets to your team and enhancing performance.

How Equity Attracts Top Talent 

The finance and accounting industry is notoriously competitive. Attracting and retaining talent is vital for the long-term success of a business.

By ensuring fair and unbiased hiring practices, organisations not only widen their applicant pool but can also hire the best talent by reaching out to a diverse population of forward-thinking professionals in the finance sector. 

This creates a level playing field where everyone has a fair shot at demonstrating their skills and qualifications. Eliminating unconscious bias in job descriptions and interview processes levels the ground for people with disabilities, those from LGBTQ+ communities, and individuals from underrepresented socioeconomic backgrounds.

How Inclusion in Accounting Empowers a High-Performing Team

Highly skilled individuals thrive in environments in which they feel valued, respected, and free to communicate their unique perspectives and ideas. Businesses should make an effort to improve inclusivity in teams as it brings together professional Accountants with diverse talents and empowers them to make bold decisions. 

An inclusive workplace promotes a sense of belonging, allowing everyone to voice their ideas and concerns without fear of judgment. This leads to higher levels of engagement, increased collaboration, and a more dynamic approach to problem-solving.

Studies show that highly engaged employees are 17% more productive, have lower absenteeism rates, and are more likely to be customer champions. In the finance industry, a strong and engaged team translates to a significant competitive edge.

Putting it into Practice: Cultivating a Diverse and Inclusive Place to Work

How can the financial sector translate these principles into tangible action? Here are a few ways to improve your hiring process so it is geared towards a commitment to diversity:

  • Review and update your recruitment process: Refresh job descriptions and engage interviewers. Consider partnering with diversity and inclusion consultancies to identify areas for improvement.

  • Focus on skills and experience: Prioritise demonstrably strong financial skills, relevant industry experience, and a proven track record of success over subjective, potentially biased criteria.

  • Widen your talent pool: Partner with universities and Recruitment Consultancies across the UK that commit themselves to building diverse workplaces and work with individuals from communities experiencing underrepresentation. Consider implementing or improving your hybrid working policy so you can reach out to candidates from a wider set of demographics. 

Boosting Workplace Diversity Through Onboarding

  • Create an inclusive onboarding experience: Develop a comprehensive onboarding program that promotes a sense of belonging for new hires from all backgrounds. Provide clear communication about the company culture, expectations, and growth opportunities. Keep in contact with new hires during the period of accepting a role and starting to make them feel welcome and valued.

  • Invest in mentorship programs: Pair new hires with experienced mentors who can provide guidance and support to help them navigate the company culture. Mentors can be particularly valuable for individuals from underrepresented groups who have unique needs or may be facing unique challenges.

  • Celebrate diversity: Recognise and celebrate the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of your employees. Organise events and activities that promote understanding and appreciation of different cultures,

  • Continuously assess progress: Regularly monitor your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts by tracking hiring metrics, employee engagement surveys, and conducting focus groups with employees from diverse backgrounds. Consistent feedback allows for ongoing improvement and ensures your initiatives are effective.

A Sustainable Future for Diversity and Inclusion in Finance

By recognising the importance of diversity and inclusion in Accounting, businesses can position themselves for improved financial performance through better decision-making processes and a wider talent pool. It also contributes to a more vibrant and unbiased financial landscape. The need to embrace racial diversity, social diversity, and different sexual orientations is vital for the enrichment of the working lives of current employees and future employees.

The journey towards being a truly diverse team that champions inclusivity requires a significant commitment from key people within organisations. There are plenty of online resources to leverage when trying to embrace diversity, including advice from the CIPD website.

By creating a diverse workforce that celebrates differences, leverages the power of varied perspectives, and encourages unbiased recruitment processes, financial institutions can build a more sustainable future for themselves and the global economy.

Businesses must make diversity a priority, not only to aid recruitment and retention but to improve their workplace culture and employee sense of belonging.