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International Women's Day 2020: An Interview with James Warnaby

Posted on March 2020

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The race is on for a gender equal workforce throughout banking and financial services. Women now share 42.9% of employment in financial service and insurance activities, but only a small proportion of senior positions. At the current rate of progress, female representation at executive level is set to hit 30% by 2048. James Warnaby, director of Selby Jennings, London, discusses the unique position that recruiters play in furthering gender equality in financial services.

The 2020 International Women’s Day theme is that an equal world is an enabled world. What does that mean to you in financial services?

In recent times, the financial services industry has received notable scrutiny for its lack of gender diversity. It is pleasing to see that majority of our clients recognize the need to for a more gender-balanced workplace; and there are clear actions in place to make this happen. As with anything, this is a process and one that needs constant focus and involvement from all stakeholders.

What sort of conversations around gender equality do you have with clients and candidates in your sector?

Gender equality is increasingly being required by our clients when it comes to working mandates. As one of their recruitment partners, conversations around this topic cover both the reasons why this drive is necessary, as well as detailed discussions around the strategy we use to attract diverse talent and what more they can do to drive female applicants.

What role can recruiters play in creating an equal world?

As recruiters we are in a fortunate, and very important, position in that we have an overview of what is happening in the industry as a whole. It is important that we share knowledge and experiences on gender balance efforts with both our clients and candidates, as improving gender equality across the industry is a combined effort and process. We have a responsibility to ensure that the shortlists we introduce to our clients are gender-balanced, where possible, to directly impact the evolving demographic within their workplaces.

As with any demand, there is the matter of supply. One of the biggest challenges we face to immediately address gender inequality in financial services is the limited amount of available talent. Given the historic lack of focus on driving women to relevant educational fields, there are a lack of entry-level female candidates, depending on the role and sector, available to then filter through the talent pipeline into leadership positions. It's going to take time to see radical improvement.

What advice would you give to a company trying to create a diverse hiring strategy?

The main advice I offer to our clients is that diverse hiring and gender balance is a process, and one that is going to take time to really solve. The need for a more gender-balanced workforce is agreed by all our clients, but there are various strategies in place and these are continuously changing. Collectively, it is important that we work together to address the imbalance in the current working population. However, we need to pay particular attention to the efforts to drive diversity in the new generation that is entering financial services. Whether that's through partnerships with universities or earlier on, we need successful strategies to draw women into the industry when they are just at the beginning stages of the careerthis is where the long term fix is going to happen.

James Warnaby heads Selby Jennings' London business, which focuses on mandates in the UK and Europe (excluding Germany). James is responsible for ensuring that Selby Jennings provides the very best service to our candidates and clients in the specialist verticals we cover. Get in touch with James for advice on how to create a diverse hiring strategy.

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About us

Selby Jennings is a leading specialist recruitment agency for banking and financial services. For more than 15 years, we have given clients and candidates peace of mind that the recruitment process is in expert hands. Our continual investment in best-in-class technologies and consultant training enables us to recruit with speed, precision and accuracy. Today, Selby Jennings provides permanent, contract and multi-hire recruitment from our global hubs all over the world.

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