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

Posted on March 2020

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What role can recruitment play in creating a gender-balanced workforce throughout the financial services industry? James Findlay, Relationship Director, UK & EMEA, shares his thoughts for International Women's Day 2020.


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

Selby Jennings focuses solely on banking and financial services—a sector that has historically experienced a massive imbalance in gender representation. So International Women's Day is great for further raising awareness that there is still a lot of work to be done before we have a truly equal industry.

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

Pushing greater gender equality is an effort being undertaken by nearly all of our clients, but the important question we always ask is why is it important to them? If it is simply a box-tick exercise to save reputation, then realistically they are adding to the problem, not providing a cure. So educating our clients on the genuine benefit of a more diverse workforce becomes paramount in all our interactions.

What role can recruiters play in creating an equal world?

Not having biases ourselves, as recruiters, is crucial. We are often the sharp end of the recruitment process, speaking with future employees of institutions before they might have even considered them a viable career choice. If we don't provide a fair platform for candidates to be represented to our clients, then we are certainly furthering the problem rather than helping drive diversity.

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

I firmly believe that it is all about finding a balance between affirmative action and genuine equality. Companies need to ensure they get the 'best' candidate for that particular role, but at the same time create a level playing field for applicants. Most companies have trialed various forms of creating equality in their process, whether it be blind interviews; diverse panels; 50/50 shortlists. But at the end of the day, it comes down to taking measures to eliminate unconscious bias even before any potential incumbents are being represented. That requires an industry-wide shift in mindset and further appreciation of the fact that greater diversity creates greater performance—even financially.

James Findlay heads the client services and business development functions for Selby Jennings across the UK and EMEA. He is responsible for managing Selby Jenning's relationships with key partners and ensures that we continue to deliver a top-tier service across all our market verticals. For advice on building a diverse hiring strategy, get in touch with him.

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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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