President and CEO, Hilltop Securities Inc.
A 2017 McKinsey & Company study showed that in North America, over half of the entry-level positions in the financial services industry were held by women, but they account for less than 20 percent of C-suite roles. In order to make effective, sustained progress toward increasing diversity throughout the industry, today’s leaders must be proactive, passionate, and committed to change.
Our industry serves diverse clients from a variety of backgrounds in communities from coast to coast. If our firms do not reflect this same level gender, racial, and geographic diversity, we put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage. A more diverse workforce is a smarter workforce, able to deliver more innovative solutions by drawing from a broader spectrum of ideas and experiences.
Industry leaders must prioritize efforts to increase diversity throughout our organizations. While these initiatives may begin at the top, the commitment should extend to our frontline employees, especially to our recruiting teams.
One of the most important first steps may seem obvious in hindsight, but it is an often overlooked part of the hiring process. If you expect to hire diverse employees, you must target a diverse pool of candidates.
It is easy to fall into a hiring rut, returning to the same well of universities or graduate programs to find new talent. But to increase the diversity of your workforce, you should expand your search to institutions recognized for supporting and developing the candidates you seek. It is also important to target a variety of geographic regions and markets when hiring.
Continued diversity efforts
Hiring diverse candidates is only the first step. Once on board, you must give them the tools they need to succeed by soliciting their input, engaging their ideas, and providing them with opportunities tailored to their strengths. Mentoring and training programs are vital to ensuring the long-term success of diversity initiatives.
Increasing the number of women in the financial services industry — especially in leadership positions — benefits our clients and our firms. It will not happen overnight, but with sustained commitment and proactive outreach our industry can succeed in more accurately reflecting the diversity of the communities we serve.