Last week, on behalf of Jersey Finance, I signed the Institute of Directors Jersey (IoD) Vision Statement in support of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace.
This is an excellent initiative and one which the local IoD can be justifiably proud. As the industry representative body Jersey Finance believes it should show leadership through our support of the initiative and encourage our members firms to do likewise.
In wider society, 2020 has already seen several milestones which mark some positive progress in recognising the need for diversity across the board.
For example, in politics, the UK appointed its first female ambassador to the US, and in the entertainment world, for the first time, a non-English-language feature film won Best Picture at the Oscars.
March is also the month the world celebrates International Women’s Day (8 March).
Thinking of these developments and celebrations, it felt timely to take a closer look at how far Jersey’s finance industry has come in relation to diversity.
I often refer to the expertise found on our Island, with an almost 14,000-strong financial services workforce. It’s what sets Jersey apart from other international finance centres. But there’s also value in the diversity of our workforce. In fact, independent research proposes that productivity can be increased by hiring a diverse workforce.
On gender diversity, for example, a recent FT article highlighted that nearly one in five FTSE 350 companies were cautioned over a lack of women on their board and executive committees. These companies must now put in place an action plan to improve the gender balance in top jobs by the end of 2020.
In Jersey, I believe we’ve made positive progress on gender diversity.
One example is last week’s CityWealth Powerwomen Awards – now in its seventh year. I’m extremely proud of the two awards Jersey Finance won at this event, which aims to recognise both individuals and companies who maximise the potential of women in the wealth sector. Jersey Finance won Company of the Year – Female Leadership (Gold) and Lisa Springate, our Head of Legal and Technical, was awarded the Silver Woman of the Year – Government, Regulatory, Non-profit organisation.
It’s important to also recognise that improving diversity in the workplace is not just about tackling gender imbalance. It is about all employees feeling respected, appreciated and valued, regardless of their individual differences.
At Jersey Finance, we recently refreshed our internal corporate values, one of which is ‘valuing diversity – respecting people with different ideas, strengths, interests and cultural backgrounds to drive our success, fostering a positive work environment to encourage healthy debate.’
A challenge for the financial services industry in Jersey, in terms of encouraging a diverse workforce, is sourcing and attracting local talent. We continue to work with our partners to engage young people, students, school-leavers and upcoming professionals to grow our local talent pool. In the past five years, more than 250 students have taken part in our Life in Finance scheme, and last year alone 36 sixth formers undertook work placements with 25 of our Member firms.
Our commitment to the Island does not focus solely on finding employment in finance. Jersey Finance has a three-year strategic partnership with local charity, the Grace Crocker Family Support Foundation (GCF). We’ve also signed up to the Government of Jersey’s eight-point pledge to Put Children First. This means as an organisation we commit to providing opportunities for every child on the Island.
It’s clear that diversity in all of its forms is vital for the future prosperity and enrichment of Jersey – not just the finance industry. This can only be achieved by working with our Members, partners and local community to ensure a better future for the benefit of Islanders.
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