December 2020

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Future First stands ready to accelerate the end of ‘disgraceful’ inequality in the financial and professional services sector exposed by new research. 

Education charity Future First has thrown its support behind a taskforce just launched after new research found nine in 10 senior roles in financial services are held by people from high socio-economic backgrounds. 

The new taskforce, commissioned by the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), will focus on boosting representation at the top of the sector following the damning findings in the research by the Bridge Group. 

The research also reveals that employees from less privileged backgrounds working in financial services take 25% longer to progress in the industry, despite no evidence of poorer performance. The representation in the sector of those privately educated was found to be double the percentage for those benefiting from a fee-paying education in the wider population.

The taskforce has been charged with tackling the lack of socio-economic diversity at all levels in the sector. Its remit will include looking at how firms can be incentivised to take action on the issue.

With a mission to ensure that no young person’s start in life limits their future, Future First specialises in developing thriving alumni networks and building links between leading businesses and state schools. It is now offering to work with firms to help them redress the balance and give more young people from less privileged backgrounds the opportunity to thrive in the financial services sector.

Lindsey McMurray, Managing Partner at Pollen Street Capital and a trustee for the charity, said: “Future First stands ready to turbo charge the work of this taskforce.

“Our partnerships with companies from a range of sectors has provided nearly half a million young people with the chance to learn about, experience and consider careers they would never otherwise have contemplated.

“It’s frankly disgraceful that the inequalities exposed by this report still exist in the financial services sector in 2020. This taskforce is welcome, but it is long overdue and the urgency of its mission cannot be overstated. 

“There is a desperate need for all financial institutions to have a long hard look at the diversity in their workforce, especially at senior levels, and ensure they offer genuine opportunities to everyone with the ability to thrive in the sector, regardless of background.

“In truth, it is not just the young people from less privileged backgrounds that suffer from this inequality, it is also every company where it exists. There is enormous talent left untapped among our state school pupils and this needs to change.”

Future First already works with institutions in the sector, including Legal & General. The firm is leading two virtual workshops later this month for students wanting to know more about a career in financial services.

The careers and alumni opportunities offered by private schools make a huge difference to their students. Future First’s aim is to offer this to every one of the other 93% of pupils out there. The charity’s programmes and networks are a powerful tool for increasing the confidence, motivation and aspirations of students. Essential ingredients if this taskforce is to succeed.

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