Financial and professional services toolkit

For employers

Financial and professional services

Culture and leadership

Ensure a compelling, shared vision across your organisation.

A diverse workforce is a more productive workforce, so embed this ambition into your culture – and ensure your employees’ voices are heard, by encouraging people to share their ideas and experiences. You can watch the video for more top tips or read our guidance below.


Recommendations for developing a socio-economic strategy. Activities at each level are related, but distinguished by scale, detail or commitment.

Have visible role models from low socio-economic backgrounds; share stories of experiences and challenges to ensure visibility, unity and understanding at all levels of the institution.

Co-create and develop with your employees an employee‑centric model for inclusion and diversity to build a truly diverse and inclusive culture (see ‘Narrative’ and ‘Inclusion’ sections below).

Appoint a senior champion with an informed and respected voice to advocate for socio-economic diversity and inclusion internally.

Set aside board time to make the business case for increasing socio-economic diversity throughout the organisation, and to outline how this will be achieved, and in what timescale.

Appoint an individual who will take management and operational responsibility for monitoring socio-economic diversity and inclusion within the firm and implement ways in which it can be improved.

Ensure that communication is not all ‘top down’; establish an employee-led social mobility network where senior leaders can listen and amplify diverse voices.


Recommendations for optimising your approach. Activities at each level are related, but distinguished by scale, detail or commitment.

Appoint a senior leader with an external profile as a leading advocate for socio-economic diversity and inclusion.

Appoint individuals at all levels to be accountable to the board for this agenda and communicate this internally.

Convene a community of managers or champions with individual accountability to advocate socio-economic diversity internally.

Ensure there is:

  • routine collaboration between HR, division heads and corporate and social responsibility leads in delivering the strategy
  • significant cross-working with other diversity focus areas (e.g. gender and ethnicity)
  • strong support for and ownership of the strategy throughout the organisation so that each team understands their role

Deliver training on how to deal with micro-aggressions, harassment and bullying to place greater accountability on actions.

Connect with charities who can lend their expertise on how to build strong leadership and culture focused on social mobility.

Share your sector-wide collaboration efforts (see ‘Advocacy’ section for more detail).


Engage middle and senior colleagues in crafting a narrative about socio‑economic diversity that highlights:

  • its importance and the rationale for focusing on it
  • how it relates to other forms of diversity
  • the current situation in your organisation, citing internal evidence
  • where you wish to get to, and how you will achieve it

Use easy-to-remember phrases, such as ‘potential, not polish’.

Celebrate the variety of entry routes into the firm to remove ‘stigma’ attached to some non‑traditional entry routes (e.g. apprenticeships).

Provide examples and insights of the impact of micro‑aggressions and exclusionary behaviours.

Include elements of this narrative in regular internal communications alongside other diversity areas to emphasise intersectionality.


Ensure the Chair and CEO are internally and externally public in their support for this narrative.

Ensure the narrative always features prominently in key communications, including your website, recruitment communications, annual reports and procurement materials.

Communicate evidence of positive organisational change in his area.

Showcase specific examples (e.g. managers who use their data to inform their interventions and hiring practices).

Offer reverse mentoring so that middle and senior managers directly hear about experiences of staff.


Communicate internally that data is being collected and analysed to understand socio‑economic diversity, alongside other diversity data.

Set targets using internal and external data benchmarks and analysis (see our scorecard for suggestions).

Produce annual reports for internal publication.

Support managers with tools so they can make informed day-to-day team, client and project decisions with inclusion and diversity in mind.


Ensure there is board accountability for targets and make progress a standing item on the board agenda.

Share performance against targets publicly.

Share data with managers and link their accountability for diversity and inclusion targets to their performance review and promotion.

Ensure jobs with management duties require prospective candidates to speak about their inclusion approaches as a requirement for progression.

Produce annual reports for external publication (see ‘Advocacy’ section).


Listen to your workforce; create opportunities for employees to engage with the narrative on socio- economic diversity, normalising the conversation, for example:

  • social mobility networks
  • other employee networks to demonstrate intersectionality and to amplify your efforts in this space and the importance of reporting
  • focus groups to evaluate your performance
  • internal events, webinars and podcasts
  • physical and online fora for employees to share views and experiences where appropriate
  • share evidence and practice from across the sector

Use existing initiatives that focus on specific protected characteristics (e.g. ethnicity or gender) and build in an additional socio-economic or/and intersectionality view to enable broader inclusion.

Review HR policies and procedures to support socio-economic diversity (e.g. paying a living wage, supporting travel expenses for applicants or having flexible working practices).

Ensure your anti‑discrimination policies clearly incorporate and relate to socio-economic background, and that managers understand this.

Build into internal diversity and inclusion training programmes themes specific to social mobility such as accent bias.


Engage with your supply chain in advancing socio‑economic diversity, with contractual obligations where appropriate (e.g. about unpaid internships, becoming an accredited voluntary Living Wage employer, diversity in their recruitment and data collection).

Explore how and in what ways client perceptions and expectations affect who gets ahead and address those proactively and positively through client‑led conversations and community work.

Legal and accountancy firms please also refer to Appendix A for additional data recommendations that may be required by regulators.

“Here at Killik & Co we’ve always had a mindset that the world of investing should be accessible to all; if we are to fully embody that ethos we also need diversity when it comes to the backgrounds of our employees.”
Jasmin Shorter, Professional Development Manager, Killik