In 2020, in order to boost productivity and levelling up opportunities, HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) commissioned the City of London Corporation to lead an independent taskforce looking at improving socio-economic diversity at senior levels in UK financial and professional services.

The Taskforce conducted hundreds of hours of roundtables and interviews, consulted extensive literature, and engaged firms at various stages of the socio-economic diversity journey, with many right at the start. It was clear firms wanted and needed support to address this. As a result, an independent membership body Progress Together was created to drive socio-economic diversity at senior level across UK financial services.

Employers have never been more focused on hiring more diverse talent and creating fairer recruitment practices. Where there is a gap, is in retaining and progressing that talent. Progress Together fills this gap.

What people say about us

“We need to build a more inclusive society where everyone has a fair opportunity to succeed. A workforce that fully reflects the socioeconomic make-up of the people around it is critical to creating business value. The benefits of this progress – which accrue not just to individuals and organisations, but to wider UK society and the economy – are too important to ignore.”

Accenture

“The legal sector still has a long way to go to create an inclusive workplace where everyone has the opportunity to access and thrive regardless of background. Coming together is an important step to our respective industries being more representative of society.”

Allen and Overy

“Helping to create a diverse, inclusive society is a fundamental part of living up to our purpose. It means being there for our people, serving our customers well, and helping to contribute to fairer, more equal communities. We are committed to levelling the playing field and making social mobility in business a reality.”

Aviva

“AXA UK&I is committed to making the Financial Services sector fairer and more diverse by removing barriers, and enabling everyone to thrive, regardless of life stage, lifestyle, background or heritage.  As a founding partner, we’re confident that by working together, we can create a sector where people feel they belong and can achieve their full potential.”

AXA

We’re proud to have a compassionate, people-centred culture where our people feel valued and supported to thrive in their careers. Through our involvement in this new body, we want to ensure that socio-economic background is not a barrier to a successful career, either within Fidelity or in the wider financial services sector.

Fidelity International

“Inclusive leadership teams not only help create a positive culture within a business, but also deliver better decision-making, and are more attractive to top talent when recruiting.
Increasing socio-economic diversity at all levels is a key priority for our industry and through ongoing initiatives including Investment 20/20’s efforts to attract diverse talent from the ground up, we hope the boardrooms of the future will look very different.

Investment Association

“Inclusion and diversity is so important for many reasons, from boosting diversity of thought and innovation at all levels, to enabling creativity and developing organisational effectiveness, and we know it’s particularly important to our customers as well.
We are delighted to be supporters of Progress Together and look forward to working with the City of London Corporation and its membership body on the practical approaches firms can take to enable everyone from all walks of life to achieve their full potential in our industry, whatever their backgrounds may be.”

PIMFA

“We are greatly encouraged that the UK Financial Services now has its own peer network to advance socio-economic diversity and inclusion among senior people. The group promises to enable the sharing of data, effective practice; and to ensure there is accountability and a collective voice to advocate this vital agenda. As evidenced in Bridge Group research, the rewards will be a more engaged and productive workforce, and a more resilient and sustainable sector.”

The Bridge Group

“Improving the socio-economic diversity of our industry is essential to reflect the community it serves and ensure its ongoing success. We are very pleased to support Progress Together, which builds on the vital ongoing work of the Financial Services Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce. Capable individuals should be able to succeed on their own merits, regardless of their background. We hope that businesses will seize the opportunity Progress Together provides to develop and retain diverse leadership talent.”

The CityUK

“It’s vital industry tackles the issue of socio-economic diversity at senior levels across UK financial services, if we are to attract and retain the necessary skills and talent the sector requires to remain diverse,  inclusive and globally competitive.”

The Financial Services Skills Commission

“Diversity is crucial to success. Attracting and retaining talented people who can understand and embrace different perspectives ultimately leads to more insightful and innovative perspectives for clients.”

Schroders

“We’re delighted to be a supporter of this initiative. Enabling new pathways and equal progression for diverse talent from all backgrounds is essential for our vision and strategy for the financial services industry in Scotland.”

Scottish Financial Enterprise

“We are pleased to support Progress Together – working together to give people control over their own destinies, and unleash their true potential to help improve socio-economic inclusion across the sector.”

Social Mobility Commission

“As social mobility rises up the business agenda it’s so important to focus not just on outreach and early careers, but also on creating the conditions in which people can stay, thrive and lead. We welcome the launch of Progress Together and look forward to working with its members to drive socioeconomic diversity at senior levels.”

Social Mobility Foundation

“Through our own work supporting young people into the financial services sector, we know how vital a collaborative approach is to make sustained change across the sector. We are delighted to support the Progress Together initiative to further support socio-economic progress through to the very top level, ensuring that those that we are supporting to access the sector have the same opportunities to progress and thrive in their careers.”

The Sutton Trust

Progress Together is led by evidence including the Bridge Group’s report ‘Who Gets Ahead and How’. The report shows that across the economy, 52% of UK CEOs come from professional backgrounds – as defined by parental occupation at age 14 (recommended by the Social Mobility Commission). In financial services, this figure rises to 89%, putting the industry significantly out of touch with the communities it serves. This is compared to 37% of the UK’s working population.

Progress Together is led by evidence including the Bridge Group’s report ‘Who Gets Ahead and How’. The report shows that across the economy, 52% of UK CEOs come from professional backgrounds – as defined by parental occupation at age 14 (recommended by the Social Mobility Commission). In financial services, this figure rises to 89%, putting the industry significantly out of touch with the communities it serves. This is compared to 37% of the UK’s working population.

The Bridge Group research exposed a barrier to progression. Across nearly 8,000 surveyed employees, those from non-professional backgrounds progressed 25% slower than their peers, with no link to job performance.

Employees report to be exhausted by efforts to conform to dominant cultures. This is impacting performance and productivity.  To retain our global competitiveness, win clients and demonstrate the ‘S’ in the ESG, the financial services sector must develop inclusive cultures.

Who gets ahead and how?

Socio-economic background and career progression in financial services: a study of eight organisations.

Download
Socio-economic diversity and inclusion

Toolkit: Financial and professional services

Download
Let’s talk about class

A collection of resources designed to support inclusive conversations between teams on the importance of socio-economic diversity in the workplace

Download
Employer Index Report 2021

Want support to move up the Social Mobility Employer Index? Join Progress Together

Download
Who gets ahead and how?

Socio-economic background and career progression in financial services: a study of eight organisations.

Download
Socio-economic diversity and inclusion

Toolkit: Financial and professional services

Download
Let’s talk about class

A collection of resources designed to support inclusive conversations between teams on the importance of socio-economic diversity in the workplace

Download
Employer Index Report 2021

Want support to move up the Social Mobility Employer Index? Join Progress Together

Download