How Barclay Simpson is supporting equality, diversity and inclusion research

At Barclay Simpson, we believe that recruiters are perfectly positioned to champion the benefits of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within the world of employment.

Recruitment agencies operate at a key intersection between employers and candidates, enabling us to influence hiring decisions and help create fairer, more inclusive workplaces where employees can feel a true sense of belonging.

It is a role that we take seriously, and we continue to work hard embedding a culture of EDI into the foundations of our business. In the words of our CEO, Dean Spencer:

“While there is undoubtedly a clear business case for EDI, the moral case is far stronger. We want to do what’s right.”

As a part of that philosophy, we actively seek out opportunities to drive diversity conversations forward. One of the ways we do this is by partnering with organisations that are conducting new research into EDI.

We believe this research is essential to understanding how to move the needle when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. So, we’d like to take some time now to explain more about these projects and what insights they’ve provided.

Diverse voices

In 2022, we began partnering with Women in Banking & Finance (WIBF), a highly regarded not-for-profit network that has championed women in financial services for more than 40 years.

We supported them on Accelerating Change Together, or ACT, a four-year research programme conducted by the WIBF in collaboration with The Inclusion Initiative at the London School of Economics (LSE).

ACT is the UK’s first cross-sector research programme designed to bring a gender lens to the country’s financial services industry in an effort to address its prevailing gender balance issues.

More research into diversity and inclusion is always welcome, but ACT goes even further by providing actionable recommendations that organisations can adopt in order to better attract, retain and promote employees from diverse backgrounds.

Barclay Simpson and other recruiters supported the research by introducing senior professionals from across our specialist markets who were willing to be interviewed about their careers and unique experiences. I’m delighted to say we were able to find more than two dozen senior governance and cyber professionals for the study.

The final report, ‘100 Diverse Voices’, revealed a number of fascinating EDI insights, with a key focus on the re-organisation of work in a post-pandemic world.

Creating inclusive workplaces

So, what did the research say? The full report can be read here, but we spoke to Dr Jasmine Virhia – a Postdoctoral Researcher at LSE who was the lead interviewer for the project – to discuss some of the main findings.

According to Dr Virhia, psychological safety, trust and effective leadership are key to creating a diverse and inclusive culture. And in order to achieve these goals, you need to set the right tone at the top.

“Organisations really need to invest in having a large number of inclusive leaders, as well as formal management training,” she explained.

Another key discovery was that many organisations say all the right things on paper when it comes to EDI, but they don’t always follow through properly. Some try to move too fast without a concrete plan and lose steam when things don’t work out.

The upshot? Businesses often have good intentions – but the execution isn’t quite there yet.

Fortunately, the ACT programme’s research has resulted in two frameworks that offer tangible guidance for organisations: GOOD FINANCE and UTOPIA.

These frameworks offer clear, practical and measurable actions for companies that want to formalise their EDI efforts, so we encourage organisations to review these frameworks and see which recommendations they can introduce in their workplaces.

Taking action

A core theme running through the ACT programme is that while its individual reports may focus on specific demographics, such as women, the recommendations are designed to create a better working environment for everyone.

This is also true for one of the LSE’s latest projects – a study investigating the links between EDI and productivity.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, it’s part of a larger research collaboration to better understand what helps and hinders certain groups from reaching their full potential.

“UK productivity is nearly 20% lower than some of its closest competitors, and it’s been virtually stagnant since the global financial crisis in 2008,” Dr Virhia explained.

“At the same time, we have an issue with diversity – people from underrepresented groups are substantially less likely to access and succeed in the most productive career pathways. What we want to find out is whether resolving the diversity problem could also help resolve our productivity problem.”

As with the 100 Diverse Voices report, Barclay Simpson supported this research by reaching out to members of our community to find people from a range of backgrounds who were willing to take part.

The final report, The Inclusive Individual, was published early in 2024, and it provides key insights into the transformative impact that inclusivity can have on the workplace and employees’ personal development.

How can you be a more inclusive individual in the workplace? Professionals were asked which key traits inclusive individuals demonstrate, and they said they:

  • Intervene when they see colleagues being excluded (82% of professionals mentioned this)
  • Have diverse networks, rather than cliques (72%)
  • Are welcoming to all colleagues (58%)
  • Give a voice to others (55%)

There are many more insights in the report, so please give it a read if you’re looking for actionable recommendations that make your workplaces more diverse and inclusive.

Build for the future

If you’d like to learn more about the fantastic research that the WIBF and the Inclusion Initiative are doing, please visit their websites for more information here and here.

We also encourage everyone within our network – recruiters, clients or candidates – to get in touch if you’d like to be directly involved in their projects.

At Barclay Simpson, we support the work that organisations like the WIBF and LSE do because we believe actions speak louder than words. Like many businesses, we’re on an EDI journey, but every journey must have a destination.

That’s why research such as this is so important – it provides employers with clear, evidence-led measures that they can adopt and track their progress against. We believe this is essential to building an equal, diverse and inclusive environment for everyone.

How Barclay Simpson can support your EDI efforts

Find out more about Barclay Simpson’s commitment to equal opportunities for all here, or get in touch today to discuss how we can support your efforts.