Banks pressure agencies to tow line on diversity

Leading City banks are to put pressure on recruitment agencies to improve
the diversity of candidates they recommend.

The Interbank Diversity Forum – a body of diversity professionals at the top
banks – will meet with recruitment agencies in the New Year in a bid to
highlight the business benefits of diversity and improve the variety of
candidates put forward.

The IDF is concerned that recruitment agencies view an increased focus on
diversity as compromising the quality of applicants.

IDF member Frank Howell, head of diversity at JP Morgan Chase, told the City
Recruitment Conference that he has already unsuccessfully attempted to change
the behaviour of recruitment agencies.

Howell has spoken at, and chaired, workshops for the bank’s top 20
recruitment agencies to inform them how a diverse workforce will improve the
industry’s productivity.

He also hosted a cocktail party for more than 100 recruitment professionals
from 80 agencies in a bid to get the message across.

"There is an obvious business case for diversity. As a bank, we attract
stereotypical white, middle class, Oxbridge graduates. We have to ask ourselves
‘will we be able to understand our customers and get business like
this?’," asked Howell.

He told delegates at Business Forums International’s conference last week
that agencies are reluctant to adapt their practices.

"Agencies have told me they will not change just for JP Morgan Chase
when the rest of the industry has different criteria," Howell said.

"So, next year the IDF will go to the agencies as a group of 10 large
companies that pay their wages and say that we want changes," he said.

The IDF are also to meet sister organisation, The Interbank Recruitment
Forum – a body of recruitment professionals in the city – to discuss
initiatives to improve the diversity of staff.

Case study: JP Morgan Chase
Network groups focus on diversity

JP Morgan Chase is trying to increase
the diversity of its staff by providing more support for ethnic minority employees,
gays and lesbians, parents and its older workers.

Frank Howell, head of diversity, said that the bank’s diversity
focus is central to its aim of radically overhauling the firm’s hierarchical

The bank has a balanced scorecard based on its staff diversity
survey, including questions on how diversity-focused managers are and levels of
staff satisfaction on what has been achieved.

The scorecard collates diversity-data and links it to business
performance. JP Morgan Chase also funds diversity-focused staff networking
groups including those approaching retirement, parents, and the lesbian and gay

Howell believes these groups help staff to feel accepted at
work, improve retention and assist individuals with their career development.

"We are trying to move away from a situation where senior
staff are phoning up payroll shouting ‘Why have I not got paid? Do you know who
I am?’," Howell said.

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