Employers in the City are increasingly focusing on improving diversity as they compete for the best talent, a new report has found.
A study of nearly 30 investment banks and other finance houses, by law firm Nabarro Nathanson, found that employers are trying to combat the traditionally macho culture associated with the City.
Sue Ashtiany, head of employment at Nabarro Nathanson, said the firms surveyed denied they were trying to improve diversity policies to avoid costly tribunal claims and forthcoming discrimination legislation on sexual orientation and belief. She claimed the main driver was recruiting the best people.
"The companies we surveyed brushed aside claims that change is legally motivated. There is a big agenda for change. People expect a lot from their staff. They are asking: 'How do we get the best out of people?'," she said.
The study shows a number of City employers have introduced dedicated diversity teams to ensure the issue is taken seriously. Companies are also placing more emphasis on work-life balance.
Nicola Leach, UBS Warburg UK diversity manager, said focusing on diversity can deliver business benefits. "The working environment should be one in which everyone can contribute to their full potential," she said.
Patricia Hewitt, trade and industry secretary, said: "Research shows diversity can be promoted even in a fast-moving and globally competitive environment."
By Michael Millar