New membership body launches to drive socio-economic diversity at senior level across UK financial services

A new, nationwide membership body has been launched today, exclusively for UK financial services firms. The body – Progress Together – is the first of its kind to focus on progression and retention to improve socio-economic diversity at senior levels in the financial services sector.

Launched today (20 May) at the Mansion House and hosted by Lord Mayor of London Vincent Keaveny with the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Minister John Glen, Progress Together aims to fill a specific gap around progression and senior level representation for socio-economic diversity.

The body launches as new data from a survey of nearly 10,000 people from 49 financial and professional services firms found that employees from non-professional backgrounds are 30% less likely to be working at a senior level compared with colleagues from professional backgrounds (defined by parental occupation at 14).

Progress Together builds on hundreds of hours of roundtables, interviews and extensive research – including an earlier Bridge Group report which showed that:

  • 89% of senior roles in financial services are held by people from higher socio-economic backgrounds (defined by parental occupation at 14) compared with 37% across the UK working population.
  • Employees from lower socio-economic backgrounds progress 25% slower than peers, with no link to performance. 
  • The class pay gap in financial services is £17.5k, the largest by sector.

Through a series of workshops, resources, firm to firm mentoring and benchmarking, Progress Together will help its members to progress and retain a socio-economically diverse workforce. 

Lord Mayor of London Vincent Keaveny said:

“The launch of Progress Together marks an important milestone in addressing the issue of socio-economic diversity at a senior level. It is imperative that we ensure that our financial services sector is globally competitive, and we will only achieve that if we take advantage of the diversity of talent that we are fortunate enough to have in the UK.

“I am delighted to have spearheaded the development of Progress Together and am optimistic that it will play a vital role in levelling the playing field for all in the sector.”

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Minister John Glen said:

“Research tells us that the majority of senior roles in financial services are held by those from higher socio-economic backgrounds. Financial services organisations across the UK, of all sizes can benefit from this new membership body, ensuring that the Government’s levelling up agenda is carried out, delivering equal progress and opportunity for all.”

Progress Together comprises 12 founding partners and 17 supporters (see notes to editors for full list), which have committed to develop an assessment tool and industry benchmark, provide strategic communications and provide office space and technical support.

The body will work with UK financial services employers, wherever they are on the socio-economic diversity journey, enabling them to better understand the barriers to progress, share best practice, identify emerging issues, and seek necessary changes in policy and practice.

Catherine McGuinness, Chair of the Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce, said:  

“Progress Together continues the important work of the Government commissioned Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce. Established in 2020, the independent taskforce is run by the City of London Corporation and exists to boost productivity and levelling up opportunities.

“The taskforce conducted hundreds of hours of roundtables and interviews as well as extensive research to identify what steps could help improve socio-economic diversity at senior levels in the sector. The launch of Progress Together will advance our vision of a sector where performance is valued over ‘fit’ and ‘polish’.”

Financial services firms of all sizes across the UK are invited to join the body and can do so by visiting www.ProgressTogether.co.uk. More information can also be found via Twitter (@ProgressTogethr) and LinkedIn. 

 Members can expect to receive guidance and support, and learn from best practice. They can also take advantage of support to improve levels of socio-economic diversity within their business and receive recognition for their progress.

Notes to editors

About the City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

About the Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce

The Taskforce is supported by PwC, Deloitte and Connectr. A full list of members can be found at: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/whogetsahead

Progress Together Founding Partners and Supporters

The full list of Founding Partners is:

  • Accenture
  • Allen & Overy
  • Aviva
  • AXA
  • City of London Corporation
  • EY
  • Fidelity International
  • Man Group
  • Paragon Bank
  • PwC
  • Santander
  • Schroders

The full list of Supporters is:

  • Bank of England
  • Building Society Association
  • Diversity Project
  • Financial Conduct Authority
  • Financial Reporting Council
  • Financial Services Skills Commission
  • Investment2020
  • Making the Leap
  • Scottish Financial Enterprise
  • Social Mobility Commission
  • Social Mobility Foundation
  • SOMO Awards
  • Sutton Trust
  • The Bridge Group
  • TheCityUK
  • The Investment Association