As we all know, the Bank of England has had a busy few months since the UK’s shock vote to leave the European Union. Ensuring financial stability in the aftermath of last June’s political earthquake was rightly top of Governor Mark Carney’s agenda.
However, now that the dust has settled, Carney clearly feels sufficiently emboldened to use his high profile status to challenge the issue of “groupthink” both within the Bank itself and wider banking industry.
Speaking at a Bank of England Inclusion Reception in London, Carney said there was a need to adopt the “spirit of the millennial” by boosting gender and ethnic diversity.
He went on: “The Bank recognises that to pursue its mission it must reflect the diversity of the people it serves. Frequent charges levelled at this central bank – and many of our peers – include being monoculture, secretive and ridden with groupthink. It is well established that diversity leads to more creative thinking and reduces the risks of groupthink and bias.”
He added: “Research shows that while older colleagues often view diversity as an issue of representation and fairness, millennials tend to view cognitive diversity as essential for a diverse and inclusive organisation. This younger generation is interested in connecting with each other, collaborating across teams and exploring a variety of ideas to solve problems.
“The spirit of the millennial is better suited to the complex challenges that central bankers face in a risky and uncertain world.”
The Governor is certainly doing his bit to ensure the Bank lives up to this vision. The Bank’s Chief Operating Officer, Charlotte Hogg, has just been named Deputy Governor, while of the 700 experienced professionals recruited last year almost a half were women and 25% came from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background.
Carney’s call came a few days before insurance giant Aviva’s Chief People Officer, Sarah Morris, was reported to have warned suppliers that they faced losing contracts if they did not embrace the need to promote greater numbers of women into senior roles.
In a letter, Morris explained that suppliers were “critically placed to drive the change that is needed in future talent pipelines”. Aviva was the first British company to pledge that women would make up 30% of its executive committee by 2020.
The comments of Carney and Morris are very much aligned with the trend Armstrong Craven is seeing in its talent mapping, pipelining and insight work for corporate clients in the UK, Asia Pacific and the United States.
While gender, ethnicity and sexuality remain key aspects of the diversity debate, many corporates are going even further. As Carney suggests, there is a need to ensure diversity of thinking to ensure, as he puts it, an end to “groupthink”.
Some of the sectors in which our teams are most active, for example technology and healthcare, have been moving in this direction for some time. And, if our experience of recent months is anything to go by, more traditional sectors like financial services are now following suit.