By Marcus Leach

This Tuesday, 5th April, the public sector will be called to account over the measures in place to improve levels of diversity within individual organisations.

The Government wants public sector bodies to focus on results rather than just “box-ticking” with no direct purpose. The equality duty is designed to encourage the public sector to take responsibility for the diversification of its own workforce whilst focusing on transparency and accountability so that information about public sector diversity can be made widely available.

Although the equality duty itself has come into force, the specific duties to support the general duty have been temporarily postponed. From today until the new specific duties are in place, however, public bodies will still need to comply with the general public sector equality duty outlining the need for greater diversity in the workplace as a measure to improve results overall, not just for the sake of quotas.

“It is imperative for all public sector organisations to become more diverse, in order for them to engage effectively with the communities they are serving," Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership said.

"Despite the current climate of cut backs, public sector organisations, especially in sectors such as financial services, can bring a deeper understanding and knowledge to their market places by being mirror reflections of those people themselves. It is only through reflecting communities accurately that their service can be enhanced.”

A recent report on gender diversity from Odgers Bernston addresses the issue of diversity across the spectrum, with a particular focus on diversity in the financial sector; an industry which has traditionally struggled to diversify its workforce at all levels.

The report addresses the challenges of improving gender diversity and highlights the trends and characteristics behind successful strategies for diversification. One key trait that came out of the report was regular skilling-up and training on the part of female employees who recognised the need to demonstrate excellence in male-dominated environment. However, most characteristics of the most successful people in finance were not specific to men or women though women in senior roles were considered to be highly competent. It was thought by many of the interviewees that men could achieve seniority without the same level of capability.

In order to improve gender diversity in the financial sector, two common factors featured heavily in the report; that of accountability and transparency on the part of the government and individual organisation. The report claims that a greater emphasis on the reporting of diversity statistics to highlight the areas that need most urgent attention.

“My view is that this is helpful as it is based on real life experiences and perspectives from senior women in the industry and therefore as a starting point for businesses, the recommendations are a useful reference. Our proposed response to the Davies report is to establish a think tank and develop a practical toolkit for the industry based on best practice and building upon research such as this insightful report," commenting on the report, Field concluded.