A more inclusive City of London

the upReach view, Jade Azim, Programme Coordinator

The Lord Mayor’s comments last week on the City of London’s socially exclusive culture is a welcome contribution to the conversation surrounding social mobility in finance and other professional sectors – a conversation that upReach has been championing, particularly with its recent partnerships with Nomura and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The Lord Mayor has spoken not only of the domination of privileged candidates in the City, a well-documented but stubborn issue that continues to symbolise a class ceiling for working class candidates seeking careers in finance, but he also spoke of the significant benefits to the professions themselves in opening themselves up to new pools of talent and “[reaping] greater skills, loyalty and innovation”.

upReach have been proud to work with undergraduates from less-advantaged backgrounds who have shown and continue to show a great potential and capacity for their development into strong additions to the City’s workforce. We work on developing the key skills that come with client-facing roles in the City. Our partners and others in the City benefit immensily from their inclusion in the recruitment pools, as their unique perspectives, grit and determination all combine to make for hard-working candidates who have made their backgrounds a strength.

However, to champion such individuals, and to ensure they can bring their whole selves not only to interview but to their roles in the City should they break the ceiling against the odds, the Lord Mayor is right in that the City and its employers must change to accommodate for these new and fresh talents and embrace their unique skills and backgrounds. The City needs to discover the benefits of a diverse workforce, and build a new culture of inclusivity to replace its current culture of exclusivity, both in terms of demographics but also in its attitudes to it.

Diversity is a strength, and upReach will continue to strive to make that case. We hope that employers in the City will join both the Lord Mayor and us in the drive for a more inclusive Square Mile.

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