Progress Together was launched at an event today at Mansion House in London, hosted by Lord Mayor of London Vincent Keaveny with the economic secretary to the Treasury, John Glen.
Richard Rowntree, managing director of mortgages at Paragon Bank was in attendance. The lender is one of the founding partners of the body.
A survey has been launched along with Progress Together, comprising 10,000 people from 50 financial and professional services firms. The poll found that employees from non-professional backgrounds, as determined by the occupations of their parents, were 30 per cent less likely to be working at a senior level.
Paragon will collaborate with partners from across the financial services industry to help Progress Together understand how these findings affect organisational and sector-wide productivity.
Using this information, the body will aim to support people from all backgrounds to progress in the sector.
The body’s other founding members are Accenture, Allen and Overy, Aviva, Axa Health, City of London Corporation, EY, Fidelity International, Man Group, PwC, Santander and Schroders.
Rowntree said: “We are thrilled to be launching Progress Together and proud to be one of the 12 founding members. Improving socio-economic diversity within financial services is an important area for me personally and professionally and creating an even playing field aligns with Paragon’s core values.
“There are too many talented people in the financial services sector that fail to reach senior levels, which is a detriment to the individual firms and the sector as a whole. As an industry we have to change this.”
Progress Together builds on the work of the Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce, which Rowntree is also part of. It was established in 2020 and has consulted with the government on how to improve inclusion for people from different socio-economic backgrounds.
Catherine McGuinness, chair of the Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce, said: “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’.”