Championing diversity: where we are, and where we want to be...

Working at Seccl

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Championing diversity: where we are, and where we want to be...

In a bid to be more transparent (and encourage other companies to do the same) we’re publishing the results of our recent Diversity and Inclusion surveys.

Diversity means something different to everyone – but one thing’s for sure, it’s no longer optional. Now is the time for businesses of all kinds to take a look around the table – do the majority look, talk, think and behave like you? If so, it’s time to rebalance the scales.

Why? Well, for starters, a lack of diversity substantially limits innovation – can you really call your business innovative if you’re working in a vacuum? Secondly, we know financial services need to change to reflect both the wider world and the complexities of the industry. We want to take the lead on that. And lastly – it’s just the right thing to do.

Right now, at Seccl, we want to create a culture that celebrates difference and shuns conformity. But we understand that wanting something and actively working towards it are two different things.

So, we asked the Seccl team a bunch of questions, then held two follow-up talks. In these company-wide meetings, we discussed the results and what we can do to build a more diverse and inclusive working environment.

What the results say…

9.2 employee scoring of extent to which Seccl is an open environment

We sought to benchmark our current performance in two ways. First of all, we conducted a detailed anonymous survey which asked our team about their gender, orientation, ethnicity, education and socio-economic background.

Separately, we asked individuals to assess how diverse and inclusive an organisation they felt Seccl to be. Firstly, the positives.

5.7 employee scoring of extent to which Seccl is a diverse organisation

Our survey achieved an impressive 80%+ completion rate. When asked to score out of 10 the extent to which Seccl provides an open environment, and encourages expression of ideas, opinions and beliefs regardless of ethnicity and background, the average answer given was 9.2. Promising stuff.

However, it’s fair to say that we’re not the most diverse. Asked to what extent they believed Seccl was a ‘diverse organisation’, with 1 being not at all diverse and 10 being extremely diverse, the average answer was just 5.7 out of 10. Which didn’t come as much of a surprise, given the findings from the broader survey.

At a glance, we found that…

  • We’re a young team. Nearly 80% of us are under 40, nearly half of us are under 30, and the vast majority don’t have kids
  • We also have a very strong male bias: 70% identify as male
  • Nearly 75% of Secclers have either a BA or an MA. Fewer than 5% were school leavers. There’s a pretty even split between those who attended non-selective and selective schools (with just over 10% attending a fee-paying school)
  • The majority believe that they’ve benefitted from a privileged socio-economic background. Only a quarter describe themselves as coming from a less privileged background; with around two-thirds ineligible for free school meals
  • We’re not very ethnically diverse. Nearly 80% of us are white. The majority believe their ethnicity has positively impacted their career opportunities in life
  • We’re overwhelmingly heterosexual, with more than 90% of Secclers identifying a such; and while most believe their orientation has had no effect on their career opportunities in life, about 20% of us think it has

Our diversity stats at May 2021

Of course, the problem doesn’t begin or end with us. The financial services industry – in which only 10% of management roles are held by Black, Asian or minority ethnic people – has a huge diversity problem. In April this year, the industry was “put on notice” when Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of the FCA, called for work to be done to meet the charter’s aims.

But we’re not trying to let ourselves off the hook with context here. We know there’s a problem and that we can – and will – do better.

What the team says…

While the results clearly show we have some way to go to building the truly diverse organisation we want, it’s reassuring to see that, when it comes to inclusion, we’re definitely on the right track.

We asked the anonymous participants to comment on how they found the culture here at Seccl; here’s what they said:

“[Diversity and inclusion] is something that Seccl are really strong at. Whether it’s frank discussions about mental health or celebrating pride we do a lot to make sure everyone is welcome and no one has to hide who they are…”

“I personally feel like I can be myself here at Seccl.”

“Seccl has opened my eyes to what it’s like to work in a changing, dynamic workplace. The environment feels very inclusive, and I am comfortable asking questions. Everyone seems super passionate about what they do and willing to teach in a way that’s friendly and easy to understand.”

As for me, Dave and I are proud of building a company in which everyone has a voice – where every person is encouraged to ask questions and push boundaries.

Building a more diverse and inclusive team: what happens next?

Now more than ever, companies like ours have a social and moral obligation to drive change, to further social equality and to positively contribute to society.  And we don’t just want to keep up with the status quo – we want to take the lead and set a positive example for what business can do.

But as with all ambitious goals, we need a way of measuring our progress to hold us accountable. It’s all very well and good saying this stuff, but what are we actually going to do about it?

Here’s what we’re doing already:

  • Days off for religious (non-Christian) holidays, without these affecting your holiday allowance
  • Paid sick days for mental and physical health
  • CV screening for gender bias
  • Diversity and inclusion events (check out the photos from our recent Pride Picnic)
  • Establishing ties with charities that promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Here’s what we plan to do:

  • Host and attend more Diversity and Inclusion events
  • Finalise a progressive parental leave policy that give new parents the time off they need while helping them integrate back into the workplace
  • Publish more content showcasing what we’re doing to try and promote diversity internally
  • Set clear and actionable D&I objectives at top level – and make sure they’re communicated throughout the company
  • Create a more objective, data-driven recruitment process to remove subjectivity and “culture fit” assessments
  • Continue building a diversity-focused engineering apprenticeship, which is in the pipeline
  • Work with specialist diversity firms for recruitment and job advertising

After some debate within the company, we decided to avoid quotas for certain areas of diversity, as they are difficult to get right and wrought with potential problems. Instead, we’re setting a company-wide objective to ensure we both:

  • Maintain an internal “inclusion score” of 9+
  • Improve our internal “diversity score” to 7+ by the end of 2021

Our mission is to be a beacon of diversity in financial services and technology – and ultimately, we need to just get on with it. We’ll share our progress towards the end of the financial year to let you know how we’re doing, and we’ll keep you updated with our initiatives along the way.

Some closing thoughts, while I’m feeling pensive. People are often reluctant to challenge the status quo in the workplace – and understandably so if they feel there will be negative consequences. What we all need to do is work to eliminate the ‘risks’ associated with stepping up and speaking out; to make everybody feel more comfortable to be themselves and share their unique life perspective.

When I look back on Seccl in 10 years’ time, I strongly believe that it’ll be our culture that most sets us apart, and that I look on with most pride – more so than any growth statistics. Luckily, neither are mutually exclusive, and I genuinely believe the former helps us achieve the latter.

We want to bring together people, ideas and industries that will change the world for the better. If you’re interested in working for Seccl, check out our careers page or send your CV to