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Hip-hop, hamburgers and workplace diversity: how firms can be more inclusive

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Not for everyone: Barclays UK’s CIO thinks just offering hamburgers could undermine diversity efforts. Photo: Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images.bankin

Is diversity just about race, gender, culture, religion, and sexuality? Not according to Barclays’ Kirsty Rutter.

The chief innovation officer of Barclays UK was asked about how banks and finance firms can improve their diversity efforts at the FintechTalents conference this week in London.

Rutter said she believes that the industry is making progress in promoting diversity but challenges remain when it comes to inclusion.

Imagine you’re having a party and you’ve invited gender 50/50. Sexuality, ethnicity, language — completely mixed, everyone’s represented,” Rutter said. “But the only music you’re playing is hip-hop and the only food you’re serving is hamburgers.

“What you haven’t done is make the environment inclusive. Whilst you might have seen the obvious stuff, which is gender, skin colour, language, what you haven’t done is then think how you’re going to make that really work and I think that’s the next stage of the challenge, if you like.”

Rutter said diversity is not just about getting people from different backgrounds into the same room, but also about making them feel welcome and empowered to share their ideas and opinions.

Hip-hop could feel isolating for someone who isn’t familiar with the music, and only having hamburgers would exclude vegetarians, vegans, and Hindus.

Finding ways to be fully inclusive and to make sure it’s not just hip-hop on the stereo and it’s not just hamburgers to eat on the snack bar, that’s the next phase for us,” Rutter said. “You play that into the workplace, it’s the inclusive culture, it’s — they’re cliches but they’re true — it’s bringing your full self to the office.”

Barclays has reached gender parity in employment and has signed up to diversity initiatives such as HeForShe and the Treasury’s Women in Finance charter. It also has an internal LGBTQ network, Spectrum, and has a campaign to promote awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. However, the bank has one of the worst gender pay gaps in the City, at 48%.