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Kim North: Why do white males still dominate marketing campaigns?

My favourite news story earlier this month came into my inbox from Money Marketing. The headline read: “Treasury pushes for gender diversity interventions after ‘slow’ progress.” Maybe it is because I am a female who has worked in financial services for over 35 years that the news resonated.

Economic secretary to the Treasury John Glen spoke at the recent Pimfa Wealth of Diversity Conference 2019 about the developments of the Women in Finance Charter, which was launched by the government in 2016. It has been signed by 300 financial services firms employing 78,000 people.

Disappointing, considering there are 1.1 million financial services jobs in the UK.

Glen said: “It is clear that evidence-based interventions to bring about a step change are needed, as progress is slow.” I applaud this. We must try harder to end gender disparity in financial services.

Kim North: Let’s move away from ‘jobs for the boys’

Over the past few months, I have been visiting product and service providers to talk about diversity and inclusion. Embracing diversity means appreciating the value of differences in age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education and socio-economic background.

Management consultant McKinsey has found that gender-diverse companies are 15 per cent more likely to outperform, and ethnically diverse companies are 35 per cent more likely to outperform.

Deloitte says diversity and inclusion has become a chief executive-level issue. The digital organisations of today thrive on empowerment, open dialogue and inclusive working styles.

Leading firms now see diversity and inclusion as a comprehensive strategy woven into every aspect of the talent life-cycle to enhance employee engagement, drive performance and improve brands. That said, the providers I meet with are not doing enough with their brands to benefit from the increased new business they could see if they were to become fully diverse and inclusive.

Profile: Parsonage Financial Services boss on not letting gender be a barrier to success

I would like to see product providers try to ensure the 100-plus brain differences between males and females are addressed.

Financial communications are quite rightly highly regulated, needing to be FCA-, Mifid II- and GDPR-compliant. But if providers moved away from middle-aged male-orientated marketing and communications, the protection gap and the underfunding of retirement would inevitably be reduced.

Why does marketing remain so male-orientated, with themes like jousting and shooting, and showing all white, male, ageing fund managers? Is it because of the old-fashioned view that a male will be looking after the female’s finances?

We know that most of the private wealth that changes hands in the coming decades is likely to go to women and that gender inequality in financial wealth is narrowing.

Now is the time to modernise UK financial services and shake off the white male dominance in marketing campaigns.

Kim North is managing director at Technology & Technical



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There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. That’s all well and good Kim, as long as the “interventions” do not stray over the line into so called “positive” discrimination. Why you might ask?

    Because trying to eliminate “discrimination” by statutorily introducing more of it is clearly flawed thinking.

    People need to be provided with equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome and every single company out their should only hire people based on one criteria. “who is the best person for the job”. Race, sex, sexuality, ethnicity, religion etc should be utterly and totally irrelevant.

    Should you still subscribe to the idea that “positive discrimination” is a good idea, consider the simple point, that if you discriminate in favour of a particular group, you by definition discriminate against others.

    Positive discrimination is doing more to breed resentment than virtually anything else, but as that resentment is mostly from “white, British, straight, males” vast numbers of people don’t seem to give a monkeys.

  2. It may have escaped your notice, but white males are in a majority as far as UK population is concerned. I business (all business not just financial services) there are more men than women and the majority of these men happen to be white.

    It’s not a sin, it’s just a matter of numbers.

    However I have no issue of appointing the best person for the job irrespective of gender, race, appearance or anything else. Always provided of course that they really are the best that is available.

    • It’s also escaped the ONS’ notice. According to them in their 2018 statements, white females are in the majority of the UK population at 51% vs 49%. Whereas in financial services (and no doubt other businesses) white males do comprise the majority of the financial services population in the higher ranked roles, with 86% of Executive committee membership being male.

      If it’s just that men are better at these jobs, the McKinsey findings above are hard to explain. So are Credit Suisse’s findings that “companies where women made up at least 15 per cent of senior managers had more than 50 per cent higher profitability than those where female representation was less than 10 per cent.”

  3. Trevor Harrington 18th February 2019 at 1:58 pm

    As above.
    Pointless discussion Kim.

  4. Positive discrimination is there to compensate for the implicit biases that white middle aged males have.

    If a candidate that has the same thinking modes as you sits in front of you, you are predisposed to think they are better than a candidate who thinks differently.

    Overcoming that is difficult, especially since it will sometimes be true.

    White middle aged males are not the only group to suffer from this – all groups do. however most recruitment decisions are made by white middle aged men, so they are the problem in this case.

    As a white middle aged man I support the ‘least worst’ option of positive discrimination, as it is the best way we have identified to compensate for my (and your) implicit bias that ‘people like me’ will be the best, because of how good I am.

    I don’t like any unfairness, and positive discrimination is clearly unfair – and even worse allows the promotion of ‘tokenism’ in organisations which do not fully embrace diversity at a cultural level. But it is the least worst way of shoehorning equality into the workplace.

    • You might feel that bias is there John, but that may just be your aware of your own likely bias.

      Of the groups I have come across, I would generally say that the average “white heterosexual male is probably the least biased on average of any group, simply because they are the ones that have had “equality” rammed down their throats the most.

      Were this article about trying to work on getting rid of any potential “bias” across ALL groups, then I could agree with the sentiment, but as usual it’s not, it’s very clearly targeted at “white middle age males”.

      And we have all seen plenty of examples where people have been hired purely because they fit into the “right” group, who are either utterly useless at the job, or who are way worse than other candidates were, who were rejected simply because they didn’t fit the politically correct agenda groupings.

      Everyone is free to form their own opinion, but this idea that “feelings” trump reality/facts is a positive cancer on society as a whole.

    • @John Stirling

      This is essentially saying that the end justifies the means. A Machiavellian perspective that has rarely, if ever, worked well through history.

      The destination may well tell the world what you are but it’s the journey that speaks to who you are as a person and what motivates you to action.

  5. I wonder how the suggestion of positive discrimination would go down in other (non white male dominated) industries (e.g. Primary School Teachers)???
    I thought as much.

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