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Socio-Economic Taskforce Q & A

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Socio-economic taskforce – Q&A with Richard Rowntree

Richard Rowntree, Paragon’s Managing Director of Mortgages, has been appointed to represent Paragon on the City of London’s socio-economic taskforce. He shares more about what the taskforce aims to achieve, along with what this means for him and the Group.

What is the socio-economic taskforce?

The aim of the taskforce is to boost socio-economic diversity at senior levels across UK financial and professional services. It involves taking action to ensure that talented people from all backgrounds and parts of the UK can reach their full potential, by breaking down socio-economic barriers to progression.

Why is it needed?

There is a lack of socio-economic diversity at the top in UK Financial and Professional Services and an absolute need for change. Research shows that 89% of senior roles in financial services are held by people from higher socio-economic backgrounds. This compares with 33% across the UK working population. The sector sees employees from lower socio-economic backgrounds progress 25% slower than peers, with no link to performance.

As a sector, we want to work in the most productive way, boosting the UK economy and ultimately creating more jobs. So, it’s important that we focus on ensuring everybody can reach their full potential and the taskforce will drive that by breaking down socio-economic barriers to progression and helping to level up the UK.

What will the outputs of the taskforce look like?

The taskforce will enable an industry consultation and roadmap on how Government, regulators and sector bodies can incentivise employer action on socio-economic diversity at senior levels across UK financial and professional services.

It also provides a membership body and peer network for financial services employers which is a safe space to share best practice and benchmark against sector peers on socio-economic diversity at senior levels.

Further down the line, a report will be carried out on the productivity impacts of increasing socio-economic diversity at senior levels across UK financial and professional services

What will your role entail?

My role will be to act as a sounding board, advisor and critical friend for new ideas across the work carried out by the taskforce.

What will this mean for Paragon?

At Paragon, we have the opportunity to widen our talent pool and better our colleagues' experiences, which should also improve our service to customers and other stakeholders. I am delighted to be appointed to the socio-economic Advisory Board because this will give Paragon the opportunity to be at the forefront to make changes for the better.

What is Paragon doing to support?

Through my role on the taskforce, Paragon will be encouraged to do three things: inform, influence and improve.

‘Informing’ will help us to shape the outputs of the taskforce, including submitting a response to the industry consultation when announced.

‘Influencing’ ensures that, across the Group, we raise awareness of the need for greater socio-economic diversity at the top, including inviting taskforce speakers to attend sessions and increasing employee engagement with the taskforce as much as possible.

‘Improving’ involves creating a baseline and developing an action plan for success across Paragon, including monitoring the recruitment, retention, remuneration and progression of employees by socio-economic background and creating a road map for improvement throughout all areas of the business, from onboarding to career progression.