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“We need to ensure that nobody is left behind.”

January 24, 2023

In 2022, The City of London launched its transformative report, ‘Who Gets Ahead: The Business Case’. We spoke to Suneel Bakhshi, President & Chief Executive Officer, Mizuho International about why socio-economic diversity is important to him, Mizuho, and the broader UK financial and professional services sectors.

As a member of the City of London’s Socio Economic Diversity Taskforce, since April 2021, Suneel has been working with other taskforce members on developing a pathway to improve socio-economic diversity at senior levels, boosting access to talent and promoting fairness and equity.

“I understand how hard it can be create rungs in the ladder that are missing, not only during the early stages of life, but in mid to later career points” he explains. “A supportive community has a vital role to play and in this regard, I am delighted to have been a member of the UK Government’s Socio Economic Taskforce.”

Research from the Bridge Group shows that 89% of senior roles in financial services in the UK are held by people from higher socio-economic backgrounds and that employees from lower socio-economic backgrounds progress 25% slower than peers. Adding to this, Suneel says, “as with all inclusion matters, employees of minority groups often expend time and energy conforming to dominant cultures which detracts from them being able to focus on other matters.”

“I personally believe that challenging and addressing socio economic diversity will play a role in improving the overall diversity picture for our industry.”

Suneel Bakhshi,
President & Chief Executive Officer, Mizuho International

When asked about what Mizuho is doing internally to challenge and address socio-economic diversity, Suneel explains that it is through the use of data, conversations, programmes and interventions.

“We are actively encouraging our employees to complete anonymised data metrics. This data will act as a benchmark for future target setting and provide intelligence to help us better support our employees to progress and flourish” explains Suneel.

As part of Mizuho’s wider ESG strategy, Suneel highlights how Mizuho seeks to contribute positively to the societies in which we operate; and in doing so build a value proposition for our employees and future generations of talent.

“We must take the best talent we have and ensure that with sponsored programmes and interventions such as mentoring, we promote more and more diverse talent into positions of leadership.” When asked about the opportunity that this represents, he continues, “there is a real opportunity for London as a multi-cultural city to be projecting this as best in class and I am personally committed to playing my part in that challenge.  With the support of Progress Together, we are committed to following the five point pathway outlined by the Taskforce to play our part in improving socio-economic diversity at senior levels.”

Speaking about his commitment to the challenges faced, he says, “I personally believe that challenging and addressing socio economic diversity will play a role in improving the overall diversity picture for our industry.”

“In conversations with my leadership team, I impress on them the need to focus on output and outcome” he begins to summarise, “we need to ensure that from the top down we aren’t rewarding confidence and social capital over performance.”

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