Partner, Will Sutcliffe, talks about his views on diversity and inclusion.
Why did you pursue a career in Investment Management?
After completing my history degree, I moved abroad to work as a teacher. I enjoyed it, but after a couple of years I realised I wasn’t cut out for a career in teaching and started to scope out other options. A friend of mine was an Investment Manager and loved his job. I researched the role and realised how interesting it sounded, which led me to apply to the Baillie Gifford Investment Management graduate scheme. I’ve worked at the firm ever since.
What moved you to join the Diversity and Inclusion Group?
When the opportunity came up to establish a partnership group dedicated to this area, I was very keen to get involved. I had already been thinking about diversity and inclusion at Baillie Gifford as a member of the Investment floor’s Diversity Steering Group, which has been considering how we can get better at mentoring, flexible working and bias awareness. I’ve also been heavily involved in investment graduate recruitment in recent years, where we’ve made good progress in appealing to candidates who may not have necessarily considered a career in finance. It therefore seemed like a natural fit for me to join this group.
How do you define diversity and inclusion?
It’s important to remember that ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are two different things, and diversity of opinion tends to lose its value if nobody listens to one another. In the words of Author, Verna Myers, ‘Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance’. It may sound simplistic, but it’s a good way to distinguish between the two.
In my opinion, diversity should be thought of in broad terms. There has been a lot of research conducted in areas which are easy to measure – gender, ethnicity and age are good examples. However, there are areas which are harder to quantify but just as important, such as intellectual or cognitive diversity.
In the words of Author, Verna Myers, ‘Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance’.
What progress has the firm made in recent years in regards to diversity and inclusion?
We’ve become much more diverse by nationality – the firm has staff from nearly 40 different countries outside of the UK. And in terms of our recruitment process, we hire individuals from a wide range of academic disciplines, which helps to support our cognitive diversity efforts.
Trends in gender diversity have improved across Baillie Gifford. Ten years ago, women accounted for 43% of our staff. That figure is now 49%. Women represent 35% of staff on incentive bonus schemes, which has grown from 24% a decade ago. However, we do still have work to do in this area, as women remain under-represented in senior positions and the partnership itself is male dominated. But, the pipeline of talent coming through our ranks looks more balanced and reflects our efforts to appeal to a more diverse range of applicants. This will support us as we strive to broaden senior participation, and in the meantime, we need to do everything we can to retain our best people.
What does diversity mean to you as an individual?
From a business perspective, there are many reasons to continue our diversity and inclusion journey; it will allow us to attract and retain the best talent, reduce groupthink and improve our connections with a global client base.
However, ultimately, it’s about being fair. We have to improve the way we think about diversity and inclusion because, quite simply, it’s the right thing to do.