Financial Services: crucial partners in BITC membership

Post author image. Nick Diamond
Business in the Community (BITC) Membership Director Nick Diamond reflects on the vital role financial services providers play in helping the UK lead the way on responsible business.
Nick Diamond wearing a white shirt with blue tie smiles into the camera

As well as needing to change strategies due to macroeconomic factors (such as inflation, population change, or stock market crises), the financial services sector has also had to adapt how it ensures it remains at the forefront of responsible business in areas such as employee wellbeing, executive diversity, and responsible investment.

Of BITC’s members based in England, Scotland, and Wales, 76 represent the financial services industry, each at different stages of their responsible business journeys. With 30 years experience at some of the world’s largest banks, Nick Diamond has seen many major changes in how finance works. In this blog, Nick shares his reflections on the vital role of financial services providers in helping the UK to lead the way on responsible business.

As a membership organisation, BITC is dedicated to supporting our members to improve their responsible business practice. Involving over 600 businesses, BITC’s membership also works together to leverage their collective resources to drive positive impacts for people and communities across the UK.

As well as being a major employer and contributor to the UK’s position as a global economy, businesses in the financial services sector have been a prominent cornerstone of BITC’s membership throughout our 40-year history. Of our 30 founding members in 1982, 10 were financial services businesses. Today, the influence of our founders, and the many businesses who have joined them over the years, is felt throughout BITC, and has helped shape our shared vision for responsible business.

Working with the finance sector to drive responsible change

When I have the opportunity to speak with members of our Leadership Teams and Leadership Boards, I am constantly reminded of the successful, purposeful relationships we have with our member banks, building societies, insurers and investment houses.

Colleagues from these companies, of different seniorities, in different parts of the UK, work with BITC and our wider network to change what we mean by ‘best practice’, and drive innovations and partnerships that change lives.

From pioneering new approaches to responsible investment in partnership with the Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business at the University of Birmingham, to partnering with Barclays on its LifeSkills programme, to working with AXA UK to launch the National Business Response Network (NBRN) when communities were most in need due to COVID-19, BITC has long been a supportive and credible partner in helping financiers drive responsible change.

A critical role in the UK’s responsible future

One key thing I have learnt through my career in the industry is how crucial the financial services sector is to the health of business in the UK. Due to their reach and importance, they also have an opportunity to drive lasting positive change within the communities they serve and have a huge role to play in securing the future of the climate.

Innovative businesses rely on the support of lenders, and other sector expertise, to get their ideas off the ground. Their responsibility also extends to the millions of sole traders and SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) across the country that are so critical to local economies.

As a huge employer across the country, with over 1.1 million people1 using continually evolving capabilities and technology, the financial sector has a significant role to play in building a skilled and inclusive workforce and an environment where work is good for everyone.

From my own personal experience, I have seen the huge progress made by many sector peers in improving employee experience, right through from the basic legal requirements to creating diverse and inclusive cultures where peoples’ voices are heard, and doors are open.

Looking back to where I started on my own journey, the way our financial members engage and look after their employees shows true leadership and commitment.

Bringing responsibility into the mainstream

In his annual 2022 letter to CEOs, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink suggested that acting and planning in a responsible and sustainable way has progressed from being a niche “woke” undertaking to absolutely critical for firms’ long-term profitability.

The rise and centrality of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting is helping to bring responsibility into the mainstream for financial services providers, but we know it can be difficult to know where to start.

At BITC, we have been taking action alongside our members to drive responsible business for 40 years. As our Founding Member Aviva’s Chief Executive Amanda Blanc said at our end-of-year Responsible Business Live 2021 event, this network “feels like good company”.

If you think you would benefit from talking with like-minded people, and meeting major businesses in your sector, get in touch with us today. My team will be delighted to find out more about the challenges or opportunities you face, and support you to meet them responsibly.

GO FURTHER ON YOUR RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS JOURNEY

References

  1. House of Commons Library (2021) Financial services: contribution to the UK economy, 8 December.