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2020’s best diversity & inclusion strategy: The Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has been on a journey to ensure that diversity and inclusion is embedded in everything that it does.

Since 2017, it has published an annual equality, diversity and inclusion report in order to show the work it has done to make the organisation more accessible to potential employees and people using their service.

Based on employees’ experiences and external benchmark recommendations, the company put together a new 2020 to 2025 Inclusion and Wellbeing strategy to replace all previous strategies it had in place.

Having wellbeing integrated with inclusion is important to FOS as it believes it is impossible for its people to demonstrate inclusiveness if they do not feel a sense of wellbeing. It also believes collaboration is key to the delivery of its strategy, because embedding inclusion should be everyone’s responsibility.

FOS has 14 employee networks each sponsored by a member of the executive or senior management teams. Network chairs are given a day each month to work on network activity and are key to implementing the D&I agenda, increasing awareness and sharing the diverse experiences of its people.

FOS’ ethnic minority network, Embrace, has created a programme of mentoring circles that support personal development and career navigation. The programme combines the benefits of one-to-one and group employee mentoring over a six-month period, and 120 people have completed it so far.

Surveyed participants of the programme said that it helped them build skills essential to their career development. These included: productivity, self-growth and self-awareness. Several participants were promoted after taking part in the programme.

After the success of Embrace, FOS developed an experiential learning scheme for inclusive leadership. A reverse mentoring programme, the scheme saw executives mentored by junior colleagues for nine months.

The FOS’ D&I strategy was one of the few entries that really inspired the Awards judges. They were impressed by the direct impact the strategy had on employees. How it was structured around employee experiences as well as external influence was seen as innovative and comprehensive.

Clear buy-in from the top down and strong overall links to company strategy also contributed to make this entry a clear winner for 2020.

Highly commended: MTR Elizabeth Line (MTREL)

The HR team at MTREL was highly commended by judges due to the continued success of the organisation’s D&I strategy over a sustained period of years.

The company’s efforts to hire employees reflective of the community in

which it works was also noted, making it a standout entry.


Tata Consultancy Services

Find the full list of the 2020 HR Excellence awards winners here. You can also watch the event on demand and register your interest in the 2021 event here.