When I joined the asset management industry more than a decade ago, an industry stalwart at a networking event asked me, "Where did you school?".
Secondly, we need to build mentoring programmes. Tailored advice from an experienced face can really set someone along the right path.
At the asset management company I work at, we are doing much to embrace diversity and inclusion and mentoring. We recently had an A-level student who is part of the "Social Mobility Foundation" come into the office. She told me the setting felt strange.
Her parents don't work in corporate environments so couldn't share their experiences with her ahead of her visit. While it felt unfamiliar, mentorship could help someone like her make the transition to the work environment.
I am sure it felt like a new game with its own particular rules, but these rules are changing rapidly. By the time she graduates, the working environment will probably feel different again and she can play a role in changing it further.
Thirdly, and this is the least tangible action, we need to accept that some people just won't be "people like us". We also need to actively seek out and embrace difference.
It is not a one-sided issue. Potential candidates must be open-minded and shed any prejudices about the industry. Asset management - like the rest of the world - is changing. We must all engage in a new conversation about what we want the industry to be like. We don't need a working group; we just need to meet as individuals.
The welcome I received at the start of my career will be different to a graduate's now. Thankfully, there are more ways to succeed than relying on your social background. We don't need to conform to a stereotype to fit in.
The industry does not want people who are homogenous. Much of my early career was spent feeling like a fish out of water and I adapted. Now, people can celebrate their differences and the value it brings to the industry.
Charles Clarke is head of communications at HSBC Global Asset Management and a mentor for the Social Mobility Foundation
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