FSCS: A Diversity and Inclusivity Role Model

25 Nov 2019

By Julian Smith, Executive Director, memcom executive and memcom recruitment services


With an ethos to proud of, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme is an organisation that prioritises key areas across the whole spectrum of diversity to create an inclusive work environment for all. Their customers come from all backgrounds and the FSCS regards it as essential for their workforce to reflect this, to deliver outstanding customer experience that puts people back on track.


On an individual level, David Blackburn, chief people officer, was crowned diversity champion of the year earlier this year at the FT Adviser Diversity in Finance Awards. The judges were impressed by his personal commitment, such as pioneering the age diversity agenda and working to transform the scheme’s approach to diversity. The award-winning streak continues last week when the FSCS’s commitment to its colleagues and customers was recognised in not one but three prestigious National Awards!


As a recruiter myself – recruiting talent to a broad range of roles within professional bodies sectors, trade associations and the charity sector since 2001 – championing the equality, diversity and inclusivity agenda is something I am also deeply committed to. Indeed, in the new year, the memcom team will be introducing a memcom diversity forum (email me to register early interest). I therefore jumped at the chance of interviewing David Blackburn last week about the benefits of having a truly diverse and inclusive workforce.


Q: Congratulations to FSCS for coming home with two wins at the Diversity in Finance Awards including your own accolade of Diversity Champion of the Year! Could you please tell us a little about the background behind this success and what it meant for the organisation and yourself to be recognised in this way?

DB: In November 2018 we launched our new strategy: FSCS into the 2020s – Protecting the Future. To deliver our strategy, we knew we needed a diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone could succeed in achieving his or her personal and professional goals. An environment where everyone was treated with dignity and respect. Where productivity and customer experience improved because our workforce truly embraced the benefits that diversity and inclusivity can bring.

For all these reasons and more, we have worked hard to achieve the following:

Diversity and inclusivity amongst staff have improved

  • In 12 months, we’ve increased the number of BAME managers to 17% from 10%; and almost a third of the FSCS (29%) now come from BAME backgrounds.
  • Today 33% of our leaders are women including 27% of the FSCS’s Board – up from 25% – and we appointed our first female CEO in 9 years in May 2019. We are ever closer to ensuring a 50/50 gender split for all short-lists currently running at 56% in favour of female candidates.
  • We’ve reduced our gender pay gap. Whilst not subject to the legislation we choose to publish our gender pay gap data which shows how we have narrowed the gap from 18% in 2014 (using median pay) to 15.6% in March 2018 to 11.8% today.
  • 7.5% of our leadership population is LGBT including representation on our Executive Team – up from 3%
  • 33% of new recruits are older workers and they represent 28% of our staff


89% of employees fully embrace and understand the impact our approach to diversity and inclusivity has had on our success – up 32% in 12 months.


Employee engagement has increased

We’ve driven up employee engagement from 60% 2 years ago to 79% today. 95% of staff believe the FSCS makes a difference; 85% believe they can make a valuable contribution to that success and the same number feel proud to work here.  People are genuinely excited about where the FSCS is going 81% – up from 53% a year ago!

The performance of the organisation has improved

Our inclusive approach has helped the FSCS to deliver our best ever performance: we’ve taken 100 days out of the end-to-end claim process; 95% of claims are processed within our agreed timescales; we’ve reduced the cost of claims processing by 23%; customer satisfaction is at a record 83% (compared with 59% in 2017); 98% of claims are submitted online; and a thirds of claims are now resolved within 5 days – something we once thought totally unachievable.

Q: What does the accolade of being announced as number 23 on the OUTstanding Public Sector Executive Role Model list 2019 mean to you on a professional level?

DB: I was appointed Head of HR & Organisational Development in March 2013.  I was promoted to the Executive Team in April 2014 and two years ago I was appointed Chief People Officer in recognition of my contribution to the Scheme.  I am the first openly gay man to be appointed to the Executive and have transformed the Scheme’s approach to D&I.  I have promoted LGBT+ inclusion across our business and the Regulatory Family. Perhaps most importantly, because of my proactive leadership, the FSCS now has a Board Champion for Diversity and Inclusion: something it did not have previously. To be recognised externally by a group of high-profile judges is very rewarding.

Q: And on a personal level?

DB:  My first memories of Pride go all the way back to 1993 in Brockwell Park; I have marched almost every year since because I recognise that I have a duty to always raise awareness and understanding of the LGBT+ community. At 18 I was the victim of a homophobic attack. So, from the start of my adult life I’ve been aware of the often-violent impact of bigotry and ignorance.  I’m therefore a passionate campaigner for the equal rights of LGBT+ through both my personal volunteering & corporate leadership. It’s wonderful to be seen as a role model.

Q: What do you believe to be the benefits of having a truly diverse and inclusive workforce?

DB: The results of the FSCS speak for themselves: greater diversity of backgrounds; experience and thinking has improved the performance of our organisation.  It’s quite simple: people work better when they can be themselves!

Q: How has the landscape changed for LGBT+ people over the last 10 years?

DB: The landscape has change dramatically: the repeal of Section 28; Civil Partnerships; Marriage Equality; the Equality Act and greater protection in terms of goods and services.  Our media contains positive representations of the LGBT+ community almost everywhere – including as the main protagonists or heroes and heroines. LGBT+ awareness is being taught in schools despite the protests and teenage boys and girls are taking their same sex partners to the Prom!

Q: What should companies do to make their workplaces truly LGBT+ friendly?

DB – People respond to people so the more visible you make your LGBT+ role models; straight allies and inclusive practices, the easier it is for people to come out.  No one ever said ‘…I feel worse now I’ve come out…’ – EVER!  Allowing people to show who they really are is what makes a difference.

Q: And what more would you like to see accomplished by or on behalf of LGBT+ people?

DB:  For all our advances, bigotry and hatred is alive and well – LGBT+ hate crime has increased dramatically over the last couple of years, so we cannot think for one second that the battle for equality is over.  We need to continue to educate; support and raise awareness.  We will only have accomplished true equality when we don’t have to keep stating our right to live our lives in the way we want something heterosexual people get as a birth right!


The Financial Services Compensation Scheme is the official 2020 memcom membership excellence awards Headline Partner. The FSCS are also kindly sponsoring this year’s Best Equality, Diversity or Inclusion Campaign and the Louis Armstrong CEO Leadership Award. These annual awards celebrate the success of professional bodies, trade associations, membership charities and other not-for-profit membership organisations and we thank the FSCS for their continued support in helping to build and strengthen the memcom awards.

Did you know that memcom has grown over the last 20 years, and provides recruitment and consultancy services to the membership sector? Reach out to us for senior appointments, non-profit consulting, HR consulting, business & management consulting or project management services for your membership organisation. Email Director, Julian Smith in the first instance.