Breaking down barriers to banking


Breaking down barriers to banking

Glen McGowan explains the reasoning behind RBS recruiting students with ‘non-traditional’ degrees

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Glen McGowan 
Head of RBS Early Career  
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18 December 2014

RBS CEO Ross McEwan presents winners of 2014 Indian Summer awards in partnership with the Princes Trust.

In recent months RBS has embraced a new approach to attracting students, shifting towards what we think of as 'non-traditional' degrees, such as humanities.

Unfortunately, many students who don’t study disciplines such as maths, economics or physics instantly de-select banking as a career option which means we lose out on a great deal of talent. By attracting a diverse range of students we will acquire different perspectives and stronger challenges to the ways in which we do things – this, crucially, will mean a better and more considered service for our customers.

Perceptions of the industry are often why students choose not to apply. Research shows that women now consider banking outside of their top 20 career choices post-university and applications from those who studied humanities would have been few and far between in previous years. Reflecting on that against our 2014 hiring profile is interesting. We now have an almost equal gender split and humanities are in our top 5 disciplines. This shows that our message is beginning to resonate.

In the last three years the Early Careers team have been visiting campuses across the country in partnership with the Princes Trust. The activity associated with this initiative has raised £70,000 for the charity and the related recruitment has attracted 52% female applications and 72% attendees from 'non-finance' disciplines. This year the team are also working to explain some of the bank’s lesser-know priorities like our community relationships, charity work, support of small businesses and our inclusive working environment.

Another aspect of our strategy is ensuring we don’t just attract graduates with a diverse range of thought – but that we attract people from all walks of life. We offer apprenticeships, internships and a school leavers programme enabling us to further break down barriers to our industry.

Our ‘Early Career’ proposition is intended to help us bring in a diverse range of talented people into the organisation, not just in terms of gender but also in terms of social background and diversity of thought. Only then can we truly serve our customers in the best possible way.  

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