In September, the International Compliance Association (ICA) and Broadgate hosted a panel discussion on diversity and inclusion (D&I) in London. Chaired by the ICA’s James Rickett and Broadgate’s Matt Carter, the panel brought together industry professionals to reflect on the role of D&I in compliance.


The International Compliance Association (ICA) is a professional membership and awarding body. ICA is the leading global provider of professional, certificated qualifications in anti-money laundering; governance, risk, and compliance; and financial crime prevention. ICA members are recognized globally for their commitment to best compliance practice and an enhanced professional reputation. To find out more, visit the ICA website.

Panelists discussed the impact of D&I initiatives on their own lives and why developing effective D&I policies and procedures within a firm is vital to attracting and maintaining talent.

Diversity for business growth

Employees are now more than ever choosing to work for companies that align with their own beliefs and morals. They judge businesses not just on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) targets or inclusive hiring practices but on the extent to which they are putting such measures into practice.

What’s more, compliance professionals are rarely looking to work in an entry-level role for the rest of their lives. They’re looking for a career, with the real promise of progression. If a business doesn’t show it is diverse and inclusive at all levels—if all employees see at higher levels is the same homogenous group of people—then workers will recognize there is a barrier to their career development and leave for somewhere that will allow them to grow based on their talents.

A business can also leave itself open to failure if it neglects to ensure it has diversity of thought and knowledge. Rickett gave an example of how, while working in the Middle East, he had a preconceived idea of what money laundering and terrorist financing looked like.

In his own words, “Not recruiting a diverse team probably resulted in money being laundered because of issues that we weren’t able to see or issues we couldn’t stop.”

It was only through working with a diverse team who knew what to look for in different cultures and a new recruitment drive for diverse intelligence analysts that an accurate picture of the risk exposure of the firm was captured.

Diversity for our customers

“Compliance is customer focused,” said Kalissa Thomas-Mestanas, senior compliance officer at Kroo. “When you have diverse people, you will get a diverse outcome. … Our customers are not all the same; they have different needs.”

A firm with a diverse group of employees is better equipped not just at handling customer problems and issues in real time but at being able to plan for its needs in the future, putting policies and procedures in place before issues come up so they can be handled more effectively and customers treated more fairly.

Diversity for our people

A firm’s reputation might be damaged by poor staff retention, a lack of diversity of knowledge and thought, or failing to meet customer or business needs. But we can’t forget how damaging a lack of D&I is “to individuals and human beings when we’re not treating them as the unique individuals that they are,” said Jenny Hinde, executive director at The Clear Company.

Paul Asare-Archer, head of the compliance and privacy team at Virgin Media O2, echoed this by explaining he hadn’t realized he had been hiding parts of his life experience.

“I wanted my color to be invisible,” he said. “I didn’t want to talk about my working-class background. … I got into organizations where inclusivity was spoken about … and I became such a better leader. … I’m a completely different person.”

Strategies for a more diverse workplace

The panelists also shared D&I strategies they had seen work. They agreed it was crucial to create spaces for people to talk about themselves, their challenges, and experiences and break down the barriers that stop people talking about the issues they face. Having buy-in from senior management, the panel said, will help push a D&I agenda to the forefront and support real change.

One of the most prescient comments came from Asare-Archer, who touched on authenticity as “the key to D&I.”

“If you have an authentic environment, authentic leadership, it really unleashes talents in your individuals,” he said. “That’s just a really practical thing to think about.”

Authenticity, together with a firm, proactive approach toward implementing D&I measures, will help any organization and its employees protect themselves from risk, broaden their horizons, and discover new opportunities for growth.

The International Compliance Association is a sister company to Compliance Week. Both organizations are under the umbrella of Wilmington plc.