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Equality and Diversity at the Financial Ombudsman Service

Category: Employer Focus, ability, service, barrier, need, complaint

Equality and Diversity at the Financial Ombudsman Service

Treating everyone we deal with fairly and equally is central to the work we do. This is why it is so important that people can find us – and use our services when they need us.

It is also why we do everything we can to make sure that background or ability should not act as a barrier to someone having their complaint considered fairly and impartially.

Similarly, it is important that the people who work for us should reflect the diversity of our customers and stakeholders.

Access and Inclusion

We aim to meet the needs of our customers and stakeholders by:

  • Creating a work culture that values diversity, inclusiveness and respect, and empowers our employees to reflect those values in their dealings with the people who use our service and all other stakeholders
  • Promoting equal access to the Financial Ombudsman Service for all users and potential users
  • Providing clear, meaningful information about what we do and how we do it to our customers, potential customers and other stakeholders, in ways that best suit their individual needs
  • Identifying as early as possible any individual requirements that may need to be met in order for a customer to fully access our service; and
  • Being responsive to changing needs and requirements.

We work towards an "equality standard" in the way we provide our services – to help us identify and overcome any barriers that could:

  • Prevent any potential customer from accessing our services
  • Disadvantage anyone already using our service

This included an action plan to ensure our approach to diversity and equality remains relevant to the changing needs of our customers and stakeholders. Having completed this action plan a year early, we had our work independently monitored and our progress assessed. This is part of our commitment to regular reviews of our initiatives and actions in relation to diversity and equality.

In drawing up our equality and diversity policy, our equality standard and our action plan, we have taken into account the work we carry out as part of our commitment to accessibility and outreach.

Leading the way

In October 2013 we were awarded “Leaders in Diversity” status by National Centre for Diversity – for demonstrating excellence as an ambassador and role model for other organisations to follow.

And in December 2012 we were awarded the "Gold Standard" for the second year running by Committed2Equality - in recognition of our positive work culture and our commitment to the fair and equal treatment of everyone we deal with.

We also continue to work with a range of external partners specialising in diversity and inclusion. These include:

  • The Employers’ Network for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI) – providing us with ongoing strategic and practical advice in the role of a “critical friend”, and benchmarking us against a range of private and public sector organisations.
  • The National Centre for Diversity – who continue to work with us to maintain our “Leaders in Diversity” status.
  • The Institute of Equality & Diversity Practitioners – who we have hosted joint events with on equality and inclusion in financial services.
  • Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, which works for equality for LGBT people – and provides us with advice, helps us with recruitment, and acknowledges us as a diversity champion.
  • A range of disability, mental health and well-being charities – including Samaritans, MIND, Macmillan Cancer Support, Kidney Research, Age UK, British Dyslexia Association, National Autistic Society, Action on Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s Society – who provide training and guidance for our employees on disability issues.
  • The British Standards Institute (BSI) – who showcased our partnership work with charities and vulnerable people as part of our early adoption of the voluntary standard BS 18477: inclusive service provision.

Equal Opportunities

We are fully committed to treating everyone fairly and equally.

As an equal opportunities employer, we recognise that equality and diversity are positive attributes, and we understand and welcome the difference that an open and diverse culture brings.

"... as a free, independent service for consumers, we help people from all backgrounds – and all parts of the community – to settle complaints they might have with their bank, insurance company or finance firm."

We want the people we employ – and our work culture – to reflect and value the diversity of our customers. We’re also fully committed to helping all our people fulfil their potential – with first-class training and outstanding opportunities for career development.

By doing the right thing by everyone we deal with, by being committed to fairness, and by respecting difference – we believe we can offer a service we can be proud of.

Our Chief Ombudsman

Our equality and diversity policy covers all areas of our responsibilities as an employer – including recruitment, promotion, training, performance management, pay and benefits.


We will provide equality and diversity training to all employees to help:

  • Understand equality and diversity issues that may arise during the course of their employment
  • Understand their rights and responsibilities in law
  • Create a working culture which values diversity, inclusiveness, equality and respect.
  • Our employees' responsibilities

We expect each of our employees to help us meet our commitment to creating a positive, diverse culture, by upholding this policy.

The Diversity of our Workforce

49% of people working at the ombudsman service are aged between 25 and 35 – with employees ranging from 18 to 68 years old. Across our workforce as a whole, 45% are male and 55% female. Women account for 50% of our non-executive board, 57% of our executive team and 48% of our panel of ombudsmen.

33% of our employees are from non-white ethnic minority backgrounds. 5% have a disability, and 3.5% have indicated as part of our equal opportunities monitoring that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

As part of our outreach work with communities and consumers who use our service less, we promote not only our work as a leading dispute-resolution body but also our role as an employer committed to diversity and equality. This work has included, for example:

  • Featuring our three lead ombuds"women" in Women, the official guide to International Women's Month
  • Promoting the ombudsman service in Network News, the networking forum for BME graduates and young professionals
  • Working in partnership with Able and Access magazines
  • Appearing in the Silver Surfers Guide – a web resource for the over 50s
  • We run diversity and equality training for all our employees in partnership with a range of disability, mental health and wellbeing charities, the Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners and the Employers' Network for Equality and Inclusion.

The Diversity of our Customers

We publish information in our annual review about the kinds of consumers who use the ombudsman service – including demographic and socio-economic details, as well as information about customer diversity.

Our annual review each year also contains an overview of the work we have done to champion equality and diversity – and to make this an essential part of how we provide our service to all our customers.

Are you interested in a career with Financial Ombudsman Service? Click here to apply for vacancies.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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