CultureSprint: Psychological Safety in Financial Services

Organisational culture in the financial services sector is currently in the spotlight, as the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR) aims to improve conduct within the industry at all levels. As part of its efforts to transform organisational culture, the FCA recently introduced ‘CultureSprint’ events to consider the issue of ‘psychological safety’ in the financial services sector.

‘Psychological safety’ was defined by Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School as follows:

‘Psychological safety means that team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.’

This could include employees being willing to voice opinions, ask questions, admit mistakes or bring up concerns, without fear of the consequences.

Whilst the regulator cannot be too prescriptive about organisational culture, the FCA wants to encourage the development of healthy, ‘speak-up, listen-up’ cultures in the workplace. By encouraging organisations to ‘listen-up’, it is hoped that when employees raise concerns, organisations will respond appropriately and develop a safe environment where employees know that their worries or concerns will be listened to.

The first CultureSprint event was held in December 2018 and brought together 25 participants, including representatives from the financial services industry alongside behavioural scientists and academics, to discuss ways in which a healthy culture can be created and maintained.

Various solutions were devised based on the principles of behavioural science. A video on psychological safety and the first CultureSprint can be viewed on the FCA website and is of interest to any firm looking to foster a positive organisational culture.

About the author

Nathan joined RWA in 2016 on successfully completing his PhD. He previously worked in the private, public and charitable sectors. Nathan leads the content and professional standards team at RWA and is responsible for managing and curating technical content on the Aviva Development Zone and the award-winning My Development Zone e-learning platforms.

Since joining RWA, Nathan has written hundreds of business skills e-learning modules and assessments on a variety of subjects, including leadership and management, communication skills, human resources, employability, regeneration, citizenship and equalities.

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