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Seventy-two financial services firms, including HSBC UK, Santander, RBS and Lloyds, have published gender strategies, with 16 committing themselves to 50/50 targets for the number of women in senior positions.
As part of the government’s Women in Finance Charter, the firms agreed earlier this year to publish progress on gender balance annually and they have now set targets for women in senior positions.
Of the 72 firms who signed the charter, 60 have now committed to having at least 30% of women in senior roles by 2021 and 13 organisations, including Virgin Money, the Financial Conduct Authority and Legal and General, are aiming for a 50/50 male/female split.
As part of the charter, established by HM Treasury, firms also agreed to make an individual executive responsible for their commitments. Some 20 firms have named their CEO as the senior executive accountable for progress against their targets.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “It is good news that so many firms have signed the Women in Finance Charter and are now dedicating themselves to tackling gender inequality. They recognise the business case for doing so and with ambitious targets to deepen the female talent pool, these firms are leading the way.
“I want to see a diverse sector run by talented men and women and I look forward to seeing many more businesses promoting women and helping to make the UK the best place in the world to do business.”
Alongside gender diversity targets, firms have set out strategies for how they’ll hit these targets, including improving flexible working, making recruitment gender neutral and distributing high profile work more fairly. According to the government, financial services has the widest gender pay gap, at 39.5%, compared with 19.2% across the economy.
The Gadhia review published earlier this year found that in UK Financial Services female representation is currently around 23% on Boards, but only 14% on Executive Committees.
Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive at Virgin Money said: “I am delighted that 60 firms have committed to a target of at least 30% women in senior roles by 2021. Signing the Women in Finance Charter, and the commitment to deliver on ambitious targets, will help to build a more balanced and fair industry.
“Enabling women to fully realise their potential at work is good for strong, sustainable business performance, has clear social and economic benefits and I encourage all firms across the sector to follow suit.”
The Women in Finance Charter, set up by the Treasury, commits signatories to four key industry actions:
New Financial, a think tank working with the Treasury to monitor the progress of charter signatories, will be publishing an analysis of the submissions from the first cohort at the end of October 2016.