Finance firms commit to women in senior roles

Jayne-Anne Gadhia

Standard Life, Royal Bank of Scotland, Aberdeen Asset Management, Lloyds Banking Group and Virgin Money are among the 72 firms who have signed the UK government’s Women in Finance Charter which commits them to ambitious targets for the number of women they employ in senior roles.

The firms have agreed to publish progress on gender balance every year — and set targets for female representation at the highest levels of organizations.

The UK Treasury said that of the 72 firms, 60 have committed to having at least 30% of women in senior roles by 2021.

This includes 15 banks and 13 insurers who employ more than 375,000 people in the UK.

Thirteen organisations, including Virgin Money, the Financial Conduct Authority and Legal and General, are aiming for complete gender parity in senior roles with a 50-50 split.

Firms have also agreed to make an individual executive responsible for its commitments — indeed, 20 companies have named their CEO as the senior executive accountable for progress against their targets.

“The firms who have published their strategies today employ over half a million people and span across the breadth of the financial services sector, from FinTech firms to asset managers,” said the UK Treasury.

“Over half are also headquartered outside of London, with a particularly strong presence in Scotland.”

The Treasury said that alongside gender diversity targets, companies 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.

“Financial services is the country’s highest paid sector but has the widest gender pay gap, at 39.5%, compared with 19.2% across the economy,” said the Treasury.

“This means that for every pound earned by a man in financial services, a woman earns just over 60p.”

The recent Gadhia review 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 UK Treasury, commits signatories to four key actions:

  • linking the remuneration packages of their executive teams to gender diversity targets
  • setting internal targets for gender diversity in their senior management
  • publishing progress reports annually against these targets
  • appointing a senior executive responsible for gender diversity and inclusion