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The Women in Finance Charter is a UK government initiative launched by HM Treasury in March 2016, aimed at encouraging improvements in gender balance at senior levels in the financial industry.

In July 2018, it was announced that 67 new signatories had been added to the Women in Finance Charter, bringing the total up to 272. By November 2018, announcements were being made that the Charter had achieved more than 300 signatories.

As former Vice-President of Mergers & Acquisitions at Credit Suisse First Boston (1994-1996), Joey Horn has experience in a senior position within the financial sector. The Charter seeks to ensure more progression by women into senior financial roles, addressing issues of gender balance and recognising the diversity of the financial sector.

The Charter covers more than 760,000 individual employees across the UK’s financial services sector. The key commitments of the Charter can be viewed in the PDF attachment to this post.

The first annual review of the Women in Finance Charter took place in March 2018, where it was discovered that more than a quarter (28%) of all signatories were able to say they had already met their targets in the first year for female representation at senior management level. Some further statistics from the review can be seen in the embedded infographic.

There are now more than 270 companies across the UK that have demonstrated their commitment to promoting diversity and gender equality through signing the Charter, including JP Morgan, Yorkshire Building Society, Investec Asset Management and Admiral Group, all of whom signed up between the 1st of March and the 30th of June 2018.

Jayne-Anne Gadhia is the government’s champion for the Women in Finance initiative and CEO at Virgin Money. Gadhia expressed delight at the number of new signatories and emphasised the importance of diversity and gender balance in creating a more prosperous and fair society. However, Gadhia also stated that more work was still required, and confirmed that the initiative would be maintained until every relevant organisation across the UK had signed up.

A Voluntary Initiative

The Women in Finance Charter was established as a voluntary initiative, meaning organisations are not required to sign up. However, it has been shown that management teams with the highest levels of gender diversity will on average perform better than those that are dominated to a greater degree by one gender. The short video attachment offers a definition of gender diversity.

John Glen, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury, commented on the importance of companies signing up to the Charter and making a public commitment to act on the fact that there are currently not enough women represented in senior management roles within the financial services industry. Glen argues that not only is addressing this issue the morally correct thing to do, but it also has a positive effect on business profitability and success as well as the customers.

Increased Engagement

While there has been definite progress in terms of the percentage of senior management roles held by women since the launch of the Charter, this progress is currently too slow for targets to be met. However, one of the key benefits to date has been increased engagement by signatory companies in activities designed to promote better gender diversity and accelerate the pace of this change as the years progress. The introduction of leadership and development programmes has been cited as one of the top actions that has been undertaken by Charter signatories.