HM Treasury has made a pledge to improve the gender balance within the financial services industry. Financial services firms take on many young female graduates, but most do not get past the mid-tier and some leave the industry entirely. Joey Horn has had multiple positions in finance and is an avid advocate for women. However, as seniority levels rise, there is unequal gender representation in finance, with only 14% of executive positions held by women.
Former CEO of Virgin Money, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, was asked by the government to lead a review into the underrepresentation of women in senior management positions within the financial services sector. The review, titled Empowering Productivity: Harnessing the Talents of Women in Financial Services, was intended to compliment the government’s wider programme to support women in the workplace and address gender inequality.
Through examining the pool of executive talent below board level, the review made many observations, leading to four main recommendations that together make up the Women in Finance Charter:
- Organisations should each appoint a member of their senior executive team to be responsible and accountable for gender inclusion and diversity.
- Internal targets for senior management diversity should be set and published
- Annual progress towards these targets should be published on company websites
- The senior executive team should have pay linked to delivery against gender diversity targets
The government encourages businesses to sign the Charter and promise to implement these targets according to the recommendations made by the review. It is believed that widespread adoption of these recommendations will lead to meaningful change in the financial services industry. The competitive global economy can only benefit from making the most of its available workforce.
With headquarters in the UK, Europe, USA and Asia, the Charter has already seen firms of all shapes and sizes signing up. Signatories include global banks, credit unions and small fintech start-ups. All are asked to publish their gender diversity targets online as part of their formal commitment to the Charter.
Sesame Bankhall Group is one company that has signed up to the Women in Finance Charter. Lisa Winnard, HR and Business Services Director, fully backs the recommendations made by the Charter and said that gender diversity “helps to improve innovation, decision making and customer service.” Sesame Bankhall is one of over 200 companies to back the government initiative for improving the representation of women within financial services.