Total number of female execs, at 14 per cent, is far less than the number of women at board level

Tracey Boles
Gadhia has conducted a review (Source: Getty)

FEMALE executive committee members at UK financial services firms typically number just 14 per cent of the total according to research by think tank New Financial.

This compares to female representation of 23 per cent among board directors at the same companies.

The findings, out today, show the scale of the task in fostering more gender diversity at executive level following a government backed review of women in senior management by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money.

New Financial collected data from 200 companies across 12 different arms of financial services including banking groups, investment banks, challenger banks, building societies, asset managers, and diversified financials.

The range of female representation across different sub-sectors in the sample varies widely. For excos, it ranges from 10 per cent for private equity up to 24 per cent for challenger banks. At board level, it goes from 7 per cent for fintech up to 31 per cent for banking groups.

Where women do sit on executive committees, they tend to be in support roles which are seen as cost centres, rather than in “profit and loss” functions, which are regarded as revenue generating.

New Financial found that nearly two thirds of heads of HR (61 per cent ) and more than half of heads of communications (52 per cent) on excos were women, but only 9 per cent of heads of a division or region, and just 10 per cent of the C-suite.

Yasmine Chinwala, partner at New Financial and author of the report, said: “The data clearly shows that without an active focus on improving gender balance in the executive pipeline, it just won’t happen.”

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money, said: "Too few women get to the top so they leave the industry prematurely because the culture isn’t right, and this needs to change. The social and economic benefits of fairness, equality and inclusion are clear.”

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