Sector charge for more women to get top jobs in finance gathers pace as firms shake up succession planning and hiring practices

 
Rebecca Smith
Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gadhia led a government review into the representation of women in finance
Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gadhia led a government review into the representation of women in finance (Source: Getty)

A push to secure more women top roles in the finance sector is gathering pace, as a fresh batch of firms have signed up to a charter devised by the Treasury to build the pipeline of female talent for leadership positions.

Some 25 new firms have signed up to the Women in Finance Charter, taking the total number of companies involved to 141, including the Post Office, Citi and KPMG. Over a quarter of those signed up have published diversity targets and committed to a 50/50 split in senior roles with a set date to achieve the target.

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The charter is designed to improve gender diversity in senior positions within the sector, committing financial services firms to link the remuneration packages of their executive teams to gender diversity targets. Companies signed up also have internal targets for gender diversity in their senior management and publish progress reports annually against the targets.

And according to new research by think tank New Financial, nearly two-thirds of firms have taken specific action to support female career progression since signing up to the Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter.

Measures spanning succession planning, analysing hiring practices and unconscious bias training, are among those helping to improve the culture at the firms involved. And over two-thirds of those signed up to the charter have been using, or plan to use it as a blueprint for bolstering the representation of diversity elsewhere in the firms, such as ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money and government’s women in finance champion, said:

I’m delighted to see such strong progress being made by the financial services sector. Embracing diversity not only improves productivity and business performance, it is quite simply the right thing to do.

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The economic secretary, Stephen Barclay, said:

“For too long many women in finance have been underpaid, underrepresented and undervalued compared to men and it’s great to see the Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter making a tangible difference in the banking sector.

“Firms are waking up to the fact that promoting more women into senior roles is not only the right thing to do, but will also improve their overall business performance. Diversity of thought at the top is crucial in keeping the financial sector at the cutting edge.”

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