The Treasury claims that its new Women in Finance Charter will lead to more women bagging top banking roles.
The government initiative, which has 141 signatories including Axa, Smith & Williamson and Capital 1, asks companies to take action on gender diversity, including having a member of staff assigned to be responsible for inclusion and setting senior management targets for diversity.
According to new research conducted by think tank New Financial, 62 per cent of firms have taken specific action to support female career progression since signing up to the Charter.
Stephen Barclay, economic secretary, said initiatives such as succession planning, examining hiring practices and unconscious bias training, are helping to make the culture at these firms more female-friendly, and in the long run, should help firms attract and retain the best talent.
“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,” he said
According to the Treasury, the Charter is also being used by firms to improve on other types of diversity.
Over two-thirds of signatories either have used, or are considering using, the Charter as a blueprint to improve the representation of other diversity characteristics in their firms, such as ethnicity and sexual orientation.
Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO 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."
Over 560,000 people are now covered by the Charter – equal to over half of the employees in the financial services sector and more than the total employees in the mining, energy and water sector combined.
Jenny Grey, EMEA head of HR at Citi, one of the financial service signatories, said:“We are proud to sign the Women in Finance Charter and to demonstrate our commitment to driving change in our industry. We welcome the initiatives introduced by the Charter and fully support the aims and objectives in achieving greater gender balance.”
Over a quarter of the signatory firms who have published their diversity targets are committed to a 50/50 gender split in senior roles, and have set a date to achieve that target.
The Charter is part of a package of government reforms to improve gender equality in the work place. These include the £5m fund for ‘returnships’ and mandatory reporting on the gender pay gap from April this year.