HM Treasury  

Half of financial services firms to tackle gender inequality

Half of financial services firms to tackle gender inequality

Nearly half of financial services firms have now signed on to a charter issued by HM Treasury that encourages companies to address gender inequality in the industry.

The Women in Finance Charter, launched exactly one year ago today (22 March), asks financial firms that sign on to commit to industry actions to build the female talent pipeline for leadership positions.

Currently 122 financial services firms, employing more than half a million people and covering nearly half of the sector, have signed up to the charter.

Since the charter launched, 77 companies have committed to have at least 30 per cent women in senior roles by 2021 and 23 firms have committed to an even gender split in senior roles during the same timeframe.

Some of the latest signatories include retail bank CYBG, payment firm VocaLink, Royal Bank of Canada, the US-based Bank of America Merrill Lynch, insurer Ageas UK, and other firms including Pinsent Masons LLP and NS&I.

Commercial Secretary Baroness Neville-Rolfe said the charter offers the chance to improve diversity of thought and for the financial services sector to better serve its clients.

“The financial industry is famed for its ability to identify opportunities to improve productivity. The Women in Finance Charter is one of those opportunities,” the Baroness said.

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money, said a “truly diverse” financial services sector will help to drive productivity and underpin the UK’s position as a “strong and competitive economy”.

“There is still further to go and I urge more businesses to commit to the charter so that they can play their part in building an economy that works for everyone,” Ms Gadhia said.

Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, EMEA at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said increasing the number of women in senior positions and addressing gender balance is “crucial” for the long term success of the bank’s business.

Female representation in UK financial services firms is currently around 23 per cent on boards, and only 14 per cent on executive committees, according to the Gadhia review.

The review estimated that a more equal distribution of men and women in the labour market could provide a 10 per cent boost to GDP by 2030.

julia.faurschou@ft.com