The Treasury will be looking to assess whether firms have made sufficient progress towards diversity, the economic secretary to the Treasury has warned.
Speaking at the first Personal Investment Management and Financial Advice Association (PIMFA) wealth and diversity conference today (5 February), John Glen MP, economic secretary to the Treasury and City minister, said financial service firms must accept diversity as a matter of principle as well as profit.
He said diversity could help firms gain competitive advantage as he challenged the financial sector to implement evidence-based approaches to drive diversity and gender parity in their organisations.
Mr Glen said: "We need an inclusive workplace for many reasons; ethics is one of those reasons, it is the hallmark of civilised society.
"But ethics aside, there is a strong business/commercial case for real diversity – it challenges group think and it gives you a competitive advantage."
While the business case for diversity was irrefutable, women still only made up a small part of most executive committees, Mr Glen pointed out.
This was despite the government's Women in Finance charter, which is designed to promote gender diversity.
To date, 300 financial services firms have signed up to the charter which collectively employ 780,000 professionals representing some 60 per cent of the sector.
He said: "The real measure of success is not just the number of organisations signing up [to the charter] – I want to see firms driving forward and taking this seriously; taking meaningful, additional actions so we can see a real shift towards gender parity."
The second Women in Finance charter annual review is due to be published next month (March) which will provide updates on the industry’s improvement.
Mr Glen warned: "I’ll be looking at these with my team very closely, and we will be looking to assess whether firms have made sufficient progress and whether they are taking appropriately ambitious actions to inform government action going forward.
"To have a real impact it's important that we focus on what works, collaboratively, and with a collective voice that promotes progression of women."
He added: "It’s an issue worthy of no less than national attention. I am not going to be holding back, as we look to the report next month, and what interventions are needed by the government to push this agenda."
"I don’t want to be having the same discussion in five years time and so challenge everyone to think about what you can do to drive change in your organisation."
The minister pointed out he had seen the positive impact diversity had within the Treasury.
He said: "We set a target to increase the representation of women in the senior civil service by 50 per cent by 2020.
"In 2017, 39 out of 87 (43 per cent) of people in the senior civil service were women and this has now risen to 48.2 per cent; we’re committed to building on the progress already made."