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Women in Finance charter is driving change

Women in Finance charter is driving change

HM Treasury's Women in Finance charter has succeeded in driving change but companies are still struggling with challenges such as linking pay to gender diversity targets, a report has found. 

In a survey of 136 companies which signed the charter 71 per cent believed its requirements were driving "permanent sustainable change" in their own company and 67 per cent across the wider financial services sector. 

The data, published today (July 18) in partnership with think tank New Financial, found the most commonly cited benefit to being a signatory was promoting a discussion about gender diversity at the top of an organisation.

The charter was introduced as a voluntary initiative in 2016 to improve the representation of women in finance and now has more than 350 signatories, including the Financial Conduct Authority and Financial Services Compensation Scheme. 

It asks firms to set internal targets for gender diversity within senior management including for their pay to be linked to delivery against the targets.

Organisations are also expected to appoint a team member responsible for progression and inclusion and to publish annual reports detailing progress.

Of the signatories included in today's report, more than half admitted not undertaking any of the charter's four principles before signing up to the Treasury's initiative. 

And while the report found progress at the firms it also found evidence of companies still struggling to meet their responsibilities under the charter - including linking pay to gender diversity targets. 

The survey found maintaining stakeholder engagement to be the biggest challenge signatories faced in meeting the charter's commitments. 

John Glen MP, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: "It’s great to see so many financial organisations signed up to the charter, but we can’t be complacent.

"We need to make sure this is translated into meaningful change across the sector. So it’s reassuring that people are already seeing the charter as a driver for change in their companies, including on wider diversity issues too.

"Signing the charter is just the first step, and I encourage all signatories to continue this work so we can create a fairer, more equal industry."

Yasmine Chinwala, partner at think tank New Financial and co-author of the report, said the results of the survey were "very encouraging"

She said: "The data shows the charter has influenced signatories to take a new approach to improving diversity.

"It is vital that signatories continue to use the charter to stimulate discussions at the highest levels, and maintain focus on increasing female representation."