Diversity and Inclusion  

Women on boards up 39 per cent since 2016

Women on boards up 39 per cent since 2016

Female representation on boards has increased 39 per cent since 2016, the five-year review of the government's Women in Finance Charter has found. 

According to research from think tank New Financial assessing the impact of five years of the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter, female representation on boards gone up from 23 per cent in 2016 to 32 per cent in 2021across a sample of over 200 financial services firms.

It also found that female representation on executive committees has increased from 14 per cent to 22 per cent.

For charter signatories in the sample, average representation was higher, reaching 26 per cent for executives and 35 per cent for boards.

New Financial’s report, the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter: Five Year Review, was produced in collaboration with HM Treasury, supported by Aviva, Virgin Money, Refinitiv and City of London Corporation.

The report looks over the five years since the launch of the charter to assess its achievements and review the changes. 

Yasmine Chinwala OBE, partner at New Financial and co-author of the report, said: “The five year mark is an opportunity to take stock of the progress of the Women in Finance Charter.

"While female representation is moving in the right direction, there is still a long way to go."

In March 2016, the UK government launched the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter to encourage the financial services industry to improve gender balance in senior management

It commits signatories to four actions, which include linking the remuneration packages of their executive teams to gender diversity targets, setting internal targets for gender diversity in their senior management and appointing a senior executive responsible for gender diversity and inclusion.

At the time, 60 per cent of a total of 72 firms who signed the charter had committed to having at least 30 per cent of women in senior roles by 2021.

The charter now has more than 400 signatories covering 950,000 employees across the sector.

Impact has been measured in three areas: whether there are now more women in the most senior decision-making roles across the financial services industry; how the charter has influenced signatories’ approaches to improving female representation; how the charter has informed and inspired the wider diversity and inclusion agenda.

The review found nearly all signatories surveyed (97 per cent) said their agenda to improve female representation had advanced over the past five years, and only a fifth (21 per cent) believed they would have advanced to the same degree without being a charter signatory.

At the current rate of increase, New Financial said its sample would on average reach parity on executives in 2033 and on boards in 2029. 

Chinwala said: “The five big wins for the first five years of the charter have been building a deep and wide signatory base, normalising the use of diversity targets, increasing female representation at senior levels, driving a shift in how diversity is viewed as a business issue, and ensuring gender diversity is a regular agenda item for excos and boards.