Finance firms commit to 50/50 gender split in senior roles by 2021

Personnel Today, 11 October 2016

Thirteen finance companies, including Legal & General and Virgin Money, are aiming to have complete gender parity in senior roles – a 50/50 split – by 2021.

As part of the Government’s Women in Finance Charter, 72 firms have agreed to publish progress on gender equality annually, ahead of next year’s gender pay reporting Regulations.

Banks including HSBC, Santander, RBS and Lloyds have published gender strategies, committing them to ambitious targets for the number of women employed at a senior level.

Sixty firms have now committed to having at least 30% of women in senior roles by 2021, including 15 banks and 13 insurance companies who together employ more than 375,000 people in the UK.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “It is good news that so many firms have signed the Women in Finance Charter and are now dedicating themselves to tackling gender inequality.

“They recognise the business case for doing so and with ambitious targets to deepen the female talent pool, these firms are leading the way.

“I want to see a diverse sector run by talented men and women and I look forward to seeing many more businesses promoting women and helping to make the UK the best place in the world to do business.”

The Women in Finance Charter

Signatory organisations pledge to:

  • having one member of our senior executive team who is responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion;
  • setting internal targets for gender diversity in our senior management;
  • publishing progress annually against these targets in reports on our website; and
  • having an intention to ensure the pay of the senior executive team is linked to delivery against these internal targets on gender diversity.

Download the full list of signatories

Alongside the gender diversity targets, firms have committed to strategies outlining how they will hit the targets, including improving flexible working, making recruitment gender neutral and distributing high-profile work more fairly.

Financial services is the country’s highest-paid sector but has the widest gender pay gap, at 39.5%, compared with 19.2% across the economy. This means that for every pound earned by a man in financial services, a woman earns just over 60p.

UK financial services female representation is currently around 23% on boards and only 14% on executive committees.

Linda Jones, head of employment at Pinsent Masons, commented: “What is particularly significant is that not only have the signatory firms committed to targets, they have also published the steps that they will be taking to make sure that the progress they make is sustainable rather than short term.

“This commitment, coupled with the new law on gender pay gap reporting which will come into force next April, represents a major step forward in ensuring that diversity and inclusion is central to strategy for the FS [financial services] sector and should hopefully influence employers in other sectors to follow suit.”