How the government's working to make financial services firms more gender-balanced

The government believes that a balanced workforce is good for business – it is good for customers, for profitability and workplace culture, and is increasingly attractive for investors. 

Financial services is the sector in the UK that has the highest pay, but the widest gender pay gap.

That's why in July 2015, the government asked Jayne Anne Gadhia, the CEO of Virgin Money to lead a review into the representation of women in senior managerial roles in the financial services industry.

The review's initial recommendations, released in November 2015 proposed that the remuneration packages of a firm's executive team should depend on the gender balance within that firm.

These initial recommendations were debated during a panel discussion at No. 11 Downing Street. This discussion was chaired by Stephanie Flanders, Chief Marketing Strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management - and over 80 representatives from the financial services industry attended to listen and engage with the panel. 

Talking about the review's initial recommendations, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Harriett Baldwin said:

"Financial services is at the centre of driving productivity in the UK, but it's also a sector where the problem of gender diversity is particularly marked – especially in senior management. That is why Jayne-Anne Gadhia’s review is so important, and it is a key strand of the work towards achieving gender parity."

Following the launch of the initial recommendations, the review team carried out a consultation and a public survey, asking those working in the financial services sector to voice their opinions. They wanted to hear from men and women across the sector, particularly middle and senior managers, those on maternity leave, recent returners and those that had recently left.

Jayne-Anne Gadhia's review team then published its final report, Empowering Productivity: Harnessing the talents of women in financial services in March 2016. 

Nearly 3,500 people – men and women – contributed to the final report through a variety of channels.

The report recommended that:

° firms set internal targets for gender diversity in their senior management

° publish progress reports annually against these targets

° appoint an executive solely responsible for gender, diversity, and inclusion

The government accepted the recommendations of the review in full and launched its 'Women in Finance Charter' at an event at the Bank of England.

Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney at the launch of the 'Women in Finance' Charter

The Charter is aimed at UK-regulated financial services firms that have 250 staff of more - although firms of any size can sign-up. 

It asks financial organisations to commit to four pledges to promote gender diversity.

On the publication of the Charter, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the Chief Executive of Virgin Money, said:

"Our research showed that in 2015, women made up only 14% of executive committees in the financial services sector. Too few women get to the top and this is not just about childcare. Women are leaving because the culture isn't right. It’s very encouraging that a number of major financial services companies have already agreed to implement our recommendations. As a result, the issue will now be addressed in a way the City recognises. Make it public, measure it and report on it. What gets published gets done."
Columbia Threadneedle signed-up to the Charter (Image courtesy of the Bank of England)

Virgin Money was the first firm to sign-up to the Charter and on the day it was launched, 4 of the financial sector's largest employers signed-up, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Columbia Threadneedle was the first Asset Management firm to sign up on the day, while Capital Credit Union lead the charge for mutuals. 

On 11 July the government announced that 72 firms have now signed the Women in Finance Charter.

In September all 72 firms published their gender diversity commitments. 60 of the firms have now committed to having at least 30% of women in senior roles by 2021. 20 firms have named their CEO as the senior executive accountable for progress against their targets.

To sign-up to the Charter firms need to fill in an online form.


This article will be updated as new firms sign-up.