Global financial firms join UK’s ‘Women in Finance’ initiative

72 investment, insurance and banking firms from across the globe have signed a ‘Women in Finance Charter’ pledge for improved gender balance across financial services.

The charter is is a commitment by UK’s HM Treasury and signatory firms to work together to build a more balanced and fair industry and, according to a statement released by HM Treasury today, reflects the UK government’s aspiration to see gender balance at all levels across financial services firms.

Names such as Standard Life, Schroders, Aberdeen, Hendersons, Morgan Stanley and a host of other UK-based international and UK financial companies, have signed the first phase implementation of the charter, HM Treasury stated.

Firms that have signed have committed to implement four key industry actions, as recommended in  in Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money, who in March, published her review into the representation of women in senior managerial positions in financial services.

In early October this list will be updated with additional signatories and links to signatory firms’ targets as published on their websites.

Progression of women

The charter outlines the following: It commits firms to supporting the progression of women into senior roles in the financial services sector by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level; recognises the diversity of the sector and that firms will have different starting points – each firm should therefore set its own targets and implement the right strategy for their organisation.

It also requires firms to publicly report on progress to deliver against these internal targets to support the transparency and accountability needed to drive change.

Each organisation pledges to promote gender diversity by: having one member of senior executive team 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;  having an intention to ensure the pay of the senior executive team is linked to delivery against these internal targets on gender diversity.

As reported, the number of women in key roles in fund management the financial services industry is some way below levels in other industries such as accounting or law, prompting criticisms of an ‘old boys network’ being at play in the City.

Similar initiatives have also been launched in the industry. As reported, last month, ‘The Diversity Project’ led by the Investment Association’s Helen Morrissey, is bidding to target diversity in “its broadest sense for investment and savings firms”, aiming to tackle gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, degree discipline, sexual orientation, age and disability.

‘Diverse workplace = stronger business’

Andrew Formica, chief executive of Henderson, one of the first firms to sign up, said that a “diverse workplace leads to a stronger business for employees, clients and investors alike”.

Keith Skeoch, chief executive, Standard Life said that in signing the charter he felt that the company was “taking another important step towards our goal of creating a diverse leadership population and talent pipeline”.

Marjorie Strachan, head of inclusion at RBS, said: “Ensuring more women are represented at senior levels in business is an issue I feel passionately about. That’s why we have set targets to have at least 30% women in leadership roles by 2020 in every one of our franchises and we’re aiming for full gender balance in all areas of our business by 2030.”

‘Critical to success’

Peter Harrison, group chief executive of Schroders added: “Diversity of thought is critical to success in modern business. At Schroders we are going a step beyond simply saying that it is important. Signing the Women in Finance charter is one action that enables us to continue to develop a more diverse organisation.

To read the full list of quotes from the firms that have committed to the initiative click here.

Firms can still sign the charter and formally commit to implement these recommendations by visiting www.womeninfinance.org.uk/ and completing the online form.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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