A new report from think tank New Financial on gender diversity in UK financial services reveals that 23% of board directors of UK financial services companies are women but only 14% of executive committee members are female.
What is the report about?
Gender balance in UK financial services has leapt up the agenda since the government asked Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money, to lead a review of women in senior management, and launched HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter. The aim of this report is to look at the context of the Gadhia Review and the Charter and discuss how the industry can engage with these initiatives as an important stepping stone towards permanent, sustainable change.
The report presents a detailed analysis of the data New Financial provided to the Gadhia Review on female representation on executive committees and boards across UK financial services, as well as a qualitative survey of six of the Charter’s founder signatories to draw out the 10 common themes and challenges signatories face.
Why is this important?
The Charter applies to all UK-regulated financial services companies with more than 250 staff. It is voluntary and allows companies flexibility on how they apply the principles of the Charter, but if companies choose not to get involved, they could face a more prescriptive approach.
The highlights of the report are:
- Nearly a quarter (23%) of board directors of UK financial services companies are women, but only one in seven (14%) executive committee members are female.
- There is a big difference between excos and boards when it comes to gender diversity and a wide range across the 12 different sectors in our sample
- Whether we cut the data by country, ownership, or the number of people on the exco, the average percentage of women on excos hovers stubbornly around 14%, indicating that this is the natural baseline for women on excos in the absence of public pressure.
- The UK government is now focused on increasing the number of women in the executive pipeline. The Gadhia Review and HM Treasury Charter are catalysts not only for discussion but also provide a clear set of action points – including setting targets for improving gender balance – designed to shift the dial.
- The biggest hurdle for potential Charter signatories to overcome is going to be setting targets. New Financial’s Diversity Disclosure research shows just 27% of companies publicly disclose any kind of diversity target. While it won’t be easy, and is more complicated for international firms which have to convince a non-UK head office and board, no financial services company would expect sales to improve without setting a clear target and having a strategy to achieve it.
Download the report – it takes just 20 mins to read!
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