Charlotte Steventon (3)

October 22, 2020

Posted by Home (ENG)

UK Women in Finance Charter – Have we progressed?


What is the Women in Finance Charter?

In 2015, women made up only 14% of Executive Committees in the Financial Services sector.[i] In response to this finding, in 2016, the voluntary Women in Finance Charter was launched by the UK government to tackle gender inequality in the financial services industry by encouraging gender balance at a senior level.

The initiative asked financial services firms to commit to implement four key industry actions:

  1. Having one member of their senior executive team who is responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion.
  2. Setting internal targets for gender diversity in their senior management.
  3. Publishing progress annually against these targets in reports on their website.
  4. Having an intention to ensure the pay of the senior executive team is linked to delivery against these internal targets on gender diversity.

Companies that pledged their involvement had the flexibility to choose their individual targets depending on variations such as: company sectors, types, sizes, and structures.


Has it been a success?

Jump forward to 2020, and HM Treasury New Financial recently held its third Annual Review of the Women in Finance Charter as a virtual event. The Charter has now attracted 370 signatories, covering a staggering 900,000 financial services employees.[ii] A sample of 187 signatories were analysed and found almost two thirds (64 percent) had increased the proportion of women in senior management over the past year while one in 10 (12 percent) had maintained the same level of representation.[iii]

Andrew Bailey (Governor at the Bank of England) stated that the Women in Finance Charter has been “instrumental in changing the approach of organisations, including the Bank of England”. He added that “the Charter has translated talk into concrete action and real action”.[iv]

Without a doubt, the Charter is moving things in the right direction, but is the progress quick enough? Jenny Barrow (Senior Adviser at New Financial) spoke at the event, reporting that the representation of women in senior management roles has increased year on year since the introduction of the Charter, but that “the pace was slow”.[v] To accelerate the rate of progress, Barrow outlined the most popular strategies that firms are currently using to encourage others to do the same. These include “using diverse long lists and shortlists, promoting flexible working, diversity-related training, accountability mechanisms such as improved data and divisional targets, mentoring and sponsorship and parental leave options”.[vi]


The future of the workforce:

Each year the number of companies signing the Charter has increased exponentially and this rise in diversity is expected to continue, not just in financial services but all workforces. As mentioned, signatories are required to publish their progress in an annual review. This is a great way for companies to showcase their diversity and subsequently attract the best talent on the market. A recent survey by PwC found that 80% of millennials consider an employer’s policy on diversity, equality, and workforce inclusion an important factor when deciding whether or not to work for them.[vii] Indeed, the up-and-coming workforce considers diversity a key requirement. Therefore to remain competitive companies must seriously invest in their D&I strategies. This is supported by Yasmine Chinwala, Partner at New Financial and co-author of the report, who said “there are firms that are taking this agenda seriously and driving strategic change. Those that do not take action, and swiftly, run a real risk of being left behind".[viii]



Executive Network Group are proud to have diversity, along with data and delivery, at the core of our recruitment strategy. Find out more here.