The HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter was launched by the UK government in March 2016 to encourage the financial services industry to improve gender balance in senior management. As of March 2021, the Charter now has more than 400 signatories covering 950,000 employees across the sector.
Now in its fourth year, the annual review monitors the progress of signatories against their Charter commitments to increase female representation in senior management, and holds them to account against the four Charter principles:
- To have one member of the senior executive team who is responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion
- To set internal targets for gender diversity in senior management
- To publish progress annually against these targets on the company’s website
- To have an intention to ensure the pay of the senior executive team is linked to delivery against these internal targets.
Chaired by Yasmine Chinwala, partner at New Financial, and one of the authors of the report, speakers included John Glen MP, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister.
The review noted that “2020 marked the biggest test yet for the 209 Charter signatories in this analysis. While more than 70% have met or are on track to meet their targets for female representation in senior management, the rest either missed their 2020 deadlines or are falling behind on their future targets”.
Sestini & Co have been signatories to the Charter since its inception in 2016, and were pleased to join a well-attended online event on 18 March 2021 to discuss the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter Annual Review 2020.
Progress made and the impact of the “new normal”
This year’s analysis included data from 209 signatories and looked at:
- Progress: it was found that 81 of the group of 209 were approaching their target deadlines at the end of the year
- New this year: this looked at the impact Covid has had on the workforce, particularly on gender diversity
- Driving progress: this focused on what signatories are doing to achieve their targets, particularly in relation to recruitment, and promoting and retaining more women.
John Glen MP emphasised that women’s jobs were 1.8 times more vulnerable during the pandemic than men’s roles. He stressed the importance of continuing to hold firms accountable for achieving diversity across the sector.
Boosting diversity in the workplace
Overall, he remains impressed with the actions taken by the biggest signatories and their deep understanding of the complexity of the issues to be addressed. The constant theme is to boost the diversity of the talent pipeline as well as diversity at the boardroom level.
Whilst signature firms are making great progress, there is more work to be done. There needs to be more of a focus on the intersectional nature of diversity and to reflect diversity in all dimensions.
The opportunities of remote working
In response to Yasmin Chinwala’s question about the opportunities of remote working, John Glen emphasised the need to look at the disproportionate impact of working from home for different groups. In particular, flexible working or part time work opportunities see a higher number of applications from women and there is a need to look at how to create enduring lasting change for the status of women and the opportunities they have.
Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia pointed out that this wasn’t just about targets, it’s about getting the right balance of people in the right places in order to drive profitability and business success.
In closing, it was felt that a lot of progress has been made but that we are only scratching the surface and that the number one priority will be to bring tangible results.
To view the Annual Review, click here.
Find out more about our commitment to the Women in Finance Charter here: https://www.sestiniandco.com/about-sestini-co/
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