There has been significant improvement towards gender diversity on the board of financial companies despite the Covid pandemic, with seven out of 10 companies on track, or meeting targets on this issue.
This HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter Annual Review — compiled with the think tank New Financial — has published its latest data, showing six out of 10 financial service companies who have signed up to this Charter have increased the number of women working at a senior management level over the past year.
However while seven out of 10 companies are meeting targets, around a third of falling behind when it comes to increasing gender diversity at a senior level.
New Financial says this latest data gives an indication of how companies are monitoring the impact of Covid on their workforce and increasing the collection of diversity data, as well as hitting or missing targets for increased representation at a senior level.
2020 was a significant year for this Charter, with a third of signatories due to hit their targets just as the pandemic struck.
According to New Financial’s analysis of this data:
- More than a third (35 per cent) of the 209 Charter signatories in this analysis have met their targets
- Another third (36 per cent) that have targets with future deadlines are on track to meet them
- 62 per cent of signatories increased the proportion of women in senior management
Of the 44 firms that missed deadlines for 2020, the report shows that 35 came close – they were either within five percentage points or 10 female appointments of hitting their target.
The most common reasons they gave include setting deliberately ambitious targets in the first place and recruitment or promotion freezes due to Covid.
Two-thirds of signatories are seeking to quantify and qualify the impacts of Covid on women in their workforce. The most frequently mentioned include running employee surveys, offering support via network groups, adapting flexible working, focusing on wellbeing and adding indicators to diversity data dashboards.
The report also looked at what actions were helping to drive this change. Signatories still place the greatest emphasis on changes to recruitment practices to push towards their targets, but they are also increasing their focus on building internal talent pipelines. Firms are using data to improve accountability and quantify the impact of actions.
The UK government launched the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter in March 2016 to encourage the financial services industry to improve gender balance in senior management. The Charter now has more than 400 signatories covering 950,000 employees across the sector.
Publishing the report, economic secretary to the Treasury John Glen says: “I am pleased to welcome the publication of the fourth annual review of the Women in Finance Charter.
“Through the Charter, the Government has shown a commitment to achieving gender balance at all levels across financial services firms, and the analysis in this review shows how the Charter’s signatories fared in the last year.
“2020 marks a major milestone for the Charter with many of our earliest signatories reaching their target deadlines. I remain determined to see the financial services sector make further progress and, in the lead-up to this review, I met with many signatories to understand the efforts made to achieve gender diversity.
“I heard about the importance of the pipeline in achieving and maintaining gender diversity and I am encouraged by our signatories’ commitment to this. It is paramount that our signatories continue to take effective action to improve workplace culture and diversity.”
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