06Dec

Many occupations within financial services have been dominated by men for a number of years, for example freedom of information requests to the Financial Conduct Authority have indicated that only 11% of financial advisers are women, and fewer than one sixth of those holding a CF1 director position are female.

Issues such as the gender pay gap have also been much in the news recently.

John Glen MP, the Economic Secretary, spoke on the subject of gender diversity when he addressed the Tax Incentivised Savings Association (TISA) conference in November 2018.

He began by acknowledging that although he was “an Oxbridge educated, white male Conservative politician”, he added that “championing women in finance is a core part of my mandate.”

He added that he wanted to get to a position where “gender balance is seen as nothing less than a minimum standard of every organisation”, and ambitiously said that “this step-change must happen in my generation.”

His next set of remarks unashamedly called for the culture change to be driven from within by saying:

“Culture, mind-sets, and stubborn behaviour continue to entrench outdated modes of thinking. And for these reasons I am a strong believer that the cultural and psychological shift called for in the British workforce has to come from inside an organisation from the top down, and the bottom up. Now more than ever, it is incumbent on the executives and thought leaders in the sector to make the case for a real structural shift.”

Mr Glen then turned his attention to the potential advantages of encouraging gender diversity, when he said:

“Diversity of thought leads to better outcomes. A happier workforce reflects shareholder values and is increasingly attractive to investors.”

Some of the statistics he cited to support this view included:

  • Research by the Government Equalities Office demonstrated that equalising women’s productivity and employment to the same levels as those of men could add £600 billion to the UK economy, and that equalising work participation rates could add 10% to the size of the UK economy
  • McKinsey, the management consultancy, has published its own research showing that companies ranking in the upper quartile for gender diversity were 21% more likely to see better than average performance than those in the bottom quartile
  • Research by asset management firm Columbia Threadneedle Investments demonstrated that female fund managers produce more consistent, less volatile, performances that their male counterparts

Mr Glen highlighted the extent of the work to be done when he commented that, of the firms included in the Women in Finance report, 25% had no women on their Executive Committee and 17% had no women on their Board.

2016 saw the Treasury launch the Women in Finance Charter, and the Economic Secretary said of this initiative:

“I’m pleased to say that the Charter has been an enormous success – I am delighted with the impact it has had, both in terms of driving the debate and in giving firms a framework to set targets, and then develop and implement a plan.”

He added that the number of firms who have signed the Charter has now topped 300, and that these firms collectively employ some 780,000, or almost 60% of the total financial services workforce. The Charter commits firms to supporting the progression of women into senior roles within financial services. Firms should set their own targets and are then required to report publicly on their progress in delivering these targets.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article