5th May 2016

BBA sign the Women In Finance Charter

Written by Anthony Browne

In recent years the banks have made genuine efforts to ensure a greater gender balance across the sector, but if they were subject to a school report their work would still be graded with a “could do better”.

The BBA report “Diversity and Inclusion in Banking” showed that 31 per cent of board directors on FTSE 100 banks are now women. In total the UK currently has 26 per cent of women on FTSE 100 boards (ahead of the US, Australia and Hong Kong) and the most recent PwC “Women In Work” index saw the UK jump five places to 16th in the global rank of female economic empowerment.

This is all encouraging and shows just how the banks have driven change from their own organisations. But so much more needs to be done for the sector to be proud of a true culture shift in the way it treats, supports and promotes women.

Another step in the right direction is the Government’s Women in Finance Charter, a concise and simple agreement which I am delighted to announce the BBA has signed. Not only has the BBA signed the pledges but we will promote them and work with our members to build a more balanced and fair industry.

By signing the Charter organisations agree four pledges that will make a huge difference: having a senior executive take responsibility for gender diversity and inclusion; setting internal targets for gender diversity; publishing annual progress on those targets; and, having the intension to ensure pay of the senior executive team is linked to deliver against the targets.

At the heart of the charter is the simple message that a balanced workforce is good for business. No one can doubt that more diverse, integrated and equal boardrooms and offices will create fairer working environments that in turn will boost creativity and productivity. A genuinely balanced banking industry will ultimately serve better everyone from customers to shareholders.

It should be the case that in 2016 there isn’t the need for any pledge regarding a gender balance in our sector, but unfortunately there is still a way to go to secure real equality and the charter will focus minds even further. I know that diversity and inclusion is high on the agenda of banks, but anything which aims to boost the role and position of women in our industry must be supported.

One day there won’t be a need for charters, strategies and targets where gender equality is concerned and all organisations with get an A*. Until then we must continually remind ourselves of the work that needs to be done and commit ourselves to doing even better.

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