A round-up of the Annual Review of the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter
Clare Jupp (pictured) is director of people development at Brightstar
In collaboration with HM Treasury, New Financial held its second Annual Review of the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter today at the Guildhall in London.
I was in attendance, along with Jo Logan, learning champion for Women in Finance.
The event was hosted by the City of London Corporation and speakers included John Glen MP, the economic secretary to the Treasury and city minister, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the UK government’s Women in Finance Champion, Gwyneth Nurse, director of financial services, HM Treasury and Chris Woolard, executive director, strategy and competition, Financial Conduct Authority.
This event provided an interesting opportunity to gain an insight into the progress of Charter signatories, to celebrate successes, to discuss best practice around the principles of the Charter, and to network with fellow signatories.
Brightstar was an early adopter of the Women in Finance Charter, making the pledge back in 2016. Since this time, the Charter has now attracted 300 signatories, covering 800,000 financial services employees.
The proceedings were opened by Simon Duckworth, deputy chair of the policy and resources committee, City of London Corporation who reflected on the use of recruitment and advertisement initiatives to assist with the drive to achieve gender parity.
Next up was John Glen MP, the economic secretary to the Treasury and city minister, who reiterated very strongly how “an inclusive workforce is better for business and customers.” Signatories were then encouraged to “go further and faster in your goals.”
John Glen communicated how the initial aim of the Women in Finance Charter was to achieve an equal gender balance across the sector, noting that there are currently 300 signatories, covering a staggering 800,000 financial services employees. He added that a further 36 signatories have made the pledge.
He thanked Dame Jayne Anne Gadhia, government Women in Finance Champion and all of the signatories for their commitment, citing Gadhia as “the genesis of the Charter.”
Glen reported that 45% of signatories have met or exceeded their targets, with a further 42% in target to achieve targets within the required reporting period. This, he added, is a firm indicator that there is an increased number of women in senior roles.
In spite of this positive news, John Glen then went in to say that there is still a long way to go, adding that he had “seen the institutional barriers that we’re up against.”
Expressing dissatisfaction about the fact that financial services still has the largest gender pay gap of any sector and that it still feels like ‘a boys’ club’, Glen then added that it had taken a staggering 800 years for a woman to take her place as a Lord Mayor of London. He reassured the audience that he was “absolutely keeping pressure up at his end”.
Closing his remarks with a call to action, John Glen reminded signatories that “the onus is on you (is) as business leaders” and that he wanted to see real action “the length, breadth and depth of the sector.”
He also advocated that there is a big role for men too, stating, “we are part of the solution.” He reminded everybody that men are ‘agents of change’ and must continue to drive the agenda.
A panel debate followed, focusing upon the progress of the Women in Finance Charter. The panel debated also discussed how to drive momentum of the charter and comprised Gwyneth Nurse (director of financial services, HM Treasury) (Chris Willard, executive director, FCA) and Emma Holden (global head of HR, Schroeders). Questions from the floor included whether or not initiatives from other countries such as France, Canada and Australia are being considered and if there’s a danger that the UK is falling behind when it comes to gender parity.
Julia Hoggett (director, FCA) took to the stage next, outlining the purpose, composition and work of the Women in Finance Charter industry board.
A second panel debate followed, with contributions from Amelia Breitburd (chief executive, AXA UK), Bernard Charles (chief HR officer, Handelsbanken), Alison Jefferis (head of corporate affairs, Columbia Threadneedle) and Tim Hinton (head, corporate and commercial banking, Santander). This debate focused on what signatory best practice looks like for the four principles of the Charter. Questions from the floor included “What advice would you give to small organisations regarding being a charter signatory?”
The closing remarks of the event came from Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia, government Women in Finance Champion and former chief executive of Virgin Money.
Gadhia’s remarks in the Annual Report stated that the effectiveness of the Charter is a timely reminder that organisations can achieve real progress with focus and determination, but also that there is a long way to go to achieve real equality in British businesses. She also added that the review has shown that successful progress is all about strong leadership.
Gadhia talked about the origin of the Women in Finance Charter, reminding signatories that, “The Charter isn’t about accelerating women necessarily; it’s about treating everybody equally and succeeding together.”
She concluded that “the outcomes from the review are thrilling. 72% of signatories have improved equality: that’s fantastic.” She added that the Charter drives better business outcomes and improved productivity whilst also creating a fairer society in the UK. Referring to the earlier address of John Glen, she remarked that “the support of senior men is important: this is how we will make a difference.”
I was delighted to attend this prestigious event today and it was fantastic to hear how the Charter has extended its reach to cover over 800,000 financial services personnel. I am also proud to report and see ‘in print’ today that Brightstar is one of just 55 signatories out of the 300 whom has met its targets.
We continue to work tirelessly to drive change within our own organisation and across the sector and I am passionate about the intentions of the Charter and achieving its aims. As both John Glen and Dame Jayne Anne alluded to, an inclusive workforce is better for business and customers. Therefore, I urge organisations from across the sector to make the pledge and sign the Charter.
Brightstar is holding an event in London on 30 April for any organisation that is interested in becoming a Women in Finance Charter signatory. It will give a common-sense overview on what it means to be a signatory and how it can benefit your organisation. Signatory organisations (both established and recent) will also be on hand to offer support and advice and answer questions.