U.K. Finance Firms Plan to Boost Women in Senior Roles by 2021

  • 60 firms commit to have 30% of top jobs filled by women
  • Targets follow creation of Women in Finance Charter this year

A number of large U.K. financial firms pledged to have almost a third of senior roles filled by women within five years as part of a government-backed drive to boost their ranks in an industry traditionally dominated by men.

Out of 72 firms that signed the government’s Women in Finance Charter in July, 60 committed on Tuesday to have 30 percent of senior roles filled by women by 2021, according to a statement from the U.K. Treasury. Thirteen organizations, including Legal & General Group Plc and Virgin Money Holdings UK Plc, are aiming for an even split between men and women among their highest ranks.

Virgin Money Chief Executive Officer Jayne-Anne Gadhia led a government-backed review that found women made up only 14 percent of financial services firms’ executive committees. The review, which was published earlier this year, recommended creating the voluntary charter, which asks firms to publish annual progress reports on their efforts boosting women in finance.

“Too few women get to the top and many don’t progress as quickly as they should,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in the e-mailed statement. “The U.K. is a world leader in financial services, but the sector could do even better if it made the most of many talented women who work in finance.”

Financial services has the widest pay gap between genders of any industry, with women making about 60 pence for every pound a man receives, according to the Treasury. All of the largest U.K.-based lenders and many major asset management firms have signed on to the charter.

As part of the charter, established by the Treasury, firms also agreed to make an individual executive responsible for the company’s commitments. The finance ministry said 20 firms named their CEOs as the person accountable for progress against their targets. The charter also commits financial-services firms to link the remuneration packages of their executive teams to gender diversity targets.