Britain’s finance sector too slow to hire women to top jobs

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s finance ministry wants more ambitious diversity targets at financial firms as the pace of hiring women to top jobs is too slow, a review said on Tuesday.

A Women in Finance charter was launched in 2016 by the finance ministry in a bid to improve diversity in the financial sector where just 14% of executive committee members were women in 2015.

More than 370 firms with over 900,000 employees in total have signed up to the charter and commit themselves to voluntary diversity targets.

A review by New Financial think tank of 187 of the firms found that only a third have met or exceeded their own targets.

Women make up 32% of senior management on average, still short of the 33% minimum target the finance ministry would like to see for all signatories, the review said.

“I am determined to see the financial services sector make progress on this,” Britain’s financial services minister John Glen said in a statement.

The review found that only 26 signatories have set themselves the goal of parity between men and women in senior roles, and that nearly 60% of firms have set a target of 33% or above for female representation.

“The COVID crisis has shown just how quickly companies can adapt,” New Financial said. “There is an opportunity now to challenge legacy thinking in all areas (not just flexible working), cement diversity as a strategic business priority and accelerate the pace of change.”

Catherine McGuinness, leader of the City of London financial district, said: “This review shows signatories are moving in the right direction, but we need to increase the pace.”

A third of signatories believe that linking pay to diversity targets has been effective.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Potter)