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Govt-backed charter to link City bonuses to gender diversity

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A Government-backed review of gender diversity in financial services has called on firms to link executive bonuses to the appointment of women in senior positions.

The charter sets out how to implement the recommendations in a report led by Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia.

In particular, the report recommends financial services companies “connect parts of the remuneration packages of their executive teams to gender balance targets”.

It also urges firms to set internal targets for gender diversity in their senior management, publish progress reports annually against these targets, and appoint an executive solely responsible for gender, diversity, and inclusion.

However, it has stopped short of mandating specific targets, preferring instead to allow each firm to create individual incentive structures to boost diversity.

Lenders including Virgin Money, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland have committed to implementing the charter, as has Columbia Threadneedle.

The Treasury will publish a full list of signatories to the charter after three months.

Gadhia says: “The objective of the review was to understand what more could be done to get more women into senior leadership positions. To achieve this, we had an open, transparent and democratic debate, and involved as many firms and individuals as possible to hear all the relevant voices and win broad and widespread support.

“Our research showed that in 2015, women made up only 14 per cent of executive committees in the financial services sector. Too few women get to the top and this is not just about childcare.

“Women are leaving because the culture isn’t right. It’s very encouraging that a number of major financial services companies have already agreed to implement our recommendations. As a result, the issue will now be addressed in a way the City recognises. Make it public, measure it and report on it. What gets published gets done.

“The social and economic benefits are clear and I look forward to more financial services companies signing up to the charter in due course.”

Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners managing director and Insurance Institute of London diversity champion Robert Reid says: “This report underlines the fact that diversity and inclusion should not be an afterthought or given cursory attention; it needs to be part of all firms’ DNA.

“We cannot expect to reach society as a whole if our workforce is not diverse and inclusive.”

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