Commitment

30 years to reach gender equality in senior management

Women in Finance Charter calls for urgent action now.

The Women in Finance Champion, Amanda Blanc, has today released recommendations to tackle the slow progress of women into senior roles across financial services (PDF 15MB)

The proportion of women in senior management increased by only 1% between 2018 and 2020 (from 31% to 32%). At this rate, it is predicted it will take the financial services industry another 30 years to achieve gender parity at senior levels. 

The Women in Finance Charter asks signatories to commit to progressing women into senior roles in their business. To date, the Charter has successfully supported businesses to push their gender diversity agendas forward and drive sustainable change in financial services. But average progress towards targets has slowed in recent years. 

In response the Women in Finance Charter Accountable Executive Taskforce has worked with Bain & Company to set out a series of practical recommendations to help businesses accelerate their progress towards gender equality. The recommendations are based on interviews with financial services CEOs, academic research, and over 100 responses to a survey issued to all of the Charter’s  signatory organisations.

Women, companies and society cannot afford to wait 30 years when we can achieve this in 10. 

Amanda Blanc, Group Chief Executive Officer of Aviva, and Women in Finance Champion said:

“Progress towards gender equality in the financial sector remains frustratingly slow. Women, companies and society cannot afford to wait 30 years when we can achieve this in 10.

“We’ve got to work quicker and harder, for the sake of women, for the sake of society and because a more diverse business is a more productive and innovative one. Our recommendations provide real life examples of best practice and a set of clear actions to guide us all towards lasting gender parity.”

The paper recommends financial services organisations take action in four areas to accelerate gender diversity:

Recruitment: recruitment is a powerful lever to accelerate gender representation. Proposals include:

  • mandate diverse shortlists for senior positions with 50% female representation
  • greater use of psychometric testing
  • remove male biased recruitment advertising
  • ensure diverse interview panels
  • start women at the top of pay scales for new roles
  • mid-career returners programmes to help women move back into work

Retention and promotion: reversing the loss of female talent requires a fundamental shift in approach.  Proposals include:

  • publish bonus payments of senior members of organisation CEO and CEO-1 and -2
  • advertise all jobs as flexible
  • formal sponsorship programme for women at all levels
  • full pay equal parental leave, childcare facilities, and benefits packages that supports women at key life stages (e.g. menopause)

Culture and behaviour: a well-defined inclusive culture is essential for diversity to thrive. Proposals include:

  • reverse mentoring
  • champion senior female role models
  • funding and support for women’s networks
  • zero tolerance policy for harassment

Embedding diversity, equality & inclusion: most efforts to change an organisation produce mediocre results because they lack a focus on delivery – gender representation is no different. Proposals include:

  • detailed annual gender representation targets for all parts of organisation
  • gender parity targets embedded into KPIs/ scorecards for all senior management
  • real-time dashboard to showcase progress against gender targets accessible to the public

Nishma Gosrani OBE, partner in the Financial Services practice at Bain & Company said;

It is vital that we make progress now and deliver a fundamental shift in the representation of women throughout the financial services industry. 

“It is vital that we make progress now and deliver a fundamental shift in the representation of women throughout the financial services industry. The sector’s reputation and ability to attract great talent are at stake. This blueprint sets out challenges and success stories and provides a practical toolkit for CEOs and their executives to deploy. Building the next generation of women leaders will be critical to the UK for attracting the best talent as a world-leading international financial centre. ”

The scale of the challenge facing the financial services industry – and the need for urgent action - is set out in the report.

Parental leave & flexible working:

  • Organisations surveyed offered a median two weeks paternity leave vs 20 weeks maternity leave
  • 91% of surveyed organisations do not monitor for unintended penalties from flexible working such as proximity bias.
  • 18% have a career returners programme (to enable people to return to work after long breaks e.g., time out to raise children)

Executive engagement:

  • 94% track and report female representation in senior management
  • 32% have a real-time dashboard with gender parity targets at Exec and Board level meetings
  • 68% do not have female representation on all promotion committees

Embedding culture:

  • 18% audit performance reviews for bias
  • 36% have an inclusive meeting protocol to ensure the right people are at the table and to eliminate ‘group think’
  • Only 20% of surveyed signatories offer sponsorship programmes to senior women.

-ends-

Media enquiries:

Heleana Greeves, Aviva
07392 138 791
heleana.greeves@aviva.com

Joe Booth, Aviva
07800 698 836
joe.booth@aviva.com

Katie Ware, Bain & Company
+1 646 562 8107
katie.ware@bain.com

Notes to editors:

Women in Finance Charter

  • The UK government’s Women in Finance Charter was launched by HM Treasury in 2016 in response to the unequal gender representation in the financial services industry, especially in senior and mid-level management. 
  • It’s a voluntary charter that companies can sign to publicly commit to improving that imbalance.
  • Over 400 firms of all shapes and sizes across financial services, employing nearly a million people, have signed the Charter so far. 
  • Signatories include organisations like BlackRock, Aviva, Bain & Company, Monzo, the FCA, Santander, Morgan Stanley, Bank of England, Mastercard, Zurich, Direct Line Group, Aon, Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, Nationwide, Natwest, Citi, Axa, Lloyds Bank, LSEG and New Financial.
  • Amanda Blanc was appointed as the Women in Finance Charter Champion in 2021.

Aviva

  • We are the UK’s leading Insurance, Wealth & Retirement business and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in Singapore, China and India.
  • We help our 18.5 million customers make the most out of life, plan for the future, and have the confidence that if things go wrong we’ll be there to put it right.
  • We have been taking care of people for 325 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’. In 2021, we paid £30.2 billion in claims and benefits to our customers.
  • Aviva is a market leader in sustainability. In 2021, we announced our plan to become a Net Zero carbon emissions company by 2040, the first major insurance company in the world to do so. This plan means Net Zero carbon emissions from our investments by 2040; setting out a clear pathway to get there with a cut of 25% in the carbon intensity of our investments by 2025 and of 60% by 2030; and Net Zero carbon emissions from our own operations and supply chain by 2030.  Find out more about our climate goals at www.aviva.com/climate-goals and our sustainability ambition and action at www.aviva.com/sustainability
  • Aviva is a Living Wage and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at https://www.aviva.com/about-us/our-people/
  • At 31 December 2021, total Group assets under management at Aviva Group are £401 billion and our Solvency II shareholder capital surplus is £13.1 billion. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.
  • For more details on what we do, our business and how we help our customers, visit www.aviva.com/about-us  

Bain & Company

  • Bain & Company is a global consultancy that helps the world’s most ambitious change makers define the future.
  • Across 63 offices in 38 countries, we work alongside our clients as one team with a shared ambition to achieve extraordinary results, outperform the competition, and redefine industries. We complement our tailored, integrated expertise with a vibrant ecosystem of digital innovators to deliver better, faster, and more enduring outcomes. Our 10-year commitment to invest more than $1 billion in pro bono services brings our talent, expertise, and insight to organizations tackling today’s urgent challenges in education, racial equity, social justice, economic development, and the environment. We earned a gold rating from EcoVadis, the leading platform for environmental, social, and ethical performance ratings for global supply chains, putting us in the top 2% of all companies. Since our founding in 1973, we have measured our success by the success of our clients, and we proudly maintain the highest level of client advocacy in the industry.

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