MPs challenge banks over gender equality

The House of Commons’ Treasury Select Committee has ordered banks and financial firms based in the UK to explain a failure to sign up to the Women in Finance Charter.

JP Morgan and view of central London
More than 30 UK-based banks and other financial services firms have been ordered to explain to a powerful parliamentary committee why they have failed to sign up to the Women in Finance Charter, which promotes gender equality across the sector.

UK based banks challenged by MPs

Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan and UBS are among 33 companies who have been given until the end of the week by the House of Commons’ Treasury Select Committee either to commit to signing the charter or to explain to the all-party group of MPs why they will not.In a letter to the financial firms, Nicky Morgan, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, said, “The Treasury Select Committee launched an inquiry into women in finance on October 19, 2017. As well as exploring the barriers women entering and progressing their careers often face in the financial services industry, the inquiry also considers the success of the (HM Treasury’s) Women in Finance Charter in securing signatories and improving financial firms’ recruitment and other practices.“The Women in Finance Charter has so far achieved 162 signatories as of November 2017. Estimates by HM Treasury suggest that these signatories represent over 600,000 employees in the industry, which is around half of the employees in the financial services sector. This progress is to be welcomed. However, the aim must be to see all firms in the financial sector sign up to the charter and to make a real effort to improve their gender diversity, particularly in senior roles.“The committee understands that your firm has yet to sign the Women in Finance Charter. I would be grateful if you could write to the Committee by February 16, 2018, setting out whether you will sign the charter with the next cohort of signatories and if not, the reasons why you are not signing up to this initiative. This letter and your response may be placed in the public domain.”
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Ensuring a gender-balanced workforce

Mrs Morgan said a gender-balanced workforce was good for customers, profitability and the workplace culture. But she added, “Huge multi-nationals including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and UBS are yet to sign up to the charter, and if they don’t intend to do so, the Treasury Committee wants them to explain why.”Reacting to the letter, a spokesman for JP Morgan said the bank supports the aims of the charter and is “considering signing up”, as did UBS, which said it had “undertaken wide-ranging steps to ensure higher gender equality”.However, a spokesman added, “For global firms, any charter focused on one country brings limitations and adds complexity. Nevertheless, we are considering signing the UK charter and remain extremely committed to supporting gender equality.”

Commitment to the Women in Finance Charter

The charter was originally published by the government two years ago. It commits firms to supporting the progression of women into senior roles, to publicly report on progress on delivering internal diversity targets, and to have at least one member of the executive team responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion.Companies receiving the committee’s letter were, AIG Europe, Iwoca, Algomi, JP Morgan Asset Management, Amundi, LendInvest, Aspen Insurance UK, Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe, BNP Paribas, MarketInvoice, British Arab Commercial Bank, Metro Bank, Bupa, NFU Mutual, Chubb European, PIMCO, Close Brothers, QBE Insurance, Coventry Building Society, Seedrs, Crowdcube, UBS Asset Management, Currency Cloud, Vanguard Asset Management, DueDil, Wellington Management International, Etoro UK, WorldRemit, GoCardless, XL Catlin UK, Goldman Sachs Asset Management International, Zopa and Invesco Perpetual.
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