Much of financial sector 'failing on gender diversity'

Fewer than a fifth of senior executive posts in the UK's financial services are currently filled by women, according to an analysis of figures from the Financial Conduct Authority.

Much of financial sector 'failing on gender diversity'
The analysis by global executive search firm DHR International showed that while Britain's biggest banks were making strides on improving gender diversity in senior positions, many smaller financial services firms were lagging behind.

Many smaller financial institutions lagging behind

Figures from 280 financial companies showed that diversity targets at the UK's five biggest banks had resulted in 28 per cent of senior executives now being female, but that many smaller banks, building societies and other financial companies were struggling to improve the proportion of women in executive posts.Across all the companies, only 18.5 per cent of chief executives, chief finance officers and board directors were female with the number of female directors edging up by only 1.2 per cent since 2015.Simon Mansfield, DHR International's managing partner in London, said, “Encouraging diversity can be a long-term process. The progress for women at the top of these banks and building societies is promising, but somewhat slow.“The percentage of women on the boards of the largest banks is substantially higher than the rest of the UK's banks and building societies. This would suggest that firms that have been put under the spotlight are beginning to improve.“Initiatives to improve gender diversity such as setting quotas or using an external search agency have proved successful and, therefore, other firms may begin to adopt these practices.”

Women in Finance Charter: adding pressure

The report said that the introduction of the Women in Finance Charter, which was launched by HM Treasury last year, was likely to put organisations under more pressure. More than a quarter of companies that have signed up to the charter have published diversity targets and committed to a 50/50 split in senior roles by a set date.Coincidentally, a report earlier this month from DHR warned that a number of industries worldwide were facing “an alarming lack of qualified candidates” to fill senior roles, such as chief executive officer and chief finance officer – so-called 'C-suite' posts – that are likely to become vacant, due to retirement and other factors, in the next 10 to 15 years.“Many have yet to realise that CEO and other roles may be at risk; yet sudden vacancies, as they occur, can wreak havoc on an organisation’s productivity, company culture, public image and profitability,” said the report.

Impending shortage of senior talent

The report continued, “At many organisations, boards and C-suite executives spend much of their time focusing on protecting their business model from outside influences. In the process, however, they may be overlooking a greater risk that is emerging from within – the impending shortage of C-suite talent that will be vital to drive value creation in the future.“In the past decade, a greater number of companies have appointed an outsider as their new CEO, according to data from PwC. To find candidates who possess the necessary skills to fill their leadership void, many companies may need to turn to external candidates in the future as well.“Abundant options, however, may not exist. With a large number of C-suite roles that will need to be filled, and a shrinking group of candidates with the appropriate experience – or even 30 or more years in the workforce – the search to secure talent is likely to be a fierce battle.”For related news and features, visit our HR section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre