The diversity of our customers should be reflected in the diversity of our workplaces, says Jane Clark-Hutchison
Britain is experiencing a huge shift in financial power with 83 per cent of all purchases now made by women. Females own 48 per cent of Britain’s wealth, a figure that’s expected to rise to 60 per cent by 2025. By 2020, we could see women’s pay overtake men’s for the first time. Women will play an increasingly powerful role in shaping consumer markets in the years to come, yet some businesses have been slow to recognise this.
Whilst more women than ever are achieving independent wealth, statistics still show that, while girls outperform boys in the classroom, that success is not replicated in the upper echelons of the workplace. We know that the number of women who are chief executives of FTSE 100 companies is incredibly small – there are just five.
Research has proven that a diverse gender mix at senior levels helps a business perform more successfully. Creating an environment that develops individual careers and that’s supported at the very top is extremely important. Businesses in Scotland must aim to increase the diversity of their workforce and help unlock the full potential of their colleagues, whatever their background.
At Bank of Scotland, inclusion is a central tenet to our business success and we work hard to understand and support this diversity. Throughout the bank, we focus strongly on gender equality and in 2014 we made a public commitment within our Helping Britain Prosper plan. We’re determined to increase the proportion of senior management roles held by women to a minimum of 40 per cent by 2020, and we are on track to meet that commitment.
Through fulfilling this commitment, we’re building on our culture that we’re proud to say encourages innovative and agile thinking and we’re confident that this will help our business prosper.
For too long, women have been under-represented in business. Thankfully, this is now being addressed, as is the ongoing issue of the gender pay gap.
We would encourage all businesses to keep up to date with the changing demographics of its communities, ensuring the diversity of its customers is reflected in the diversity of its workforce. This will help to build better relationships and a better business.
• Jane Clark-Hutchison is area director, mid markets, Edinburgh and East Scotland, Bank of Scotland.