The strategy will aim to put at least 30 per cent of women in senior roles by 2021 amid recent criticism that too many female workers struggle to reach the top in the corporate world.
Strict gender diversity targets are among the measures which are to be introduced alongside plans for “gender neutral recruitment” and improvements in flexible working.
Edinburgh giants Standard Life and Bank of Scotland owner Lloyds, as well as Aberdeen Asset Management are among the Scottish firms which have signed up, as well as Virgin Money, Capital Credit Union and East Renfrewshire Credit Union. The changes are part of the UK Government’s Women in Finance Charter. HSBC UK and Santander have also pledged their support.
Prime Minister Theresa May: “The UK is a world-leader in financial services, but the sector could do even better if it made the most of many talented women who work in finance. Too few women get to the top and many don’t progress as quickly as they should or they leave the sector completely. So it is good news that so many firms have signed the Women in Finance Charter and are now dedicating themselves to tackling gender inequality. They recognise the business case for doing so and with ambitious targets to deepen the female talent pool, these firms are leading the way.
“I want to see a diverse sector run by talented men and women and I look forward to seeing many more businesses promoting women and helping to making the UK the best place in the world to do business.”
Financial services is the country’s highest paid industry but has the widest gender pay gap, at 39.5 per cent, compared with 19.2 per cent across the economy. This means that for every pound earned by a man, a woman earns just over 60p.
A recent review by Virgin Money chief Jayne-Anne Gadhia found just 23 per cent female representation on boards, but only 14 per cent on Executive Committees.
She said: “Signing the Women in Finance Charter, and the commitment to deliver on ambitious targets, will help to build a more balanced and fair industry.
“Enabling women to fully realise their potential at work is good for strong, sustainable business performance, has clear social and economic benefits and I encourage all firms across the sector to follow suit.”
The Women in Finance Charter, set up by the Treasury, commits signatories to a number of key changes including linking executive pay packages to attracting more women, setting targets for women in top jobs, and appointing a senior executive responsible for gender diversity and inclusion.