Women in Finance Charter – where do we go from here?

Kelly BiggarDiversity & inclusivity, Research, insights & industry news

Diversity - financial services - equal and different - Fram Search

Women in Finance Charter – where do we go from here?

I cover the wealth management and asset finance practices at Fram search, and I have seen an increase albeit small, in the number of female applicants for roles that have historically been dominated by men. However, the issues that hinder male/female diversity are still there. These are some of the key issues I see.
In March 2016, HM Treasury launched the Women in Finance Charter. The idea was to improve gender diversity in financial services. We are now almost 6 years on, and according to the last annual report (July 2021) there are 400 signatories across the financial sector.

The average proportion of women has increased from 14% to 22% on executive committees across the UK finance sector, and from 23% to 32% on boards, since the charter was put in place. These are some positive numbers, and the charter should be celebrated for its achievements so far. However, there is clearly more that can be done.

I cover the wealth management and asset finance practices here at Fram Search, and I have seen an increase, albeit small, in the number of female applicants for roles that have historically been dominated by men. However, the issues that hinder male/female diversity are still there.

Shortage of diverse talent

The most common challenge we face in recruitment is a shortage of diverse talent, particularly in investment roles. This is compounded by companies counter offering to keep female employees, or by strong competition for female candidates in senior roles.

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Lack of pipeline

Companies do not yet have an adequate pipeline of women coming through the ranks. It will take time and effort to develop talent internally.

Low turnover in senior roles

Even where there are female candidates available for a senior role, the low natural turnover of roles is a challenge, particularly at smaller firms.  However, one positive that has come out of COVID is an unexpected churn of senior individuals, who have suddenly realised that work life balance is important, and early retirements are being considered.

Attracting talent into the industry

The financial services industry has an historic reputation of being very male dominated, with a stigma of poor workplace culture, long unsociable hours, and an archaic view on female employees. This is no longer true, but it is a reputation that is hard to shake, and the industry needs to do more to change these preconceptions.

Pay

This is still an issue in the industry, again one that has vastly improved overall and is being addressed. However, I still speak to female candidates who are on less than their male counterparts for doing the same, if not sometimes more responsible, role.
Gender diversity in sales
Until these issues are addressed, and it will take time, we will not see a balanced male/female workforce. However, programmes like the Women in Finance Charter are a step in the right direction. An open conversation about concerns women have in applying for senior roles and rising awareness is a step in the right direction. Promoting financial services as a great industry for women to be a part of and develop a career in is a step in the right direction. Finally talking to experienced recruiters who understand the industry, individuals' need, concerns and care about the companies they represent, is a step in the right direction.

About Fram Search

Established in 2010 by Simon Roderick, a recruiter with 20 years City recruitment experience, Fram Search is a specialist financial services recruitment consultancy. We focus on permanent and interim recruitment in the UK & internationally.

We provide high quality contingent and retained recruitment to boutiques and global brands. We have long established relationships and access to deep talent pools. Fram takes a highly consultative approach, and we have a quality over quantity ethos. We are proud that our contingent fill rate is nearly three the industry average and we augment our retained search methodology with rigorous psychometric testing. Champions of diversity & inclusion, all staff have undertaken unconscious bias training.

Please contact us on 01525 864 372 / info@framsearch.com to learn more.

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