Women in Finance Champion Amanda Blanc today released recommendations to address the slow progression of women into leadership roles in financial services (PDF 15MB).

The proportion of women in senior management only increased by 1% between 2018 and 2020 (from 31% to 32%). At this rate, it is expected to take another 30 years for the financial services industry to achieve gender parity at senior levels.

The Women in Finance Charter asks signatories to commit to advancing women into leadership positions in their companies. To date, the Charter has successfully helped companies advance their gender diversity programs and drive lasting change in financial services. But average progress towards the goals has slowed in recent years.

In response, the Task Force responsible for the Charter for Women in Finance worked with Bain & Company to define a series of practical recommendations to help companies accelerate their progress towards gender equality. The recommendations are based on interviews with financial services CEOs, academic research, and more than 100 survey responses from all Charter signatory organizations.

Women, business and society cannot afford to wait 30 years when we can get there in 10 years.

Amanda Blanc, Chief Executive Officer of Aviva Group and Women in Finance Champion, said:

“Progress towards gender equality in the financial sector remains frustratingly slow. Women, business and society cannot afford to wait 30 years when we can get there in 10 years.

“We need to work faster and harder, for the good of women, for the good of society and because a more diverse company is more productive and innovative. Our recommendations provide concrete examples of good practice and a set of clear actions to guide us all towards sustainable gender parity.

The paper recommends that financial services organizations take action in four areas to accelerate gender diversity:

Recruitment: recruitment is a powerful lever for accelerating gender representation. Proposals include:

  • Mandate various shortlists for leadership positions with 50% female representation
  • increased use of psychometric tests
  • remove male recruiting ads
  • ensure the diversity of interview panels
  • start women at the top of pay scales for new roles
  • mid-career return programs to help women get back to work

Retention and promotion: reversing the trend of female talent loss requires a fundamental shift in approach. Proposals include:

  • publish bonus payments for senior members of the organization PDG and PDG-1 and -2
  • advertise all jobs as flexible
  • formal sponsorship program for women at all levels
  • full pay, equal parental leave, childcare, and benefit packages that support women through key life stages (e.g., menopause)

Culture and behavior: a well-defined inclusive culture is essential for diversity to thrive. Proposals include:

  • reverse mentoring
  • Senior Female Models Champion
  • funding and support for women’s networks
  • zero tolerance policy for harassment

Mainstreaming diversity, equality and inclusion: most efforts to change an organization produce poor results because they don’t focus on delivery – gender representation is no different. Proposals include:

  • detailed annual gender representation goals for all parts of the organization
  • gender parity objectives integrated into KPIs/dashboards for all senior managers
  • real-time dashboard to show progress against publicly available gender goals

Nishma Gosrani OBE, Partner in Financial Services Practice at Bain & Company said;

It is critical that we make progress now and bring about a fundamental change in the representation of women across the financial services industry.

“It is essential that we make progress now and bring about a fundamental change in the representation of women throughout the financial services sector. The sector’s reputation and its ability to attract great talent are at stake. This plan defines challenges and successes and provides a practical toolkit that CEOs and their leaders can deploy. Building the next generation of female leaders will be essential for the UK to attract top talent as a leading international financial centre. ”

The scale of the challenge facing the financial services sector – and the need for urgent action – is set out in the report.

Parental leave & flexible working:

  • Organizations surveyed offered a median of two weeks paternity leave compared to 20 weeks of maternity leave
  • 91% of organizations surveyed do not monitor unintended flexible working penalties, such as proximity bias.
  • 18% have a career recovery program (to allow people to return to work after long breaks, for example, time off to raise children)

Management mobilization:

  • 94% track and report female representation in senior management
  • 32% have a real-time dashboard with gender parity targets at executive and board level meetings
  • 68% have no female representation on all promotion committees

Embedding culture:

  • 18% of audit performance reviews for bias
  • 36% have an inclusive meeting protocol to ensure the right people are at the table and to eliminate “groupthink”
  • Only 20% of signatories surveyed offer sponsorship programs to senior women.


Media inquiries:

Helena Greeves, Aviva
07392 138 791
[email protected]

Joe Booth, Aviva
07800 698 836
[email protected]

Katie Ware, Bath & Company
+1 646 562 8107
[email protected]

Notes to Editors:

Charter for Women in Finance

  • the UK Government Women in Finance Charter was launched by HM Treasury in 2016 in response to unequal gender representation in the financial services industry, particularly in senior and middle management.
  • It is a voluntary charter that companies can sign to publicly commit to improving this imbalance.
  • More than 400 companies of all shapes and sizes in financial services, employing nearly one million people, have signed the Charter to date.
  • Signatories include organizations such as BlackRock, Aviva, Bain & Company, Monzo, FCA, Santander, Morgan Stanley, Bank of England, Mastercard, Zurich, Direct Line Group, Aon, Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, Nationwide, Natwest, Citi , Axa, Lloyds Bank, LSEG and New Financial.
  • Amanda Blanc was named Women in Finance Charter Champion in 2021.


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