Women in Finance report highlights progress in female leadership

March 22, 2023

The latest Women in Finance report highlights how the finance industry is making positive changes toward increasing female representation in senior leadership roles in finance.

The report suggests that the average representation of women in senior roles increased to 35% in 20222 and that nearly three-quarters of signatories increased the number of women in senior management positions. Furthermore, the report suggests businesses are progressing toward their goals, with half setting a target of reaching 40%.

The HM Treasury introduced the Women in Finance Charter in 2016 and has published a review of the progress annually in partnership with the think tank New Financial. Certifiers of the Charter must declare their progress to the Treasury against their independent targets for women in senior management roles.

Overall this year’s report was very positive, with the main headlines including:

  • Average female representation increased to 35%, indicating an improved picture for Charter signatories, as this number remained at 33% in 2020 and 2021.
  • 77% of signatories have either increased (71%) or maintained (6%) their proportion of women in senior management.
  • Signatories’ targets are rising, with half (50%) setting a target of at least 40%.
  • Of the 73 signatories with a 2022 deadline, 44 hit their targets, and the remaining 29 missed, down from 31 in 2021. Of the 29 missing, 22 were close – within five percentage points or five appointments of hitting their targets.
  • For the first time since the Charter’s creation, the top quarter of firms (52) have achieved at least 40% female representation in senior management. 

Source: Women in Finance Charter Report gov. uk

In response to the report, Treasury Lords Minister Baroness Penn stated that the results were very positive and that the signatories have shown commitment to delivering on this agenda by utilising data, setting targets and working to develop and inspire the next generation of leaders. Baroness Penn believes the report should indicate progress and remind us to stay focused. Penn wants to ensure the Charter remains a tool for maintaining competition, innovation and productivity. 

Amanda Blanc, CEO at Aviva and Government Women in Finance Champion, explains that the results are encouraging but believes we must continue progressing to ensure lasting changes. It’s positive that leaders are accountable for diversity in their business and that data is used effectively to support this issue.

Blanc highlights that a quarter of businesses now have 40% of women in senior management roles. While this is promising, we must continue to do more to ensure we improve the rate of change to achieve permanent acceptance of women in finance. Yasmine Chinwala, partner at New Finance and the lead author of the report, believes the progress is evidence that the principles of the Charter work. They encourage businesses to focus on the challenge of female representation like other strategic areas, with a target, progress and accountability. 

The data suggests that more businesses are discovering the connection between diversity targets and pay is making a difference, with over 60% reporting that the link to pay has been effective. Creating this link to pay means diversity is increasingly recognised as a business issue rather than an independent or voluntary issue managed by D&I teams.

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