Four professional services firms latest to sign Women in Finance Charter

17 July 2017

Brickendon Consulting, Charterhouse Research, Smith and Williamson and KPMG were among 25 new signatories to the Women in Finance Charter, meaning a total 141 firms have formally pledged to promote gender diversity since the scheme’s launch in March 2016. The new cohort of consultancies joins with Mercer, EY and PwC on the list, while Deloitte remain the only member of the industry’s Big Four not to commit to the industry actions aimed at increasing female representation in business.

The UK Treasury has announced that a total of 141 firms across the financial services sector have signed the government’s Women in Finance Charter. The document, which focuses on increasing diversity in the finance industry, commits firms to four key pledges, based on the recommendations of a government-commissioned review by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Chief Executive of Virgin Money, into the representation of women in senior management in financial services, published in March 2016.

The pledges call for signatories to promote gender diversity by having one member of the firm’s senior executive team who is responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion, setting internal targets for gender diversity in the firm’s senior management, publishing progress annually against these targets in reports on our website, and, most controversially, having an intention to ensure the pay of the senior executive team is linked to delivery against these internal targets on gender diversity.

Four professional services firms latest  to sign Women in Finance Charter

Gadhia’s initial study had found that in financial services, women comprised 14% of executive committees, lagging behind the global average of 16%, even though 66% of new recruits were women, as female employees still found a glass ceiling was often thwarting their ability to rise through the ranks – an issue named by 34% of female millennials as why they left their roles in the industry. It was also reported that on average women are paid 40% less than men in the financial services sector, compared with 20% in other sectors.

Improving conditions

A PwC study earlier this year claimed the pay gap had since fallen to 34%, which some hypothesise illustrates an early impact of the charter. Signatories of the accord already included a number of professional service firms including Mercer, EY and PwC themselves, who announced they would publicly report their gender pay gap and set and publish gender and ethnicity targets as part of their responsibilities under the agreement – along with a number of other measures.

The firms are committed to supporting the progression of women into senior roles in the financial services sector by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level, while reporting publicly on progress to that end, having set their own targets to drive change and be held accountable by, as the diversity of the industry was cited as preventing more concrete, uniform targets.

Now a raft of 25 new firms, has seen the total backers of the scheme boosted to 144, with four consulting firms among the additional co-signers. Management and technology advisors Brickendon Consulting, marketing consultancy Charterhouse Research, accounting and consulting firm Smith & Williamson and international professional services giant KPMG all adopted the four key pledges as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan, leaving Deloitte as the last of the Big Four to have not signed up – though all four of the Big Four appeared in the Times Top 50 list of best employers for women in the UK.

PwC, Mercer, EY, Brickendon Consulting, Charterhouse Research, Smith & Williamson, KPMG

At the time of signing, new supporters Brickendon committed themselves to ending 'dusk-'til-dawn' culture prevalent within the financial services space, while pledging to provide employees with the technology and supportive culture needed to work more flexibly. Chief Executive Christopher Burke commented on the firm’s alignment to the initiative said, "We are in no doubt that failing to take advantage of the skills of highly-qualified women constitutes a waste of talent and a loss of economic growth potential. By signing the Women in Finance Charter we are publicly stating our commitment to a diverse and inclusive environment for all our employees."


Women remain underrepresented in UK's hospitality industry leadership

12 April 2019

Female engagement at the top level of the UK hospitality industry is still lagging, with the vast majority of decision-making roles continue to be held by men. Only 7% of the industry’s FTSE 350 CEOs are women; however, the pay gap in hospitality and leisure is far better than in other industries, at a median of approximately 7%.

The hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) sector is one of the UK’s largest employers, with 3.2 million people working in its segments. Despite a poor 2018 in terms of tightening consumer spending, the industry is still one of the top sectors in terms of economic activity, hitting £130 billion last year – besting the UK’s automotive, pharmaceutical and aeronautical sectors’ combined activities.

While the industry is one of the country’s largest employers, it still faces considerable issues around diversity at the top. New analysis from PwC has explored the matter, as well what initiatives the industry has engaged to open up its top ranks to a more diverse background.

Female representation at board level for UK companies and HTLs

According to a survey of CEOs, Chairs or HR Directors of over 100 of the most significant leisure businesses across the UK, the hospitality industry has a relatively male-dominated top level. This lags behind the FTSE 100, where companies have female board level representation at 32.2%. Meanwhile, the figure for the combined executive committee and direct reports stands at 28%. This is well above FTSE 250 levels, where female board level representation stands at 22.4% and executive committee & direct reports stand at 27.8%.

For the hospitality industry as a whole, board level representation came in at 23.6%, with FTSE 350 for the industry performing slightly better at 25.1%, while non-listed companies performed considerably worse at 18.2%. The firm notes that the figures hide that while some companies are making strides to improve equality, others are not moving forward – with the positive result reflecting more often the good work of some, while others are not taking the issue seriously in their agenda setting.

Blind spot

The study states, however, that while the overall numbers are relatively strong, the industry has a number of acute weaknesses. These include CEO numbers, with only 7% of HTL FTSE 350 companies helmed by women and 11% of non-listed companies led by female CEOs. Meanwhile, female chairs at FTSE 350 companies for the sector stand at zero. In terms of wider diversity representation, only 1 in 33 leaders at industry companies is from a BAME background.

Pay gap for HTL and hospitality

The report noted discrepancies between FTSE 100 companies and FTSE 250 in terms of improving the number of women at executive level. The majority have met the Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33% women at board level, up from around 25% in 2016. However, the remaining ~40% are not on target, and are unlikely to meet the target by 2020. A similar trend is noted when it comes to executive committee and direct reporting numbers.

Jon Terry, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting Leader at PwC, said, "To make real progress in diversity and inclusion, businesses need to elevate it onto the CEO’s agenda and align diversity & inclusion strategy to the fundamentals of the business."

Tracking progress FTSE 250 level

However, one area where hospitality travel and leisure companies are outperforming other companies in the wider UK economy, is the mean and median pay gap between men and women. PwC found that the median of the wider UK economy comes is approximately 14% – with upper quartile companies noted for a gap of low 20%, and lower quartile companies noted for differences of around 2%.

The median pay gap for HTL comes in at well below 7%, with the median close to parity. There are considerable differences, however, with hospitality at 7%, while travel comes in considerably higher, at 22%. The latter figure reflects fewer women in higher paid pilot and technical positions within the industry.