Four professional services firms latest to sign Women in Finance Charter

17 July 2017 5 min. read

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."