March 22, 2016 / 12:06 AM / 3 years ago

UK banks sign up to measures to boost role of women

LONDON (Reuters) - There is no “magic bullet” to get more women into senior roles in the finance industry, a British government-sponsored review said on Tuesday, urging companies to sign up to a set of voluntary proposals to improve their gender balance.

A woman carries an umbrella during a rain shower as she walks past the Bank of England in London November 30, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Virgin Money VM.L Chief Executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia led the review as part of a drive to increase economic productivity in Britain. According to an OECD estimate, labour market gender equality could boost British GDP by 10 percent by 2030.

The four main planks of Gadhia’s report are included in a voluntary Charter for which Virgin Money and a number of rival banks will sign up.

They recommend that internal targets be set for gender diversity in senior management, that pay packages be linked to a firm’s gender balance, that companies appoint an executive responsible for gender, diversity and inclusion, and that companies report gender statistics publicly.

However, the review stopped short of recommending any formal targets or the introduction of quotas.

“In the end, we did not find a magic bullet. All organisations are different and have differing priorities. All individuals necessarily have different requirements and views,” Gadhia wrote in the report.

Besides Virgin Money, representatives from Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L), Barclays (BARC.L), HSBC (HSBA.L) and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) will also commit to improving gender diversity in their firms.

“It is fantastic that a number of leading banks have already committed to sign up to our new Women in Finance Charter and I encourage all firms across the sector to follow suit,” said Harriett Baldwin, Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

The Treasury will publish a list of the firms who have signed up to the Charter after three months.

Women are still underrepresented in Britain’s financial services industry, making up only 14 percent of executive committees in 2015, according to research for the review.

In Britain, women in financial services on average earned 55 percent less annually than their male counterparts, a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission showed, compared to an economy-wide pay gap of 28 percent across all industries.

In Britain, some progress towards greater equality has been made across industries as a whole over the past five years.

Women now account for 26 percent of board positions in the FTSE 100, up from 12.5 percent in 2010, another government-sponsored report, the Davies Review, found in October.

Editing by Keith Weir

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