23 Jun 2016 11:30am

PwC signs up to Women in Finance charter

The Big Four firm PwC has signed the Treasury’s Women in Finance charter, which aims to promote a gender balance across financial services

Businesses who sign the charter pledge to support the progression of women into senior roles in the financial sector by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level.

They are also required to publicly report on progress to deliver their targets, in a bid to support transparency and accountability.

Kevin Ellis, incoming chairman and senior partner at PwC, said, “We are proud to have signed the charter and support the focus and accountability it will bring to help change the gender balance in financial organisations.

“We are committed to equality in the workplace and see diversity as a business imperative – it leads to better business decisions and creates an environment where everyone can reach their full potential.”

Each firm is encouraged to set its own targets and implement its strategy for their organisation.

The Treasury said firms who sign the charter pledge to promote gender diversity by appointing one member of their senior executive team who is responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion.

They are also expected to set internal targets for gender diversity in their senior management, publish progress annually in reports on their websites and ensure the pay of senior executive teams is linked to their targets on gender diversity.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also signed the charter last week. The watchdog said its pledge was part of its ongoing commitment to equality in the workplace.

“We have a strong gender profile and believe that a diverse workforce makes us a better regulator and a great place to work,” the FCA said.

A Treasury spokesperson said the list of charter signatories is not public at the moment, but it will be released in mid-July on the government’s website.

No other Big Four firm has so far publicly announced a pledge to the Women in Finance charter.

However, a KPMG spokesperson said that, even though the Big Four firm has not formally sign up to the charter, it is very supportive of its aims.

Melanie Richards, vice chair at KPMG said, “We are very supportive of the charter’s call to set targets and publicly monitor and publish progress against these.

"There is no question that having target zones creates a different level of focus for leadership. By measuring the diversity of the business, we can improve our understanding of cause and effect, and apportion responsibility to management to drive change.”

According to research published by the Treasury and Virgin Money earlier this year, women made up only 14% of executive committees in the financial services sector in 2015.

Moreover, 50% of women believe they have an equal opportunity to advance in their career regardless their personal characteristics or circumstances, compared to 70% of men.

When the report was published in March, Jon Terry, PwC’s financial services people leader, said that the commitments required would pose a challenge for many in the industry, but adopting a diversity agenda would likely have a significant influence on firms’ decision to sign up to the charter.

Terry said, “A number of aspects of the recommendations could require fundamental changes to data gathering, policies, processes and systems that will take time to get right.

“One example of this is remuneration, where changes to bonus measures could potentially require a new vote from shareholders."

Jessica Fino

Related articles

“Old boys’ network” keeping women out of the boardroom

Aligning boardroom talent with long-term strategy a key challenge, KPMG survey finds

Big Four in top employers for women 2016

Making working in finance add up for women