Better World

Sexism in the City?

The Gender Pay Gap Challenge for Financial Services

Today is the deadline for the first mandatory reporting of UK companies’ gender pay gap data – and as the stragglers file, the financial services sector looks set to come last in the rankings.

This is disappointing but hardly a surprise; despite the launch of countless diversity initiatives since the financial crisis – which made the case for better gender balance all too clearly – there are still very few women are at the top or even the middle of many financial institutions.

In my view this is not because of sexism in the City today. The unsavoury revelations around the Presidents Club dinner earlier this year did not reflect the City most of us recognise now. We’ve made considerable progress around culture in the 30 years since I started my career, but the legacy of the past comes back to haunt us, particularly when it comes to encouraging more women to consider a career in financial services.

The good news is there’s little dispute today that this is a problem. Just about every CEO agrees; greater progress in attracting and promoting more women would be good for their firm’s culture, improve innovation and help them connect better with customers.

The question is not ‘why’ but ‘how’?

We need a new approach, one that will fundamentally change working practices in the City not just for women but for men too.

It’s time to bring gender equality into the mainstream, to make it integral to the modernisation of our businesses and lives. Other factors are creating the right context. The digital revolution is shaking up working practices for both men and women, while increasing longevity is creating more varied career patterns. And the next generation expects work-life balance, with men playing a role in their future families’ upbringing and women having equal career opportunities. This powerful cocktail gives us a brand-new opportunity to change the system - and so create a modern, diverse City.

So let’s seize the moment and take the gender pay gap challenge as a catalyst for bigger change.


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