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A Mortgage Solutions article By Clare Jupp

Ahead of ‘good news’ expected out tomorrow on gender equality from HM Treasury, Clare Jupp, director of people development at Brightstar Financial said signing up to the Women In Finance initiative has driven ‘staff happiness’ at the firm.

At a lunch briefing in London, involving Virgin Money and HM Treasury, Jupp said the greatest benefit has been the change in thinking, which has led to a more open minded, happier and productive team.

“We want everyone to thrive and we want rules in place so everyone can reach their full potential and know that no role, no opportunity is gender specific,” said Jupp.

“It’s not about working mothers, it’s about parental responsibility,” she added. “Equality for women does not mean inequality for men.”

Fear of not meeting targets is one of the perceived hurdles for signatories to the charter, she said, but these things take time and focus businesses’ thinking, especially when each firm can set its own targets in line with capacity.


No punishment, naming or shaming

Firms are asked to publicly publish targets on gender diversity in senior management, but only need to report the results of those targets to HM Treasury, so firms are not ‘named and shamed.’

Businesses also do not have to publish how those targets are linked to the pay of the senior executive team but must detail targets to HM Treasury.

During the debate, it was suggested that the link to remuneration gave the Charter ‘teeth’ and is a language people in financial services understood.
One attendee said: “Given the fact it’s going to take 180 years to get to equality at current rate, targets are a really good idea.”

The lunch included a drive to get more mortgage and specialist lending firms to sign up to the Charter ahead of the next published list of signatories at the end of June.

Over the last 18 months, 162 firms have signed up to the four aims of the Women In Finance Charter, with many of the biggest high street banks in the first tranche.

The four pledges enshrined in the charter to promote gender diversity include:

• Having one member of our senior executive team who is responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion;
• Setting internal targets for gender diversity in our senior management;
• Publishing progress annually against these targets in reports on our website;
• Having an intention to ensure the pay of the senior executive team is linked to delivery against these internal targets on gender diversity.

Since the charter launched, over 85% of signatories have committed to have at least 30% women in senior roles by 2021. Over 25% have committed to a 50/50 gender split in senior roles by 2021.