News & views

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Earlier this year Direct Line Group, along with over 70 other UK financial services organisations, committed to, and signed, HM Treasury’s national Women in Finance Charter. The charter aims to harness the talents of women in financial services, build a more balanced and fair industry, and drive change in the senior levels of the male-dominated financial services industry. This charter reflects Direct Line Group’s aspiration to see gender balance at all levels across financial services.

The charter came about following a government backed review into the representation of women in senior management roles within financial services by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money. Jayne-Anne’s review looked at the issue of unequal gender representation in the financial services sector that worsens as employees rise into more senior positions. The review, ‘Empowering Productivity: Harnessing the talents of women in financial services’ was published on 22 March, and makes four recommendations to improve gender diversity in financial services, which have received widespread support from the sector. 

  • Firms should have one member of the senior executive team who is responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion. 
  • Firms should set internal targets for gender diversity in senior management.
  • Firms should publish progress annually against these targets in reports on their website.
  • Firms should have an intention to ensure the pay of the senior executive team is linked to delivery against these internal targets on gender diversity.

Following a summer of consultation Paul Geddes, CEO of Direct Line Group, recently announced our targets in accordance with the charter. Direct Line Group is committed to 
increasing female representation in senior management to 30% by the end of 2019, and to specifically identify ten talented females at ‘middle management’ level who will be formally developed for their succession potential during 2017. Our progress against these targets will be publically reported on a regular basis.

Direct Line Group’s commitment to the Women in Finance Charter is a continuation of the organisations focus over recent years to increase gender parity at senior levels. Paul Geddes outlines just one of the ways in which this has been achieved. “When hiring at more senior levels, we have repeatedly sent back all-male candidate lists from headhunters and asked them to try harder. In most cases they have then gone on to find outstanding female candidates, whom we have ended up hiring on their merits.”

As a key brand within Direct Line Group, NIG has likewise been focussed on increasing gender parity at senior levels. NIG is also committed to following the recommendations laid out by the Women in Finance Charter, whilst working towards the targets announced by Paul Geddes and the Group in October 2016.

Neil Manser, Managing Director of NIG commented:

We at NIG are very proud that Direct Line Group was one of the initial signatories of the HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter. This charter reflects our long term desire to create and nurture a diverse and inclusive workforce, and also our commitment to tackling the issue of female under-representation within financial services, especially in senior management positions.

NIG already has a strong track record in recent years of promoting gender diversity across the business, particularly within senior management positions. However, there is still much more to do. The group-wide targets announced by Paul Geddes in October 2016 provide a clear goal for us to aim for, and hopefully surpass, as we continue to increase diversity across our workforce.”