The event began with opening remarks from chief executive of the London Stock Exchange Group, Xavier Rolet who was delighted at the ‘traction’ which the initiative was gaining and strongly advocated that including diversity in organisations improves businesses.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby MP spoke next, stating that the under representation of women was a problem for everyone, not just women.
Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money and Women in Finance champion, shared her experiences as a woman at the top of a financial organisation. She said she would describe herself as an “equalist not a feminist” adding “we must force a change in behaviour or we will never get one.”
Signatory firms then met and networked with young women who were interested in a career in financial services. These women will be progressing through the financial services sector over the coming years.
Women Ahead facilitated the event and ran the short-speed mentoring briefing for mentees and signatories (mentors). This was presented by Maggie Alphonsi MBE the former England rugby international.
The mentoring event was followed by a discussion with other Charter signatories allowing the room to discuss and share what had worked well for their organisations so far, what had been a challenge and what the next steps would be to fulfil the Charter commitments. We were also given the opportunity to discuss with fellow signatories early analysis from New Financial, a think-tank which looked at the Charter submissions sent to the Treasury in September.
I feel inspired to encourage other organisations within our sector to embrace this charter and address the current gender inequality across financial services. Change can only come about when both men and women work together to alter attitudes and challenge imbalance. I believe that strength lies in difference and that organisations can indeed expect to be better if they embrace diversity.