Economic secretary to the Treasury and City minister John Glen has demanded a “real commitment to tangible action” from the financial services industry to improve the diversity of its population.
Glen added that he wants a clear plan for the process and was alarmed that only 13 signatories to the Women in Finance Charter currently collect data on socio-economic diversity.
Speaking at the City and Financial Global Women in Finance Summit, Glen said: “What I want to see from the financial services sector is real commitment to tangible action which will improve diversity of the sector, and a clear plan on how to get there.
“That can come in many forms.”
He noted that work was being undertaken by the Financial Services Skills Commission to understand how menopause transition affected women working in financial services and the female talent pipeline.
And he welcomed moves by the industry to think about the benefits of flexible and remote working for staff.
Glen said it was his hope that “financial services firms continue to reflect on how the pandemic has presented opportunities to think about different ways of doing things.”
He praised the work of the Women in Finance Charter which he noted was starting to produce results, but said there was still work to do on that and elsewhere.
“On socio-economic diversity too, we’re pushing hard,” Glen said.
“I want to see firms thinking about progression and how organisations can create that all-important pipeline of talent. There’s a role for the Women in Finance Charter signatories here too.
“This was the first year in which we asked them to share information on additional diversity data that they collect, but of the 209 reporting signatories, only 13 currently collect data on socio-economic diversity.
“The more data we have, the easier it will be to move in the right direction – so, please, do what you can.”
He concluded that the government is committed to getting this right, noting that he wants the industry’s future to be as diverse as possible.
“Even levelling-up – one of this government’s defining missions – is about ensuring that everyone everywhere has the opportunities they deserve,” he said.
“That applies just as much to diversity within financial services and I’m very hopeful that we’ll continue to make the progress that’s needed.”
Glen’s speech came in the same week that financial regulators began work to improve the industry, with a discussion document including plans to tie pay and fitness to practice tests on diversity and inclusivity outcomes.