Virgin boss to lead gender diversity campaign as 22 new companies sign up

Updated: 

A drive to tackle gender inequality in the workplace has been backed by over 20 more companies as the Treasury appoints an official Women in Finance Champion.

Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia is taking on the role in order to push the Women in Finance Charter initiative.

Almost 100 financial services firms have signed up for the scheme which is aimed at improving gender diversity at senior levels.

The 22 new signatories include major organisations such as Zurich Insurance, Allied Irish Bank UK, the Financial Ombudsman Service and the trading arm of BP.

They employ more than 20,000 people in the UK and bring the total number of charter signatories to 93.

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said: "It is great news that almost 100 firms have signed the Women in Finance Charter and are now dedicating themselves to tackling gender inequality.

"But there is still further to go. The UK leads the world in financial services but it can be even better.

"I want to see a diverse sector run by talented women as well as men, to help secure Britain's place as a globally competitive economy. The business case is obvious and the best firms already get this.

"I urge more businesses to commit to the charter - to commit to building an economy that works for everyone."

The Chancellor said that the role of the Women in Finance Champion was important because achieving gender balance in the labour market could increase GDP by an estimated 10% by 2030.

Mr Hammond said: "I'm delighted that Jayne-Anne has agreed to become the government's Women in Finance Champion. Her in-depth knowledge of the industry and excellent reputation makes her the right person to drive forward the change that is needed in the industry."

Ms Gadhia said: "I am delighted to be appointed the government's Women in Finance Champion.

"We need to continue to manage the flow of female talent to leadership positions in financial services so that it properly reflects the diversity of our society."

"It is fantastic that 93 firms have now signed up to the Women in Finance Charter. Such widespread support of the charter will make a genuine difference to gender diversity and help to create a fair and balanced financial services sector.

"It is important to keep the momentum going and recognise the strong link between greater gender balance and improved productivity and performance."

A review by Ms Gadhia for the Treasury found that in UK financial services female representation is about 23% on boards and only 14% on executive committees.