Bank of England’s FPC member reveals hopes for future female Governor

A member of the Bank of England’s financial policy committee has revealed hopes for a female Governor in her lifetime, but insisted the 325-year-old institution is making inroads on diversity.

Elisabeth Stheeman – a former investment banker at Morgan Stanley, who was appointed to the financial policy committee (FPC) two years ago – said there has been some progress in increasing female representation at the Bank, though she stressed there is “more work to do”.

She was the sole female member of the 13-strong financial policy committee (FPC) – which monitors the stability of Britain’s financial system – when she first took on the post in 2018.

She has since been joined on the committee by Dame Colette Bowe.

Ms Stheeman stresses that the proportion of women in senior management roles at the Bank has almost doubled to 30.4% from 17% seven years ago.

But still with an all-male line-up at the very top, led by outgoing Governor Mark Carney and current Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chief Andrew Bailey soon to replace him at the helm, she admits there is “further to go”.

“I would be delighted if sometime in my lifetime there might be a female governor,” she told the PA news agency.

Her comments come on International Women’s Day – an annual worldwide event on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements and call for more gender equality.

She said it was “encouraging” to see increased female representation in the City – given the recent success of the government-backed target for a third of all FTSE 100 board positions to be held by women, which was reached earlier than expected.

This compares with just 12.5% of boardroom positions that were filled by women 10 years ago and comes after the Hampton-Alexander Review called for a third of boards to be made up of women by the end of 2020.

Elisabeth Stheeman
Elisabeth Stheeman is an external member of the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee (Bank of England/PA)

Despite this, there is criticism that there is still not enough women in senior leadership roles, with just 5% of FTSE 100 firms employing female chief executives and only 7% having chairwomen.

“There’s been quite significant progress, but there’s more work to do particularly on the chair side and the executive pipeline,” said Ms Stheeman.

“The work isn’t done,” she said.

Ms Stheeman – whose husband is Sir Robert Stheeman, head of the Debt Management Office – herself battled to overcome sexism early in her career when juggling being a mother and working in an investment bank.

When requesting flexible working, she said she was told by a senior manager that “I don’t think it will work but I can’t stop you”.

“I’m pleased to say I did it anyway,” she said, adding that she worked in an alternative arrangement for 10 years before going back to full-time work.

Ms Stheeman – a mother-of-four boys, who are now in their 20s – worked at Morgan Stanley for more than two decades, then joined LaSalle Investment Management where she was global chief operating officer between 2013 and 2014.

She is also a member of the London School of Economics council and court of governors and has been an external member of the Bank of England’s Financial Market Infrastructure board since July 2017, having also previously served as a senior adviser to the Prudential Regulation Authority for three years.

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