Banking & Finance And The Role Of Women Leaders

We are experiencing very interesting times, certainly politically but also in the advancement of women. I have just witnessed the appointment of Theresa May as the second female Prime Minister of this country. Coincidently, during the early part of my career I worked under the leadership of the first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. I take this appointment as a sign of encouragement for all of us who passionately believe in the power and benefits of women’s equality in all sectors.


Earlier this year, the Treasury sponsored a review of the finance industry, undertaken by the CEO of Virgin Money, Jayne-Anne Gadhia. The finance industry employs more women than men, but in comparison to other sectors retains the largest pay gap between the genders. In 2015, only 14% of the membership of Executive Committees in the finance sector were women.

To many of us working in banking and finance these findings are what we have suspected but could not quantify. The sector drives the UK’s economic output and the OECD estimates that equalising men and women’s roles in the workplace could add 10% to the size of the UK economy by 2030.

To me, what is exciting and bold in the Treasury review, is the Women in Finance Charter, where the Treasury and signatory firms commit to work together to build a more balanced and fair industry. It is a public declaration of those firms’ belief in the women who work for them and a belief in all the women working within the industry. Firms that sign up to this Charter are pledging to be the best businesses in the sector. As the review says, “what gets measured gets done” – and the financial sector knows all about the benefits of measuring and quantifying.


In this context, the opportunities for women whose firms have signed up to the Charter are manifold:

  1. Firms commit to supporting the progression of women into senior roles in the financial services sector by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level
  2. Gender diversity targets and strategies will be more visible within firms
  3. More opportunities for talented women to progress their careers will be created
  4. We will see the closing of the pay gap
  5. Firms will adopt more creative ways of working.


If the new Prime Minister pledges her support of the Charter, I see the headwinds against the advancement of women’s career progression in finance reducing. The main challenge may be for firms to provide the right level of support for women in influential and leadership roles. WIBF is well placed, with a powerful network, to support its members as the industry advances the gender balance agenda.

Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF) is one of the largest and most influential networking organisations for women working in the UK financial industry. Through a series of tailored self-development programmes, seminars, thought-leadership and networking events, WIBF equips its members with the tools, knowledge and skills to excel in their careers. Our individual members work in banking and related financial services; our corporate members are some of the largest global financial institutions.

We have more than 4000 LinkedIn members. Join Us – visit



Following this article DSW interviewed Nicky Murdoch, CEO of DMWS. Nicky talks about the business and career challenges she has faced and how she overcome these to be a successful leader. You can also view our previous article on women leaders featuring Joanne Mansell. Click on their pictures to read more.

nicky murdoch
Nicky Murdoch
Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS)


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Joanne Mansell
HR Director
Geoban UK, (part of the Santander Group)


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About Janet Thomas

Janet Thomas is the President of Women in Banking and Finance and CEO of TouchFX. Ms Thomas is an established investment banker who has developed award winning technological innovations for the banking industry at some of the World's leading financial institutions. She has an established track record of championing the advancement of women in the global financial industry.