There’s a lot of corporate lip service in the on-going discussion about addressing gender inequality in the workplace, but yesterday several financial firms added something rare to the conversation—cold, hard numbers.
The U.K. Treasury announced that of the 72 firms that have signed on to its charter to add more women to the finance sector, 60 have pledged to put women in at least 30% of their senior roles by 2021. Included in that figure are 13 organizations that are taking the vow even further, setting a goal of gender parity within five years.
The U.K. has honed in on the gender imbalance in finance in part because the industry has the nation’s worst gender pay gap: 40%—significantly wider than the 19% average. That disparity could be due to the dearth of women in the upper echelon of the profession; they make up about 23% of the sector’s corporate boards and 14% of its executive committees.
Self-imposed quotas—like state-mandated ones in places like Norway and France—are always a controversial approach to increasing gender diversity because they could lead to the hiring of token or under-qualified female candidates and don’t necessarily fix the processes that have led to such lopsidedness. Yet in these cases I’m always reminded of the adage that Brenda Trenowden, global chair of the 30% Club, once shared with me: “What gets measured gets managed.”