Employment news

Treasury Committee report seeks fundamental cultural change in financial services

The Parliamentary Treasury Committee has published a report into how the Financial Services sector works for women. The inquiry was launched to measure how much financial services has changed since 2018 when a previous Treasury committee highlighted a range of barriers faced by women.

The Committee’s conclusion is that there has been a disappointing lack of progress in the sector with many companies still treating diversity and inclusion as a ‘tick box’ exercise. The message is there needs to be a fundamental culture change.

The report says there has been a disappointing lack of progress on sexual harassment and bullying, including serious sexual misconduct. Despite the best efforts of some far too little progress has been made and serious problems which should have been rooted out still persist. Significant concern remains, however, about the overall culture prevalent within the sector that holds back progress for women. While this Report deals with various challenges experienced by women in financial services, whether related to pay, harassment or maternity leave, as examples, it is this cultural deficit that allows them all to persist. Culture is also the most difficult area to seek to reform”. 

The inquiry found there has very little improvement in the number of women holding senior roles and a small reduction in the gender pay gap. Financial services still has the largest disparity in pay of any sector in the UK.

The Committee has made a number of recommendations including banning prospective employers asking for salary history; making it a legal requirement to include salary bands on job adverts; reducing the size threshold for gender pay gap reporting from 250+ to 50+ employees for firms in this sector; and ensuring that businesses with wide gender pay gaps having to explain the disparity and publish an action plan.

The Financial Conduct Authority which regulates the financial services industry welcomed the Committee’s report agreed it had an important role to play in making changes.