Originally published in BSA Society Matters magazine
By Tracey Johnson, HR Director, Leek United Building Society
Leek United is one of the latest building societies to sign up for the Women in Finance Charter. Here, the society shares what influenced its decision and why now is the right time.
As businesses and governments across the world look to plan their route back from the coronavirus pandemic, there is a growing appetite to build back better – and particularly, to focus on diversity and inclusion. The acceptance and reset of flexible working during the pandemic has meant that the sector is rethinking its approach in an area which has historically been a barrier to diversity.
While most businesses are committed to ensuring they are equal opportunities employers and have policies in place, there is a real sense that now is the time to turn attitudes into actions.
At Leek United Building Society, as an important step towards meeting our gender diversity aspirations, we are proud to have signed up to the HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter.
In June 2020, Leek United Building Society joined nearly 500 people on the virtual launch of the third HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter Annual Review. The success of the Charter since its launch in March 2016 has had a much bigger impact than originally thought possible, with a third of signatories having met or exceeded their targets for female representation in senior management already.
The Women in Finance Charter is a pledge for gender balance across financial services. Signing up to it is a commitment to work together, across the industry and with Government, to build a more balanced and fair financial services industry.
Our society signed the Charter, making a clear commitment to improve diversity, to ensure that women are able to progress into senior levels, to set targets to support this work and to regularly report on our progress. Not only is it important to improve the gender balance, but in addition, through the Charter framework, existing and proposed activities can be designed to support BAME targets.
On 23 June 2020, Leek United Building Society became an official signatory to the Charter, committing to:
- Having a designated member of the senior executive team responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion. This is our CEO, Andrew Healy;
- Setting internal targets for gender diversity in the Board of Directors and Senior Management. We have stated our commitment to achieve, and maintain, a minimum of 33% Board and 38% Senior Management representation of females by 2023;
- Publishing progress annually against these targets on the society’s website, supporting the transparency and accountability needed to drive change
A spokesperson for Leek United Building Society comments: “Committing to the Women in Finance Charter is just one of the many steps we’re taking
towards achieving our vision of creating a working environment that is diverse and inclusive. We want everyone who works for us to feel engaged, valued and respected and to experience that their potential is not in any way limited by their background, gender, age, race, disability or sexual identity. There is always more we can do – learning new things, developing and challenging the status quo”.
The society is also looking at other ways to positively promote diversity and inclusion, including Race at Work, Stonewall and Disability Confident.