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Jon Kennard


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Insight: Leadership pipeline key for diversity and growth


A proposal to promote diversity at senior management level in the financial services sector needs to be backed up with a future leadership pipeline offering training and a platform for new groups of women to develop and flourish, according to Liz Field, CEO of Financial & Legal Skills Partnership (FLSP).

She says, “The Prudential Regulation Authority’s proposal for a policy improving diversity at management level, and creating a target for gender representation, does represent change. However, firms must also be encouraged to create opportunities and initiatives that enable women to excel at executive and boardroom level. By doing so, companies can ensure a pipeline to drive economic growth in the UK.”

In its Consultation Paper, released on August 12th, The Prudential Regulation Authority proposed changes to its rules, which are relevant to banks, building societies and PRA-designated investment firms. The proposed changes include a policy promoting diversity, and a target for gender representation, on the management body. 

Liz Field said, “Enabling diversity at the boardroom level is only the tip of the iceberg.  It is critical that companies create a more robust culture that enables women to follow solid pathways and develop their personal leadership capabilities as they move up the career ladder.”

Speaking about the new Leadership 21C initiatives from Financial and Legal Skills Partnership, which are designed to encourage participation across the sectors, Field added, “Employers within the financial services industry are already actively looking at improving diversity at the management level. They recognise it is an essential development to ensure competitiveness in the global marketplace.” 

The Industry-driven Leadership 21C programme was showcased at the House of Commons in July. Initiatives include Changing The Landscape At Board Level and Through The Glass Ceiling programmes. The former is a unique development programme for women near or at board level, while the latter is designed specifically as training for senior women managers.

The programme was developed with the support and involvement of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and British Bankers’ Association (BBA), the regulators - the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), major employers, professional services firms, and public service bodies.

Liz Field said, “Companies that offer encouragement and clear career paths will be ensuring solid pipelines of future talent. The five one-day workshops in Through The Glass Ceiling use cutting-edge methodologies and ideas to develop women leaders. These new strategies are based on core values such as transparency, accountability, responsibility and ethics, and are starting to create solid foundations for the companies that have implemented them.”

Leadership 21C programmes’ three key elements also include statements of board leadership and behaviour, a Board Effectiveness toolkit, and a sector-focused Good Practice Guide to improve Board Diversity. The last element has some focus on gender diversity, and specific solutions to help women overcome barriers to progress and appointment to the board. In addition to the programme, FLSP will be meeting with employers in the Autumn to see how the issue of the pipeline of diversity can be addressed and discuss practical steps the industry can take.

Field concluded, “Long-term business growth and success needs increased diversity, solid career pathways, and good practice at executive and boardroom levels. As the marketplace become more diverse, we must ensure that our most valuable resource, which is our people, also reflects that diversity.”

The Financial & Legal Skills Partnership is an industry partnership and also a UK Government-licensed skills organisation that works across the UK’s financial and legal services, finance and accountancy sectors.

Author Profile Picture
Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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