1 year after its launch: what impact does the Women in Finance charter have?

24 September 2020 - 6 min Reading time

Thanks to Women in Finance, almost 60% of the signatories actively started working on an action plan on gender diversity:

  • A year ago, a large group of banks, insurers and other financial institutions signed a charter calling for more gender diversity in the financial sector.
  • The goal? Giving equal, fair opportunities to everyone who works in the financial sector: men and women.
  • To ensure that the charter does not remain a dead letter, Women in Finance was created. What started as a private initiative has grown into an association that includes all major financial institutions.
  • In its first year of operation, Women in Finance organized various activities: from workshops on writing inclusive job vacancies and measuring the gender pay gap to round table discussions on International Women's Day.
  • To measure progress, Women in Finance launched a survey among its members. The results were bundled in a report. This shows that:
    • 37 organizations have now signed the charter. Together they cover 90% of the employees in the sector.
    • 88% of those organizations have exposed the glass ceilings within their organization. This nicely exceeded the initial target of 75%.
    • 96% of members have implemented an action plan on gender diversity. This amply exceeded the target of 60%.
    • Women in Finance has a clear influence: 58% have started an action plan on gender diversity thanks to Women in Finance or have strengthened an existing plan.
    • The report can be seen as a baseline measurement: where are the signatories today, where do they want to go and how will they use the charter to achieve their objectives?
    • To monitor progress, Women in Finance has the ambition to publish such a report every year from now on.

How gender diverse is the financial sector today?


To answer this question, Women in Finance launched a survey among its members in April this year. The following conclusions emerged from the survey:


1) Almost the entire financial sector supports the principle of gender equality

  • 37 members, or 90% () of the organizations active in the financial sector (this figure is based on the number of employees working in the company), have signed the charter and are members of Women in Finance.
  • Each of those members undertakes to
    • Measure the glass ceilings in their organization;
    • Draw up an action plan to improve gender equality and inclusion within the organization and;
    • Share their progress with the Women in Finance community.
  • Almost the entire financial sector is therefore actively committed to better gender equality.

2) Glass ceilings still exist, but the increase in gender diversity continues

  • 88% of members have measured the glass ceilings within their organization.
  • Financial institutions distinguish on average at least two glass ceilings in their structure. For many, the first ceiling is already visible from middle management. The second from senior management (executives).
  • We have seen an improvement in gender equality within the financial sector for 25 years. Although women accounted for 47.9% of total recruitment last year, gender mix remains an important focus in the recruitment process. Especially with all the new digital and IT professions in mind.
  • In terms of promotions, we see that women today represent 41.7% of new appointments at management level.
  • Yet the presence of women in senior management positions remains low. Less than 30% of senior management positions are held by women today.
  • However, an important benchmark when you know that the benefits of gender diversity are greatest when you achieve a mix of at least 1/3rd.

3) Women in Finance has an impact

  • 58% stated that becoming a member of Women in Finance was equivalent to setting up or strengthening an action plan on gender diversity.
  • Other initiatives that members have worked on since joining Women in Finance include the
    • Promoting inclusive leadership for all executives;
    • Promoting an inclusive culture and;
    • Stimulating gender-neutral recruitment processes.

What challenges does Women in Finance see for the financial sector?


The challenges facing the financial sector are diverse:

  • It is important to identify the existing glass ceilings. Once that has happened, actions can be initiated to remove those ceilings. So we are well on our way there.
  • It is also essential to give female role models, with whom women can identify, more visibility within the organization.
  • It is important to eliminate the impact of unconscious biases, both in HR processes (recruitment, promotion, etc.) and in managers' decisions.
  • The entire financial sector also wants to work on an inclusive culture and on the prevention of sexism in the workplace. That is the key to not losing female talent.
"We are convinced that, in a rapidly changing world, the best decisions are made by diverse teams. The most attractive employers will therefore be the most inclusive."
Claire Godding, co-chair Women in Finance

In addition to the general report, Women in Finance also provides its members with a personal report, in which a lot of benchmarking and recommendations can be found. This allows the organizations to compare their performance with the average and to discover where they can improve themselves.