Figures show women are better represented on UK banking boards

By Nicole Miskelly | 5 October 2015

A new report from financial services firm Astbury Marsden indicates that the share of female board members in Britain’s banks has risen by over 50 per cent from 2012 and women now make up almost one-third of board members in Britain’s biggest banks.

According to the report, UK banking boards, which were only made up of 19 per cent of women in 2012, are now made up of 31 per cent women, an increase of over half in three years, and although the figures show that the UK’s biggest banks are representing more women on their boards, this has not been reflected globally.

Figures show that British banks have seen faster growth of women on their banking boards than many of their global competitors such as China and the United States, which saw a decline in the number of women on their bank boards in the last three years. Adam Jackson, MD at Astbury Marsden says that now only 16 per cent of board members at China’s biggest banks are women. “China, a country which has previously performed highly on female board representation with women taking up 21% of banking directorship in 2012, has fallen behind.”

According to the report, Europe’s biggest banks have the highest proportion of women on their boards at 35 per cent, in comparison to the global average of 22 per cent, although the speed of growth has been slower than that shown on UK banking boards.

Astbury Marsden indicated that the rapid rise in the number of women on UK banking boards could be due to the targets Lord Davies set for FTSE 100 companies to make at least a quarter their boards female by 2015. “Huge efforts have been made within the banks to mentor female talent and make sure they’re making full use of executive training. It’s clear that in the UK these efforts are paying off,” said Jackson.

The report also shows that big global investment banks are noticeably falling behind commercial banks, with only 16 per cent of women being represented on these boards, which according to Astbury Marsden could be because women often find it easier to progress within retail and commercial banking, than they do investment banking.

The gender debate, a hot topic at Sibos this year, was also on the Sibos agenda in 2014 with figures showing a lack of women in leadership positions and board rooms with the financial industry. At Sibos this year, the debate focuses on how global FS companies can create and sustain a diverse talent pipeline. 

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