Only when women can fulfil their true economic and political potential will Britain truly prosper - Lloyds Banking Group
Lloyds Banking Group's Fiona Cannon writes about gender equality, an issue the company takes incredibly seriously. Lloyds Banking Group sponsors today's House magazine event 'Deeds Not Words – How To Reach a 50/50 Parliament’.
Today, Lloyds Banking Group is sponsoring The House magazine’s timely panel discussion and reception; ‘Deeds Not Words – How To Reach a 50/50 Parliament’. We are proud to be supporting this event as gender equality – in all walks of life - is an issue we take incredibly seriously.
The politicians who will be leading today’s discussion are inspirational role models. If young women can see people like Jess Phillips and Rachel MacLean succeeding in Parliament, it helps empower them to challenge and flourish in their own careers.
But while today’s focus is on the Palace of Westminster, I am keenly aware that the business world – and the financial services sector in particular – also needs to raise its game. We are making progress, but frankly, the rate of progress is too slow.
At Lloyds Banking Group, we are proud to be the first FTSE 100 organisation committed to having 40 per cent of its senior roles filled by women by 2020. Currently the figure is 34 per cent and our target is to increase that to 36 per cent by the end of this year.
In line with the Government’s legislation requiring all employers with more than 250 staff to disclose their gender pay gap, we recently announced that our gap is 32.8 per cent. That will change as we improve the gender balance at a senior level, but clearly we have more work to do.
Incidentally, we have also recently committed to having 10 per cent of all colleagues and eight per cent of senior management drawn from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities by 2020.
Again, that target is a first for a FTSE 100 company, but we make these commitments not only because they are the right thing to do, but also because they make sound business sense. We want our workforce to reflect the diverse customers and communities we serve. And we know that companies with diverse senior management teams perform better and make more balanced decisions.
However, this is an issue which goes way beyond one company. It is something which affects us all. At Lloyds Banking Group, our core purpose is to help Britain prosper, not just financially, but as a society too. That means setting ambitious targets, for example, to train almost two million individuals, businesses and charities in digital skills by 2020, to support 7,500 small charities over the same period and to lend a further £30bn to help people buy their first home.
We can also use our size and scale to encourage, demonstrate and support best practice on diversity in collaboration with our customers, clients, suppliers and stakeholders.
One example is the Women in the Real Economy mentoring scheme, a unique programme run by Lloyds Banking Group, in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women in Parliament. Senior female leaders from Lloyds are pairing with MPs to provide mentoring support to female constituents from less advantaged backgrounds; helping them fulfil their true potential.
As we approach International Women’s Day and reflect on the sacrifices of the Suffragettes on the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, it is worth thinking about the difference politics can make – especially when it speaks with a female voice. Because only when women can fulfil their true economic – and political – potential will Britain truly prosper.