‘Set clear targets for numbers of senior females’

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The mortgage industry has been urged to set clear targets for better female representation in senior roles.

The issue is soon to receive greater public attention because, in 2016, the Government will introduce new requirements for all companies with 250 or more employees to publish details of the average salaries of male and female staff, in a bid to address the gender pay gap.

Speaking to Mortgage Strategy, Women on Boards managing director Fiona Hathorn says that banks like Barclays, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland have already set targets for improving their diversity and recruitment practices to ensure more women get to the top. She urges other businesses to follow suit.

However, Hathorn is keen to stress the difference between tar-gets and quotas. She says: “People often talk about quotas as opposed to targets. Targets are just good business management. We have targets for loans, targets for finance, targets for paper clip consumption. Anybody who doesn’t have a target for talent management, I would question why.

“Data, transparency and targets are the only thing that works.”

Three out of 16 positions on the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries board are held by women, but chief executive Robert Sinclair says it is something that the trade body is “working on”.

He adds: “I’d welcome contributing to an industry event on the barriers and limitations that women are facing and what we can do to change those. I was at a BDM meeting recently and it was around 50/50 men and women, but typically the management in big companies are all male. Clearly we should all do more as the numbers are all wrong.”

TenetLime managing director Gemma Harle tells Mortgage Strategy: “We should be doing more. It would be good to have engagement across the trade bodies, whether it’s an event, a debate, research, support or mentoring. We also need to look at diversity in our industry in general, which goes beyond issues of gender, and consider whether we are good enough.

“And we need to look at diversity in smaller firms as well as on the boards of large companies.”

Two members out of 20 on the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ executive board are women. Asked whether the CML would be willing to be involved in organising a conference on the issue of women in the industry, CML head of member and external relations Sue Anderson says: “We would have to think about it. It is not something generally speaking that people look to the CML to do.

“Like all industries, the mortgage industry can only benefit from being open to the benefits of diversity in all its forms, at all levels. We would strongly support that objective.”