The future of women in finance

As with any internship or work experience I have been immersed in all aspects of UK Finance as an organisation and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had within the few months I?ve been here. The position has led me to consider financial services more broadly and how it reflects modern society. One of the most striking points I have realised is how gender has, for years, been shaping how our organisations look, think and feel.

Financial services has, like all other industries, faced challenges in ensuring it has a diverse workforce. In the past ten years the gears have been tuned to consider reforms that would ensure institutions reflect the societies they thrive in. In the UK, for example, there are 33,270,380 women to 32,377,674 men. A figure in favour of women, but one that isn't quite reflected in the world of corporations, in my view - especially at a senior level.

Despite this imbalance, I do feel that I am beginning my career journey with the spotlight directly on businesses, encouraging change to ensure they actively meet representative targets. My generation today face a number of challenges in achieving their career goals - from university submissions, to internships and preparing for job interviews. With the usual array of hurdles, it seems unfair to add gender as another barrier.

Personally, I feel the real challenge is generational, and therefore it's important that from a young age all of us are encouraged to aspire to a variety of careers and to look beyond the historical perspective of ?female? and ?male? job roles. The more we encourage our minds to be diverse, the more opportunities will follow. I also encourage the financial services sector to continue to drive change and be a model industry for both gender equality and pay equality.

As a relatively new organisation, UK Finance made it one of its first actions to sign the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter. The Charter objectives and related diversity and inclusion initiatives are reflective of employment practices that should define a well-run company in modern Britain - and the recognition of the responsibilities to that Charter is evident in the way UK Finance operates. I am fortunate to be surrounded by women in senior roles, who I have the pleasure of working with and getting advice from. It is both encouraging and inspiring to see women taking control of their careers and having a significant presence within the organisation.

These values can also be attributed to many of UK Finance's members, who are also Charter signatories. It is, again, inspiring to see many women holding executive roles in our members? offices and to witness them championing the Charter in the way they approach the direction of their respective businesses. Indeed, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money and a member of our Board, was the person asked by the government to lead a review into the representation of women in senior management in financial services. This review led to the creation of the Charter in 2016, and Jayne-Anne has continued to be proactive in furthering the conversation.

Experiencing these commitments first-hand has positively impacted on my time as an intern. It has been inspiring to be part of an organisation that is so integral to not only contributing to the bigger picture of financial services and public policy but one which, along with its members, continues to address the imbalance of gender equality in financial services.

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