President’s Message - February 2022

WIBF President, Anna Lane addressed Race Equality Week and announces a partnership with the EY Foundation and the CBI on their Smart Futures Employability Programme

Last month saw the announcement of our change to a social enterprise and, with it, our commitment to maximise our social impact, align ourselves with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and play a leading role in supporting a sustainable finance industry.

This includes an extension of our mission to bring a gender lens to financial services, by considering intersectionality and a focus on social mobility – something which is virtually stagnant in the UK. This was noted in the Government’s Levelling Up strategy, launched last week: “whilst talent is spread equally across the country, opportunity is not”.

WIBF and other organisations across the country will unite in activity this week as part of Race Equality Week – a concerted focus to seriously address race in the workplace; this is particularly relevant in financial services where only 10% of employees are from an ethnic minority. We need to do far more as an industry to reflect the society that we serve, at all levels, and allow people to progress within financial services, regardless of background or where they are based in the UK.

Against this backdrop, we are delighted to announce that WIBF will partner with the EY Foundation and the Chartered Banker Institute (CBI) on their Smart Futures Employability Programme, which supports young people from low-income households to obtain paid work experience, employability skills training and career guidance. To address the fact that less than 10% of girls have ever considered a career in finance, we will tailor this programme to support cohorts of young women between the ages of 16 and 17, who are still in school, and 17 to 18-year-olds at risk of, or currently, ‘NEET’ i.e. no longer in the education system, nor working or being trained for work.

Our objective: get financial services as an industry onto girls’ radars and help make a career in finance more accessible, either immediately or post further education.

There are a variety of ways to offer support or get involved if you are interested in partnering with us on this exciting initiative – through funding, or volunteering as mentors, hosts and speakers. To give more detail than I am able to here, I want to invite you all to sign up to one of the three webinars we will be running with the EY Foundation on 22nd and 28th February.

Tuesday 22nd February, 12.30pm - Register here

Monday 28th February, 10.00am - Register here

Monday 28th February, 2.00pm - Register here

Further information will follow by email, both to our individual members, and separately, to those who have committed to change on behalf of their institutions – a communication that will be the first of a new monthly partner update.

At WIBF we challenge the industry to change outdated perceptions and remove existing barriers for women, together with galvanising our network to inspire change. Breaking down socio-economic and gender barriers is not simply a just cause; it is good business.

Through this partnership, WIBF and our members will be part of the movement to bring a generation of young women into the banking and finance sector who might otherwise have never opted for a career in our industry.

This year’s Race Equality Week theme is #ACTIONNOTJUSTWORDS. I don’t think I can top that to conclude this month’s message. Let’s rise to the challenge.