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President’s Message – December 2023

news published date 19 December 2023
  • News
In her final message of 2023, Anna Lane looks back on a year of innovation and inclusion.

Innovation and Inclusion: WIBF’s Journey Through 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, let’s pause and celebrate the incredible journey we’ve embarked on together at Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF). This year, each one of you has played a pivotal role in our pursuit of gender equality in the financial sector. We’ve witnessed a whirlwind of dynamic growth and impressive achievements, intertwined with challenges that have only strengthened our resolve.

Our 25th Annual Awards for Achievement marked a significant milestone, honouring the exceptional talent and innovation within the UK’s financial landscape. Our collaboration with the London School of Economics on the ACT Research project has yielded remarkable strides in embedding The GOOD FINANCE Framework into our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Our community has flourished, hosting an astounding 84 events and welcoming a surge in corporate partnerships, fortifying our commitment to advancing women in finance.

Despite these achievements, 2023 has also shone a light on the stark realities of gender disparity in the financial services sector. The gender pay gap persists, with women facing a median pay gap of 26.6%, far exceeding the national average. Female representation in fund management has effectively stalled, creeping up to 12% only 0.1% year-on-year growth. A clear indicator that the path to gender parity in senior roles is long and winding.

We’ve seen proactive steps from regulatory bodies like the FCA and PRA, proposing initiatives to weave diversity and inclusion into the fabric of financial services. The Women in Finance Charter reported encouraging progress, with 35% female representation in senior management among its signatories. However, the pace of change remains a concern for many.

The pandemic’s legacy of shifting half a million UK women from part-time to full-time work underlines the crucial need for flexible work arrangements. Yet, this transition is now at risk as firms reevaluate their flexible working policies. The success of the Flex Appeal campaign, led by the formidable Anna Whitehouse, has been a beacon of hope, advocating for adaptable work conditions.

A highlight of the year was the recognition of Claudia Goldin with the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics for her profound research on women in the labour market. Her work has been instrumental in understanding the historical and present challenges women face in achieving economic equality.

As we look forward to 2024, our mission to create a more equitable and inclusive financial industry continues with renewed vigour. Our heartfelt thanks go to our volunteers, whose dedication and hard work are the backbone of our achievements. We are immensely proud of what we have accomplished together and are inspired to forge ahead with our collective vision and resolve.

As we bid farewell to 2023, our thoughts extend beyond our immediate community to the broader global challenges we face. In these turbulent times, we stand in solidarity with women and families facing adversity, hoping for a safer and more peaceful 2024 for all. Here’s to a future where equality and empowerment are not just ideals, but realities for everyone.

Best wishes of the season,

Anna Lane

WIBF CEO & President