At OSB Group we believe strongly in diversity and equality in our workforce. As such, in January 2017, we became a proud signatory of HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter; a voluntary commitment to work with the Government to build towards gender equality at all levels of our organisation.
By becoming a signatory of the Charter, we have pledged to be one of the best businesses in the sector in terms of gender equality.
The Women in Finance Charter was introduced as part of the Government’s aspiration to improve gender equality in the UK economy. As both the highest paid sector in the country and the sector in which the pay gap is the most stark, the financial services industry received its own review into the representation of women in senior management roles.
We're committed to increasing the representation of women undertaking senior positions within our organisation as we firmly believe that greater diversity strengthens the capabilities of our managers and positively impacts our employees.
As such, our target is that 33% of all senior management positions within OSB Group in the UK will be undertaken by female employees by the end of 2023.
When OSB first signed up to the Women in Finance Charter (WIFC) in January 2017, there were 16 female employees undertaking senior management positions out of a population of 67 (23.9%).
Following the combination with CCFS, and the associated doubling of our employee base, the Group’s initial WIFC target of ensuring that by the end of 2020, 30% of UK Senior Management positions were undertaken by women, became a single, group-wide target.
At the end of 2020, the Group published an increased target that by the end of 2023, 33% of UK Senior Management positions would be undertaken by female employees.
The Group saw significant progress throughout 2021, with the percentage of senior females reaching 34% during the middle of that year. Since that point, our percentage has reduced to 29.95%, with this being impacted by a small number of senior female employees leaving the Group, but primarily as a result of the majority of senior vacancies being filled with male employees, following the majority of our senior vacancies relating to specialist/technical roles where potential candidate bases have been overwhelmingly male dominant and within a challenging, candidate led external recruitment market.
Whilst the Group has and will continue to always make promotion or recruitment decisions based on performance, competence and expertise, we retain an ongoing requirement within our Recruitment and Selection Policy that for all senior management vacancies, at least one suitably qualified female candidate must be subject to face to face interview.
Our Policy also details that before an offer of employment can be progressed, any exceptions to this requirement require Executive approval and also details the need to have a senior female as part of the selection process for all senior recruitment processes in order to minimise any risk of potential unconscious bias and also to reflect a positive gender focussed culture to candidates being interviewed.
In recent months we have enhanced our focus in ensuring broader Committee and Executive awareness of our WIFC progress and will be applying a minimum timeframe for when exception requests can be raised in order to progress offers of employment when a suitably qualified female has not been interviewed for the position. The Group is also in the process of recruiting a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist, whose responsibilities will include the identification and implementation of activities to raise awareness of gender diversity, in turn supporting our ongoing commitment to the WIFC.
Whilst achieving our end of 2023 commitment presents the Group with a genuine challenge, we remain confident that our approach and level of focus are both appropriate and proportionate and will aid the Group in ultimately increasing the percentage of female employees undertaking senior positions.
Separately, and at a Board level, we’re proud to have strong female representation, where 4 of our 9 Board Members (44.4%) are female, as are 25% of our Group Executive Committee.