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50/50 by 2020: Closing the gender gap.

30 January, 2017

By Sarah Totham, Director of Talent and Organisational Development, Legal & General

Difference adds value: whether it’s coming up with a different way of looking at the world or the willingness to call out when something doesn’t look right or fair.

Innovation and strong governance are key ingredients to the success of our business.  And that’s the real value of diversity. We don’t just get the same voices around the table. We value everyone’s point of view and are open to new perspectives.  We encourage a disruptive mind-set, a positive one, of course. It’s what helps us to be thought leaders rather than followers.

As part of our drive to achieve a truly inclusive culture, we’re passionate about increasing the number of women in leadership positions, contributing to the growth and success of our company.  We have hugely ambitious targets, having set ourselves the goal of reaching gender parity in our leadership population - 50/50 by 2020.

Passion from the top

From the earliest conversations around this subject, Nigel Wilson our CEO has been the strongest sponsor.  His five daughters are clearly a personal motivator but he’s genuinely concerned about the impact on society as well as the success of our business.

We’re seeing real progress:

  • Female NEDs have been appointed as board committee heads
  • Two of our six MDs who run our business are women
  • And we have some amazing role models across our business

Cheryl Agius (left) MD, General Insurance

Julia Wilson, (left) Senior Independent Non-Executive Officer

Jackie Noakes (left) MD, Savings

Mark Zinkula, Chief Executive Officer of Legal & General Investment Management, has also led from the front by transforming what was a very male dominated culture, in a very male dominated industry. Three highly-thought-of women now lead his distribution team, with more exciting appointments continuing from both internal and external talent.

More broadly, our leadership teams are enthusiastic about taking on the challenge. They’ve developed tangible action plans to tackle the barriers and bias that may be inhibiting women, (and some men) from fulfilling their potential.

Paul Stanworth, Chief Executive of Legal & General Capital, heads up our diversity and inclusion strategy with passion and integrity, so that we can really challenge our culture and set ourselves the highest standards.

How do we measure up?

I recently took part in round table discussions which contributed to the Hampton Alexander Review. The focus is now shifting from board level to key business executives and we’re focusing on feeding the pipeline to support these key roles.  The report highlighted that we’re already achieving their recommended target of 30%. And our data on management succession makes us even more optimistic as it shows that more than 50% of potential successors for significant roles are women.

Earlier this year we were one of the first companies to sign the ‘Women in Finance Charter’.  This formalised a lot of the best practice approach that we had already adopted and gives rigour and focus to our approach. 

We also actively support Helena Morrissey’s Diversity Project which helps broaden our diversity agenda as well as giving us opportunity to collaborate across our sector.  There’s such opportunity to improve the brand of Financial Services as an attractive career choice. We’ve a great story to sell in terms of our positive impact on the lives of our customers and society in the longer term.  Really selling this will help to increase the diversity of the talent that we can attract at early career and from different sectors.

The 2017 Women in Finance summit

The gender pay differential

We’ve been reporting on gender diversity and our gender pay differential every year since 2014. We are passionate about the need for transparency in this area and we are delighted that the gap is narrowing across our grades. In one of our most senior grades, women were paid a higher average than men for the first time in 2016. We are proud of this shift whilst always looking to be fair and transparent across all of our population.

Our gender pay gap is in line with the industry average for financial services and we know we have a lot more work to do to close it. 

What are we doing?

At the Women in Finance Summit on Tuesday 24 January, there was a lot of frustration in the perceived gap between aspiration at a senior level in financial services and the reality of the figures.  Passion and aspiration are hugely important drivers but we also need to persevere at the coal face. We currently focus on five areas:

  1. Our culture;  being absolutely clear that inclusion and collaboration are a core part of who we are as a business and people will be measured against this.
  2. Our recruitment; reducing the bias in our process through training of our recruiting managers, with one woman on every short list and diverse interview panels.
  3. Our people; inclusive network events to inspire, encourage debate and change mind-sets and behaviours.
  4. Our high potential women; offering great development opportunities through career sponsorship, mentoring and talent moves across our business.

A great place to work – for everyone

This is all about making Legal & General an even better place to work. Everyone in our business has a stake in this. It’s about valuing and harnessing all of our talents. I’m excited about the opportunity that lies ahead.


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