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No women, no bonus: British financial firms urged to come clean on lack of diversity

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Workers walk past clocks showing a time of 12 minutes past 12 noon, on this century's last sequential date, in a plaza in the Canary Wharf business district of London on Dec 12, 2012.

[LONDON] Bonuses paid to executives at financial services companies in Britain should depend on the number of women employed in senior roles at the company, a government report into women in finance will say on Wednesday.

Financial services firms should also report their gender diversity figures publicly to tackle the lack of women at the top of this industry, the review, led by Virgin Money's chief executive, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, will recommend.

The review is part of a government drive to increase economic productivity in Britain, which it says should include increasing female workforce representation.

According to an OECD estimate, labour market gender equality could increase British GDP by 10 per cent by 2030.

Ghadia's review recommends that remuneration packages be linked to a firm's gender balance, that companies appoint an executive responsible for gender, diversity and inclusion, and that companies report gender statistics publicly. "My report proposes addressing the issue in a way that the City will recognise. Make it public, measure it and report on it. What gets published gets done," Ms Gadhia said. "It should be a wake-up call to everyone in financial services that fewer women progress to senior levels than in any other industry in the UK," she said.

Britain's financial services industry contributed 127 billion pounds (S$273.4 billion) in gross value added to the British economy in 2014, government statistics show.

But women are sorely underrepresented in the sector.

Globally, only 13 per cent of executive committee members and 4 per cent of CEOs at 150 of the world's major financial institutions are women, a 2014 report by consultancy Oliver Wyman found.

In Britain, some progress has been made across industries as a whole over the past five years.

Women now account for 26 per cent of board positions in the FTSE 100, up from 12.5 per cent in 2010, another government-sponsored report, the Davies Review, found in October.

But more needs to be done and the Davies Review now wants women to hold a third of positions in FTSE350 boardrooms by 2020. "I know that there are a lot of brilliant, talented women out there whose skills would be an enormous asset to any firm," Economic Secretary to the Treasury Harriett Baldwin said ahead of a government summit on Wednesday when the report will be presented.

Gadhia's preliminary proposals will be available for public comment and a final report will be published before Britain's next annual budget in 2016.

REUTERS