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News Story:

Diversity solutions


Diversity solutions Tried and tested diversity solution for UK companies

As City regulators focus on increasing senior-level diversity in UK companies – with the proposed introduction of targets for the number of senior women on boards – the Financial & Legal Skills Partnership is already enabling the most recent cohort of women to develop their personal leadership strengths.

The Prudential Regulation Authority recently proposed changes to its rules, which are relevant to banks, building societies and PRA-designated investment firms. The proposed changes, introduced in its Consultation Paper released on August 12th, include a policy promoting diversity, and a target for gender representation, on the management body.

At this crucial time, the Financial & Legal Skills Partnership is again offering its ‘Through the Glass Ceiling’ programme for senior women, with the first programme starting in October, and the second in January 2014. By nominating senior women to enrol in the programme, which was founded in 2009, firms are showing the regulator their commitment to increasing diversity.

Liz Field, CEO of Financial & Legal Skills Partnership says, "The Prudential Regulation Authority’s proposals for improving diversity at management level, and possibly creating quotas for gender representation, does represent change. However, initiatives such as the ‘Through the Glass Ceiling’ programme enable sector companies to lay the groundwork for diverse corporate leadership, which will provide increased innovation, better governance and enhanced public confidence.”

Designed specifically for women managers looking to develop their personal leadership capability in order to ‘move up the ladder’, the ‘Through the Glass Ceiling’ programme offers five one-day workshops. Key themes include developing confidence and credibility, influencing others, team work, and powerful presentation skills.

Leading firms already participating in the programme include Aviva, HSBC, Santander and Sesame Bankhall.

Liz Field adds, "More than ever, it is critical that companies have a strong diversity policy. Employers increasingly recognise that providing senior-level women with access to solid career pathways to executive and boardroom levels will ensure competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

Indeed, as one senior-level woman who participated in the programme commented, "Everybody is very different, but everybody has got some strengths. Unless we give people the opportunity to shine through and to really show what they're capable of, we could be missing some great opportunities for business, whatever organisation you're in."

The 'Through the Glass Ceiling' initiative is also designed to encourage participation across the sectors. In addition to benefiting from the programme’s formal elements, previous participants have remarked on the programme’s welcome opportunities to network with women in similar senior-level positions: "One huge benefit is to know that other people think similar things, experience similar things, deal with them in similar ways – and different ways – and to learn from all of that."

Liz Field says, "Senior-level women can be in a minority in a firm, so the chance to share their experiences, learn from their peers, and develop a power network of their own is incredibly empowering. This is in addition to the formal cutting-edge methodologies and ideas they find in the 'Through The Glass Ceiling' one-day workshops.”

The next opportunity for companies to enroll senior-level women will be for the October programme start. The second programme will start in January 2014, with exact dates to be confirmed.

Liz Field concludes, "Companies taking voluntary steps now to ensure that diversity is an integral and essential element in their corporate structure are already seeing the added value at all levels, including the boardroom. By attracting new talent and next-generation women into the business, those companies will also develop a pipeline for future growth, and ensure a competitive edge in the global economy.”

The Financial & Legal Skills Partnership is an industry partnership and also a UK Government-licensed skills organisation that works across the UK’s financial and legal services, finance and accountancy sectors.