The boss of Lloyds Banking Group will this week embark upon his own attempt to repair the reputation of Britain's battered banks by pledging to lend more to households and small businesses as well bolstering the number of women at senior level.
António Horta-Osório will set a target of 40% of the top 5,000 roles at the bailed-out bank to be held by women by 2020 – from 28% now – in a move welcomed by campaigners, who said it was the first such goal set by a FTSE-100 company.
Under fire from the business secretary, Vince Cable, for making half its small business experts redundant, the chief executive of the bank, which is 33% owned by the taxpayer, will also set out goals to lend £1bn more to small businesses this year in an attempt to demonstrate his commitment to the politically sensitive issue.
Horta-Osório will use two speeches this week to also promise to help 80,000 first-time buyers into the housing market, just a fortnight before the bank's results are expected to clear the way for the government to sell off the remaining stake.
"The reputational impact of the financial crisis upon the banking industry's stature has been immense," he will say. "Rebuilding a sound reputation founded on the highest standards of responsible behaviour is key to the industry's long-term success.
"But words alone are not enough to change public perception and regain trust. We must be able to provide meaningful commitments and allow ourselves to be independently measured against those," he says, dubbing his plan for "helping Britain prosper" – a slogan used by the bank for the last 18 months.
Antony Jenkins, the boss of Barclays, indicated in December that he was also planning to make a series of pledges about the bank's behaviour.
Lloyds was fined £28m in December because of a bonus scheme that encouraged staff to sell products to customers who did not need them and Andrew Tyrie, the MP who chairs the Treasury select committee, has written on Monday to the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, Martin Wheatley, to call for industry-wide changes to the bonus culture.
Ahead of Wheatley's appearance before the committee on Tuesday, Tyrie said: "Incentives have been deeply misaligned for significant numbers of frontline staff, not just highly remunerated traders or the most senior executives. Deep cultural change is needed.".
The bank's pledge on top roles for women prompted Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton fund managers and a campaigner for more women in boardrooms through the 30% Club, to call for other companies to follow suit.
"The 30% Club experience shows how a numeric, measurable goal can provide a useful focal point and it is exciting that Lloyds has decided to take a similar step – the first we are aware of from any FTSE-100 company – to accelerate progress. We look forward to seeing the results – and which company is next," she said.
By 2015 Britain's biggest firms need to ensure 25% of the roles are held by women if they are to meet the targets set by Lord Davies – the former boss of Standard Chartered – to promote women into top jobs.
Lloyds said it would also donate £100m to its charitable foundations and said more information would be released when it published its annual report on 6 March.
The goal to help first-time buyers is greater than the one set for 2013 when it said loans would granted to 60,000 people buying property for the first time. For small businesses, the bank had pledged to keep lending positive last year.
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