The bank will open a new head office for its high street operations in Birmingham by 2019, where it aims to achieve gender parity in the most senior of the approximately 550 roles by 2020.
HSBC has not previously set a timescale on the 50/50 target for its entire 37,000 UK high street banking workforce, where 29% of the 5,500 senior management roles are held by women.
As is the case with many banks, women make up more than half its entire UK workforce: 54% of employees are female. But this representation quickly slides away in senior management and HSBC intends to implement policies to address this. It will require an equal number of men and women on shortlists, support a return to the workplace for senior candidates and introduce name-blind CVs in an effort to end any discrimation.
The Lord Davies review of boardroom diversity helped fuel the debate about the lack of women in senior roles. In 2011, Davies – a former banker – set a goal for women to hold 25% of boardroom roles by 2015. In October, that goal was extended to at least a third of boardroom positions at the UK’s biggest companies being held by women by the end of the decade.
The government has also put a focus on the financial services industry and earlier this month, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the chief executive of Virgin Money, published her Treasury-commissioned review of the sector. She urged companies to set their own gender balance record, put senior individuals in charge of attaining the goals, and include the targets among those used to set bonuses.
HSBC has considered reintroducing the Midland brand for its UK arm, which is being relocated to Birmingham to comply with the new ringfencing rules that require banks to cushion their high street customers from their investment banking arms. Instead of putting Midland back on the high street, the UK arm will now be called HSBC UK.
Antonio Simoes, who runs HSBC’s UK arm, said: “It’s completely unacceptable that in 2015, women are still significantly underrepresented at a senior management level across the financial services industry. We are committed to putting that right at HSBC UK.
“Our ambition is to become the bank of choice in the UK. We have the opportunity to build a different type of bank through the creation of HSBC UK, which is more responsive to customer needs and fully reflects the diversity of society. Our aspiration is to achieve gender parity at all levels of the bank and to create a true meritocracy where everyone has the opportunity to develop their career, regardless of their background, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity or beliefs,” said Simoes.
Other banks have set aspirational goals for gender diversity. Royal Bank of Scotland, 74% state owned after being bailed out by the government following the 2008 financial crash, has set a target for women to hold one-third of its top 600 management roles by 2020.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 25th November 2015 12.10 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010