Frustrated that so few of HSBC’s UK managers are female? So is HSBC

Wanted: More female high-flyers.
Wanted: More female high-flyers.
Image: Reuters/Toby Melville
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British banking, once as big a boys’ club as any industry, is making what looks like a genuine attempt to change.

The latest is an announcement by HSBC that its UK banking operation will try to fill half of all new senior management roles with female candidates. At the moment, 54% of the bank’s total UK workforce is female, but more than two-thirds of its senior managers are male.

HSBC follows Lloyds Bank, which in 2014 set itself a target have women in 40% of its 5,000 roles by 2020. To help it toward that end, it told recruiters in August that in selecting job candidates, it would only consider shortlists on which at least a third  of the candidates were female.

HSBC said in a statement today (Nov. 25) that its own goals could be furthered by its plans to create a new headquarters in Birmingham, in the middle of England, moving more than 1,000 head-office roles out of London by 2019 and “potentially creating vacancies where existing employees choose not to relocate.”

It will also require recruiters to provide it with gender-balanced shortlists of candidates, and will use a “name blind” process of assessing CVs without knowing the gender of the applicant.

“It’s completely unacceptable that in 2015, women are still significantly under represented at a senior management level across the financial services industry,” said Antonio Simoes, CEO of HSBC Bank plc, in the statement.

He also said that the drive to eliminate gender discrimination was linked to a policy of non-discrimination in other areas. “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,” he said.