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We like it when people do things without being asked.  HSBC has started down this route…

We like it when people do things without being asked.  HSBC has started down this route…

Mark.Freed / 05 Jul 2018

We like it when people do things without being asked.  HSBC has started down this route – can it continue and make a difference? 

Submitting to peer pressure – why it’s good for the financial services’ sector

I think it’s fair to say that we all appreciate it when people do things for us without being asked – they demonstrate that they’re thinking ahead and in some cases, being empathetic: when a child tidies their room without being asked; when a restaurant has water on the table as soon as you sit down (and then refill it surreptitiously); when financial institutions embrace gender diversity without government intervention.

HSBC looks like one of these institutions.  It filed its Gender Pay Gap figures for 2018 at the same time as those for 2017 – very few employers that met the Gender Pay Gap reporting criteria did this and HSBC should be commended for being up front about the state of play within their organisation when it comes to gender diversity.

By reporting two years’ figures, HSBC has opened itself up to additional scrutiny, of course.  Comparing the two sets of figures, it’s easy to see, unfortunately, that nothing much has changed within the twelve months.   For example, HSBC reports on seven entities and all but two saw an increase in the gap for average hourly pay.  If we look at the percentage of women in the top quartile of earners, between 2017 and 2018, five entities saw a percentage decrease.

These figures make me stop and think.  HSBC is a signatory to the Women in Finance charter and they’re leading the pack on Gender Pay Gap reporting by reporting two years’ figures: they understand that the subject of gender diversity isn’t going away and if anything it’s gathering momentum.  Why then has nothing changed in twelve months?

Naturally, there may be many factors at play here – setting targets, implementing new strategies and building their talent pipelines, for example.  But one thing we at E2W encounter again and again, is stagnant recruitment practices, practices that just aren’t changing despite the wind of change, government and societal pressure.  

I know we say it a lot but, “If you carry on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got.”  Recruitment practices need to change in order to source more women for senior roles – the sector can’t just pay this subject lip service; they really need to put their money where their mouth is.

We have outlined how to approach recruiting women in our guide on gender diversity specific recruitment strategies, but at a high level:

  • Recruitment teams need to first appreciate that men and women are different!  I know it sounds obvious but it’s very important when it comes to hiring, the process involved and simply understanding how women approach their careers compared to men.
  • Adapt your recruitment strategies accordingly – set targets and then implement procedures to help hiring teams achieve them.  
  • Craft a positive recruitment experience for women – think about who the interviewers are and avoid all male panels, for example.
  • And, of course, think about your recruitment partners – can they tap into the right talent pool? 

We must applaud HSBC for having their facts and figures together a year early – we like it when people do things without being asked.  But now we’d like to see them and their peers actually make some changes to their recruitment practices and ultimately their gender mix at senior levels and throughout their organisations.  

If you or your organisation would like to learn more about how E2W can help attract senior women into roles, please contact us.  

Mark Freed is CEO of E2W, the company that he set up with Tina twenty years ago to address the issue of gender diversity.  He is passionate about gender parity and encourages more men to join the campaign.  


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