Funding Options’ 2021 Women in Finance Charter update

11 Oct 2021

In 2019, Funding Options signed the Women in Finance Charter as part of our commitment to creating an inclusive and equitable workplace. We were recently required to share an annual update on our progress in meeting our targets and objectives.

women in finance charter logo

A couple of years ago, we chose to accelerate our goal of achieving gender equality in our company by signing the Women in Finance Charter

We believe all organisations, including ours, have a responsibility to demonstrate how they’re working towards their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) goals. We want to help drive change in the finance sector as a whole, not just in our own company. 

Like India McWalters, Funding Options’ Operations & Platform - Project & Delivery Lead, we’re happy to see progress both within the sector and our own workplace: 

“Having worked in the commercial finance sector myself for around 8 years, I've seen the industry rapidly become more and more gender diversified year on year. 

Since we joined the Charter in 2019 I'm over the moon to have some seriously inspiring women join the Funding Options Leadership team. 

Courteney Way and Akruti Amin are just two fabulous women who have inspired plenty of us since joining. Being a veteran at FO, this is a breath of fresh air!”

Akruti and Taisa

Akruti and Taisa

Women in Finance Charter – where did it begin?

The Government launched the Women in Finance Charter after it commissioned Jayne-Anne Gadhia, former CEO of Virgin Money, to lead a review into the representation of women in senior managerial roles in the finance industry. 

Gadhia’s review revealed that in 2015, women made up just 14% of Executive Committees in the Financial Services sector. 

In July 2021,  the Government published its Women in Finance Charter Five Year Review

The good news is that the proportion of women has increased from 14% to 22% on executive committees across the UK finance sector, and from 23% to 32% on boards since 2016. Although progress has been made, the work of Charter is far from complete. 

Funding Options’ journey so far...

Last year, David Keene, the executive team member accountable for the Women in Finance Charter at Funding Options, left the company and our Chief People and Operations Officer, Zoe Cornish, has since taken over the responsibility, and is committed to ensuring we recruit more women into leadership roles. 

 Here’s what we’ve achieved so far:

1. Women in senior leadership

When we signed the Charter we set a target to have 40% senior female managers by December 2020. We define a senior manager as any individual within the business who has the job title and responsibilities of ‘Head of’, ‘Director’ or ‘Chief’ (C-Suite).

We’re pleased to say that by the end of 2020, we’d surpassed our target. 44.5% of our total senior managers were female in December. 

Unfortunately, this year we’re just shy of our target. 31% of our current senior management body are female. Although we’re disappointed, transparency is important to us which is why we’re sharing our figures. 

2020/21 has been a challenging year with COVID and the need to adapt our business strategy. We hired more people in Tech and Data, which are commonly known for being male-dominated.

We’ve actively targeted our recruitment campaigns towards a female audience to try and compensate for this, and are continuing to prioritise our hiring strategy so that we surpass our target again as soon as we can. Our aim for the end of 2022 is to have 40% of women in leadership roles.

We’ve also implemented a hybrid working strategy, allowing for more flexibility in the workplace. 

As well as benefiting from the ethical rewards of gender equality, we’ve also experienced the business benefits of employing women in senior leadership roles. 

According to the Women Count 2020 report by leading diversity firm The Pipeline, London-listed companies are more profitable when women make up more than one in three executive roles. 

Listed firms, where at least one-third of the bosses are women, have a profit margin more than 10 times greater than those without.

2. Enhanced parental leave

We’ve met our target to enhance our parental leave policy to include six months at 75% pay for all new parents, regardless of gender, family structure or circumstance. We’re now also providing two weeks leave at 100% pa for secondary caregivers.  

Not providing fathers with access to parental leave can reinforce the harmful gender stereotype that childcare is a ‘woman’s job’.  In the UK, paternity leave is currently just two weeks at £148.68 or 90% of earnings, whichever is lower. 

According to the Women’s Equality Party, “making parental leave more equal would help close the pay gap. It would stop women having to drop out of the workplace and men having to drop out of their families. 

“When everyone has a stake in care, it is more valued.”


Two women working on a strategy in an office

Championing women at Funding Options 

At Funding Options, inclusivity isn’t just a tick box exercise. We make it our priority to champion the women within our business all year round. To gain insight into our employees’ experiences, check out our Women in Fintech series. 

Speaking about her experience of gender equality at Funding Options, Saskia van Kalsbeek, our Head of Sales and Commercial in the Netherlands says:

“To me inclusion has always been about me being able to walk and create my own path, no matter my gender. Funding Options has always seen me ‘as me’ and embraced my ideas and views. 

It’s great to feel like you matter and are being taken seriously, but this should be the basis for everyone, no matter your gender or background. So it’s great that Funding Options is spreading the diversity message, through signing up to the Charter."

Women in fintech: we need you!

Are you interested in joining the Funding Options team? If you’re looking for a new opportunity at one of Europe’s 1000 Fastest Growing Companies, head over to our careers page today so see our current vacancies. 

As well as a competitive salary, you’ll benefit from flexible working, an employee assistance and wellbeing support plan, enhanced parental leave pay if you’re the primary carer – and more!

See our vacancies

Zoe Cornish

Chief People & Operations Officer

Zoe Cornish is the Chief People & Operating Officer at Funding Options. Zoe has an extensive background in human resources and in developing and implementing people strategies within companies, covering employee engagement, performance management, organisational culture, coaching, as well as policies and practice. Prior to Funding Options, Zoe was the COO at Emerald group (acquired by Mind Tools).

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