Women in Finance Charter (WIFC) 2020 Progress Update

In October 2017, Castlefield became a signatory to the Women in Finance Charter (WIFC), a Charter launched with the objective of achieving “gender balance” within the financial industry, where women at senior management levels are often scarce.

Upon becoming signatories, we committed ourselves to maintaining 50% female representation in senior roles. We believe that people managers have the opportunity to be the most influential in recruiting, developing, engaging and retaining employees and that is why our definition of senior roles includes all those who have responsibilities for a team. Over the course of the last few years we have continued to transform our business and apply changes to its structure and consequently its culture. We are therefore on track to maintain our current status this year and are looking forward to the next 12 months.

Whilst the Charter’s objective focuses on gender diversity, all forms of diversity are important to our business. Castlefield recognises the enormous benefit that can be gained from a fairer and more inclusive financial services industry. We are firmly of the belief that a balanced workforce is good for business and society. Our efforts to maintain and improve diversity of our current and prospective co-owners are led by the established Women in Finance Charter working group. The group is meeting regularly and has already accomplished some great results.

We have been working for few years to ensure we have a fair and equal approach to the remuneration strategy at Castlefield. In the past our structure took its form from the acquisition of different businesses and we were not always in the position to positively speak about the issue of gender pay gaps. This year, in effect from September 2020 we now have clearly defined salary bands and are confident that all co-owners fit within those. It is a huge step in the away we approach discussions about reward within the business and one that will immediately benefit the whole population of co-owners.

Having recognised from research that a commonly cited the reason for women missing scheduled health screens e.g. cervical screening, was because ‘they wouldn't go if they had to take time off work’. WIFC working group decided to act in this area and we added a section to our Absence Policy on attending NHS health screenings. It allows all co-owners – men and women to schedule appointments for all NHS health screens during working hours and without needing to make the time up later, book time off or rush to and from appointments. We want to encourage and facilitate our co-owners to look after their health and wellbeing without worrying that this would deplete their work efforts. Whilst we are not measuring this in a quantitative manner, anecdotally we are aware that co-owners have been making use of the initiative.

2020 is truly exceptional year for all co-owners. Meaningful changes in the way we approach work have been successfully implemented and there has been much progress in the field of flexible working.

Since March everyone in the business has been working remotely. We have received positive feedback on how the business has dealt with the implications of COVID 19 and the speed of which co-owners adapted to working from home. This ability to perform our jobs so well away from the office has enabled us to redefine our overall attitudes towards working, which will have long-term benefits. . The recognition that home working is a viable option for the foreseeable future, a sustainable solution that might suit the majority of our co-owners going forward has taken place. When we recruit for the new roles, we add the comment (where relevant), that the position is suitable to be performed remotely.

It means that we can better support those with additional commitments, parents of school age children and carers, who often are female. This comes in addition to the approved and implemented Paid Dependant Leave policy  introduced in March 2020. This can be directly attributed to the efforts of the WIFC working.

Our women in Finance Charter Working group has been diligently recruiting additional members throughout 2020 and as a result we have been able to make more well-structured, formalised actions both internally and externally. We are reaching out to the official professional networks at various universities to attract more women to work in financial services. We are also working with the facilities management company Bruntwood, and CISI about hosting and organising an event on menopause at work. Finally, we’ve recently been in talks with a local charity about enabling high school children to have access to professionals and helpful career advice.

With all this in store, we’ve an exciting year ahead of us!


Written by Ewelina Niziolek-Wilson