We believe that the diversity of our people strengthens our leadership team and, therefore, the effectiveness of its independence, judgement and decision making. In support of this, we've developed a Diversity and Inclusion strategy, with an ambition ‘to have an inclusive culture, which enables colleagues with a diverse range of skills, experiences, backgrounds and opinions to flourish, without barriers'.
Women in Finance
We are committed to increasing the representation of women in senior roles in the Society. To do this, we set ourselves 2 targets:
Board: 33% female representation by 2021.
Senior Management team: 33% female representation by 2021.
Our female representation at Board level is 22.2% (2019: 27%). Our Board is small, relative to our whole organisation and opportunities to recruit are infrequent. As a result of a female Executive Board colleague retiring from the Society at the beginning of 2020, our gender balance has decreased, but we are confident that we remain on track to hit our target of 33% by the end of 2021.
All Board appointments are based on merit against objective criteria, the skills and experience of the Board as a whole and with regard to the benefits of diversity. Through our Board Diversity policy, we are certain that we have the practices in place which are gender neutral and support recruitment of the best candidate. We are confident when the opportunities arise to recruit, we will make positive progress towards our target.
Having been above target (34%) for our senior management population, we are below target at present (28.6%). We have and are making a concerted effort to address this change in the senior management gender balance, and are continuing to develop our talent pipeline of women and have implemented recruitment and selection practices to support this.
We have an executive sponsored Gender Diversity Forum and BAME Forum, which have engaged with colleagues to focus on targeted activities through raising of awareness and education to support our overall diversity approach.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have supported families and carers with our extended suite of flexible working practices such as extensive home working and flexibility in working practices. During this period, no colleagues were furloughed and many colleagues accessed support the Society was able to offer to manage work and home needs.
Through our colleague-led diversity forums, we have continued to support and deliver our Diversity & Inclusion strategy, supported by our senior executives, including active participation from our Board members. We recognise education and awareness is critical to supporting a developing diversity agenda and have provided updated training material for all colleagues on Unconscious Bias and general Diversity training.
We will continue our efforts to increase the number of women in senior positions in our organisation, supported by our Diversity & Inclusion strategy. We were pleased our achievements to date in the area of diversity and inclusion, were recognised by the National Centre for Diversity in 2020, with 2 awards recognising our efforts and deliverables.
We have successfully achieved re-accreditation as Leaders in Diversity in October 2020, with the National Centre for Diversity, which demonstrates our continued commitment to the promotion and development of our diversity and inclusion policies and practices.
Our Board Diversity Policy
Leeds Building Society firmly believes in the importance of a diverse Board membership, in its broadest sense and promotes an inclusive culture across the organisation, in line with our Values. We believe the diversity of skills, experience, backgrounds, opinions and other distinctions including gender and race strengthens the capability of the Board and, therefore, the effectiveness of its independence, judgement and decision making.
All Board appointments will be based on merit against objective criteria, the skills and experience of the Board as a whole and with regard to the benefits of diversity.
The Nominations Committee reviews and assesses Board composition on behalf of the Board on an annual basis and recommends the appointment of Directors. The Committee also oversees the conduct of the annual review of Board effectiveness.
The Nominations Committee will agree, annually, the measureable objectives for Board diversity and recommend them to the Board for adoption. Currently, the objectives are to:
- proactively aim for, and sustain, female representation of 33%, both on the Board and in the top three layers of our Senior Management Team (excluding the Board) by the end of 2021
- only engage executive search firms which have signed up to the voluntary Code of Conduct for gender diversity and best practice. External advertising to be considered as part of the attraction methods utilised
- provide enhanced disclosure on the Board appointment process and the consideration of diversity as part of the board evaluation process.
The Nominations Committee will report annually in the corporate governance section of the Leeds Building Society Accounts on the agreed objectives and the progress against these objectives and other initiatives taking place which promote gender, race and other forms of diversity.