Royal Bank of Scotland has set a target for one third of its top 600 management roles to be held by women by 2020.
The lender, which is 79% owned by the taxpayer, will apply the target throughout the business from its high street arm to its investment bank and has written the goals into the objectives of senior executives, including Ross McEwan, CEO.
The bank’s sustainability report said the targets to have one in three women in management roles across the company were “supported by plans which contain specific, measurable activities to increase senior female representation and better balance across all levels within the bank”.
The current gender balance in each of the divisions varies from around 30% in human resources to 15% in parts of the investment bank.
The target has been introduced after the bank achieved its goal of ensuring that women hold at least 30% of its top 5,000 roles.
Other banks have set targets for female representation, including Lloyds Banking Group, which is aiming for 40% female representation at management level by 2020.
As in other high street banks, women far outweigh men in clerical roles at RBS, at two-thirds to one-third, but the position is reversed at more senior positions. More than half the bank’s workforce – 54% – is female.
Marjorie Strachan, head of inclusion at RBS, said: “30% is the tipping point that makes a difference in culture and behaviour.”
The target is being written into the objectives of McEwan’s executive committee, which includes seven other men and two women and is one rank below board level.
Alison Rose, head of commercial and private banking at RBS and one of the members of the committee, has previously indicated the bank was considering introducing targets. In October, she said: “If I’m not recruiting, retaining or developing the most talented workforce I possibly can, I’m not going to be delivering the best results … it is ridiculous we don’t have more talented women coming through the organisation into the financial services sector.”
Strachan said the long-term objective of RBS was for a 50-50 gender balance at all levels of the organisation by 2030. While the RBS board contains seven men and four women, including the company secretary, none of the positions held by women are in full-time executive roles.
The number of women in the boardrooms of Britain’s biggest companies has come under increasing focus in recent years since Mervyn Davies set a government-backed target for 25% of board seats to be taken by women by this year. The most recent count last October put the percentage at 22.8%, leading business secretary Vince Cable to warn that there would be a threat of Brussels setting mandatory quotas if the voluntary approach was not seen to be working.