Darlington Building Society has signed up to the ‘Women in Finance Charter’ as part of its commitment to improving equality and diversity across the organisation.

The charter is a HM Treasury initiative to help more women into senior finance roles by focusing on executive succession planning and mid-tier management, with financial organisations required to report publicly on progress to meet internal targets measuring the “transparency and accountability needed to drive change”.

Back in March, the Society made a declaration on International Women’s Day to work towards becoming a signatory, and with significant progress being made in all areas of the Society’s equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, the charter has now been signed.

The Society’s objective is for 50 per cent of senior leadership positions to be filled by women, with the proportion increasing from the current 36 per cent to 45 per cent by May 2025.

Helen Easton, Director of People and Culture, said: “Darlington Building Society’s aim is to be fully representative of the population and members it serves, whether that’s gender, ethnicity, disability, or age. Becoming a signatory of the Women in Finance Charter is an important step towards that key objective.”

Chief Executive, Andrew Craddock, added: “I want everyone in the Society to come to work knowing they can be themselves, and feel comfortable irrespective of their differences.

“It’s about how we treat staff and value all forms of diversity. It’s not just about physical characteristics but people’s backgrounds and social mobility.

“Signing the Women in Finance Charter is a public commitment to clearly demonstrate to the financial services market, our members, and our staff that we consider diversity to be fundamentally important.”

Other areas of progress on diversity at the Society include the launch of a Women’s Network as a forum to promote personal development. Driven by Helen and Distribution Director, Louise Thorpe, the network’s membership also includes Vice Chair, Kate McIntyre, and non-executive director, Angela Russell.

“The vision is for the members of the Women’s Network to cascade the information down to their teams, then next year to go down to the next level of women leaders, with the original members acting as facilitators,” said Helen. “We are already seeing a huge lift in confidence.”

Other areas of progress on diversity include:

  • The launch of an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion section on the Society’s website.
  • Becoming a Disability Committed organisation, while working towards being Disability Confident by next year.
  • A quiet area being created for faith groups and neurodivergent colleagues.
  • Working with 55/Redefined to give more employment opportunities to the over-50s, with that commitment being incorporated into the recruitment strategy.
  • The launch of a leadership programme for senior management, including diversity as a key focus.
  • Training for recruitment managers around conscious and unconscious bias.
  • Plans for board members to have inclusive leadership training before the end of the year.
  • The completion of the 2023 Social Mobility Employer Index Survey, aimed at making the workplace more inclusive.

“We are delighted to be making significant progress, but we know there’s still a lot to do, and we are looking at every aspect of the organisation to improve equality, diversity, and inclusion,” said Helen.