New proposals by City regulators may force financial services firms to set quotas on the number of women in senior positions and publish diversity policies.
The proposals are being considered by the Prudential Regulation Authority, which regulates large banks, building societies and insurers. The proposals form part of a PRA consultation looking at a specific EU directive – the Capital Requirements Regulation – which is traditionally associated with financial regulation, such as capping bankers’ bonuses.
According to employment solicitor Linda Jones, who spoke to the Guardian, this would be the first time forced gender quotas were imposed in the UK.
"These proposals, which emanate from an EU directive, represent a step change for financial institutions," Jones said.
At the moment, many of the largest public financial services firms have to comply with voluntary quotas, although there are no penalties for non-compliance. This would change if the new proposals are introduced.
The PRA said that the proposals are intended to “improve diversity within firms’ management bodies.”