“With more technology today, why do I have to be here?’ As long as your work gets done, I don’t think you have to be.”
Flexible working was a hot topic at the 2017 Women in Finance Summit and is something that Virgin Money CEO, Jayne-Anne Gadhia feels shouldn’t be a barrier to getting more women into the industry.
Being a mum has certainly not been a barrier for Gadhia. Her career has so far has been a remarkable one. In 2011, she successfully led the acquisition of Northern Rock from the UK Government, nearly four years after it was nationalised.
She successfully integrated Northern Rock into the Virgin Money Group and has since extended the business with the acquisition of a credit card book and the creation of a current account.
Under her stewardship, the business has grown organically delivering strong financial performance and a return to profitability.
Gadhia originally joined Virgin in 1995 where she created the Virgin One account. This business was acquired by RBS in 2001 and she moved to RBS with it. She rejoined Virgin Money in 2007 and one of her first steps was to create Virgin Money Giving, a not-for-profit business dedicated to helping charities raise as much money as possible.
In January 2014, in recognition of both her services to banking and voluntary service to the community, Gadhia was awarded a CBE in the New Year Honours List.
Most recently Gadhia was asked by HM Treasury to lead a review into Women in Finance, which resulted in the Women in Finance Charter. The charter invites firms to sign and commit to supporting the progression of women into senior roles; setting their own internal targets and publically reporting on any progress made. Since it’s launch 93 firms have signed the charter including PwC, Barclays, HSBC and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Speaking about what is next for the Women in Finance Charter, Gadhia said she would be focusing on those who had not already pledged their support.
She said, “We do find, of course, some companies just won’t sign up to the Charter – and I find that really difficult.”
“Once of my objectives, if you like, is to look at these companies who haven’t signed the Charter. By now, it seems they have made the conscious effort not to sign it, and I want to shine a spotlight on them.”
“I wanted to make it [the Charter], so any company of any shape or size, couldn’t escape and didn’t want to escape.”
Continuing her speech, Gadhia touched upon the need to get more men involved in the cause and to help them understand the need for equality.
Speaking about her experience within her own team, she said, “I didn’t want my male colleagues to think that I was just interested in their female counterparts.”
“It’s not about that, it’s about harnessing all the talent.”
She also shared her advice for dealing with men who were wary of equality. She said, “You’ll find that as you have more children, your love doesn’t lessen, it multiplies and perhaps this is how we should handle men wary of equality.”