However, despite the great leaps forward, a significant disparity exists between the number of men and women welcomed into the industry. As a young woman who had left school after A levels, it was challenging to progress in a very ‘traditional banking’ environment. I was fortunate to be accepted onto an accelerated management development programme in the first couple of years, but then it was down to me, and it took a lot of hard work to get to where I am today. It is incredibly important to talk about the challenges that continue to face women so that we can push forward equality and representation, create even more opportunities for talented women across all levels, and ultimately serve our customers better. Currently, the top five gender pay gaps by sector are all within financial services, with the average pay gap within the industry being 26.6%. That’s well above the 12.1% documented across the broader UK market. This needs to be prioritised by decision-makers to balance the opportunities and provide space for new talent and perspectives to enter the market – something greatly needed during real financial uncertainty. I recently read Christine Lagarde’s experience of being surrounded by men throughout her career, including in her current role as the head of the European Central Bank. While I can relate to how she feels, I am grateful to have had Ana Botin as a role model for me during my time at Santander. She was admired by many at the organisation, and I learned many positive lessons from my time there. Unfortunately, my experience of having strong women in senior positions is still rare. In 2021, the proportion of women in leadership roles within financial services organisations was 24% with the projection that this would grow to 28% by 2030 . This shouldn’t be acceptable and shows we must do more to ensure we move from conversations about increasing equality to material action. The UK Government has recognised change is needed and has been running the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter since March 2016 to improve gender The UK Government has recognised change is needed and has been running the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter since March 2016 to improve gender balance in senior management. “Currently, the top five gender pay gaps by sector are all within financial services, with the average pay gap within the industry being 26.6%. “ F i nanc i a l Innov a t i on & F i nTech 38 Finance Monthly.