How Charles Stanley is transforming its male-dominated working culture

Charles Stanley

Financial services is traditionally a male-dominated sector, and the industry’s gender pay gap statistics show there is still a lot of work to do to make it a more equal place. However, investment management firm Charles Stanley has made a concerted effort to orchestrate change.

Its work led to head of HR Kate Griffiths-Lambeth (pictured, second from right), and chief executive officer Paul Abberley (pictured, right), winning the Business culture leadership award at the Business Culture Awards 2017. 

When she joined in late 2015, Griffiths-Lambeth was the first woman appointed to the executive committee in Charles Stanley’s history, since it was founded in 1792. There are now two women on the executive committee. Meanwhile, the organisation has signed up to the Women in Finance Charter, and 50% of its non-executive directors are female.

The organisation conducted its first ever employee engagement survey when Griffiths-Lambeth joined. “The results gave us the main topics to then orchestrate change,” she says.

This prompted Charles Stanley to hold a diversity-focused conference, to which all employees were invited. Senior leaders were amazed at the comments some employees made. For example, one felt the business was patriarchal, and another did not feel it was supportive of diversity.

“We decided to establish a diversity and inclusion group,” says Griffiths-Lambeth. This group has since introduced organisation-wide mentoring, invited female business leaders to address the organisation, and set up smaller, more informal focus groups. Some of the latter are hosted by external facilitators, to establish a safe environment and encourage staff to voice their concerns confidentially.

Creating a positive culture is at the forefront of Griffiths-Lambeth’s approach. “There is no point berating unless it is really grim; it’s much better to celebrate and educate,” she notes.

Accordingly, Charles Stanley has offered talented staff stretch promotions. For example, one employee originally worked in HR, and was promoted to work in the private client division. Charles Stanley is now financing her part-time MBA, and she is being mentored by Griffiths-Lambeth and Abberley.

Griffiths-Lambeth is also working hard to change old-fashioned perceptions about female asset managers. “We have done a fabulous feature with Country Life on one of our really good female fund managers, showcasing how talented she is. My advice is to showcase the people who are exemplifying what you want to be as an organisation.”