On the one hand, it’s a day that provides a fantastic opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements worldwide and recognise the contribution both women and men make to address gender inequality in our industry and the business landscape more widely. However, it also lays bare that further collective effort is required if we are to make more progress on the vital issue of gender equality together.

Action, not words, is the order of the day – and with that in mind, I’m proud that at Jersey Finance we’ve sought to address that head on, move on from just talking about gender equality, and bring about positive action to create the diverse, progressive and inclusive sector we need in Jersey.

In particular, I was pleased that last month we were able to announce our accreditation as an employer through charity Liberate’s DIFERA scheme. DIFERA is the first scheme in the Channel Islands to award organisations with a quality mark that demonstrates that an organisation places DIFERA – diversity, inclusion, fairness, equality, respect and acceptance – at the heart of what it does.

More recently, we were also able to launch our new ‘Women in Alternatives’ platform through an exclusive series of events. Aimed at female funds professionals from both Jersey and London, the events aim to create an environment to have relaxed and open discussions around the latest trends in the private markets and alternative investments sector. Our hope is that it will provide a network that can help elevate and inspire the next generation of women in alternatives.

Both of these initiatives are a step in the right direction, and build on our past and ongoing efforts – such as our now well-established Women in Leadership event series in the Middle East, which for the last six years, has been extremely well received and supported.

Ongoing Work

Importantly, though, we know that these latest initiatives are not the finished product – there is still much to do and our work is ongoing.

At our recent ‘Ready’ events, for instance we talked at length to our groups of young talent, experienced professionals and senior leaders about the challenges of ensuring Jersey’s long-term success in financial and professional services – diversity and nurturing a sustainable workforce were very much at the heart of those discussions. We’ll be producing a report highlighting the outcomes of those events in more detail in the near future.

Why is all this so important to Jersey as an IFC?

First, because, women play an increasingly vital role in business decision making, implementing investment strategies, fund management and private and family office wealth management – all areas where Jersey provides services.

A recent report from Pitchbook – All In: Female Founders in the European VC Ecosystem – for example, shows that female founders represent a growing proportion of total venture capital activity in Europe and that growth in deal activity in recent years shows more receptiveness to female founders.

We cannot assume Jersey can remain well set up to support this dynamic if we are not serious about reflecting gender equality within our own frameworks.

And more widely, because the world Jersey operates in, as an IFC, is increasingly complex and diverse, in terms of both asset classes and geographical markets. We need to able to give confidence to those markets that we understand their worlds through our workforce and knowledge base.

Positive Change

Yet, there is still a fundamental disconnect within the industry as a whole. A recent PwC report, for instance, found that women in the UK banking and finance industry are paid 9.3% less than men working in the same position; meanwhile, trials by Tisa and the University of Nottingham found that women are investing up to 21% less in the stock market as a result of ‘over-egged’ messaging around the risk – despite women holding 52% of ISA accounts at Hargreaves Lansdown, one of Britain’s largest stockbrokers.

As a jurisdiction with a genuine commitment to bringing about positive change through facilitating cross-border capital in diverse markets, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to break through these barriers and support progress.

And we have a good platform for doing so. We have a hugely experienced workforce; firms in Jersey have been successful in bringing diverse and specialist talent to the Island through their international networks, helping to create a truly cosmopolitan feel; financial and related services in Jersey and the wider business community are increasingly sophisticated in their diversity and inclusion strategies.

In addition, to my mind, good corporate governance is crucial – something that has long been at the heart of our proposition and that flows right across our funds, private client, banking and corporate sectors, and more recently our sustainable finance work. Being able to demonstrate a diverse pool of directors – spanning gender, skills and background – is going to be increasingly important in remaining a clear leader in corporate governance.

Doing so, in tandem with our other initiatives, can give us a good foundation for reinforcing our commitment to not only talking about gender equality, diversity and inclusion – but playing a part in changing the paradigm through tangible action too.