#WRA23 is open: here’s what you need to know

Posted 2023

What a pleasure it is to be able to say the Women’s Recognition Awards are back for another year!

2023 - six years since the start of FRWRA

It has been six years since the first Women’s Recognition Awards launched. In those six years, we’ve seen great strides made in the visibility and volume of conversations about gender equality in financial services. We’ve been delighted to be part of that conversation, but there are countless others to mention, too - from podcasts to working groups, the tide has continued to shift.

However, change isn’t always a straight line upwards.

The 2022 Women in Finance Charter numbers make for mixed reading. While many signatory firms are setting more ambitious targets for themselves, the percentage of women in senior management roles had stagnated at 33%. It is the first time that this number has shown no increase year-on-year since the Charter’s inception, and suggests that focus on improving the gender balance at the top of firms had faltered slightly.

Perhaps some of this can be explained by a busy preceding 12 months, with firms’ attention turned elsewhere. More cynical commentators have suggested that the interest in gender equality may have waned after the initial, PR-boosting buzz had worn off.

Regardless of the reason behind the lack of improvement, it does tell us something important: that these conversations are not yet over. As an industry, there is still work to be done. And that work is evolving each year.

Broadening the scope with new categories

With that in mind, we thought long and hard about how to evolve what we do and how we commit to making a difference in financial services.

The conversation about equality, diversity and inclusion in our industry has changed even just in the six short years since our awards launched, and rightly so. How level the playing field is for women has never been a standalone issue: it speaks to a broader issue of representation and inclusion more generally, and in financial services specifically. A more diverse industry overall would be representative of our society, with people of difference races, sexualities, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds represented - as well as different genders.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was ‘Embrace Equity’, and they explain equity in their ‘Equality versus Equity: What’s the difference...’ blog brilliantly:

“Imagine that you are babysitting two children, and they are hungry. You go to the fruit bowl, and you start to pick up two apples to give them to each child. However, you remember at the last moment that one of the children is allergic to apples. Instead, you reach for one apple and one banana, and that way you're being fair.”
Belgium-based inclusion specialist Tamara Makoni

Equity is not giving everyone the same opportunities - it is giving everyone the opportunity to achieve the same things, and this can mean additional support for those starting with different challenges.

Better representation for women in our industry goes hand-in-hand with an industry where everyone is given the support and opportunity to thrive - which is why our four new awards categories are designed to reward businesses and people who are working towards inclusion and equity across the board, not just on the issue of gender.

Our new ‘Diversity, Equity & Inclusion’ categories are:

  • Best Employee Support
  • Best Customer Support
  • Community Champions
  • Best Leadership

We know there are plenty of businesses who are doing amazing things to improve access to finance for their customers; countless active Employee Resource Groups; many firms working hard with charity partners to make a difference in their communities; and plenty of leaders who are pushing hard for a more inclusive industry overall.

We’re proud and excited to now have categories that recognise those efforts and we look forward to seeing your entries - you can see the category descriptions here.

What to expect for 2023

Aside from our new categories, it’s business as usual!

We’re looking for the brilliant women in our industry whose achievements should be recognised. We’re looking for the businesses making strides towards an inclusive, fair workplace. We’re asking for everyone to make nominations or to consider entering themselves. And we have an incredible panel of judges (see them here!) to help us narrow down hundreds of entries.

To our applicants - the best of luck. To everyone else, please consider making a nomination for this year’s awards: we have some articles coming up soon that explore the reactions of our past winners which make it clear how impactful even being nomination for a Women’s Recognition Award can be, and we want to ensure more nominees than ever get the recognition they deserve.

Here's to #WRA23!