The Treasury has appointed two women to senior roles at the Bank of England following criticism over a lack of diversity among its top ranks.
The former Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia and the Banking Standards Board chair, Colette Bowe, will each serve three-year terms as external members of the Bank’s financial policy committee, which is responsible for spotting risks to UK financial stability.
They replace Richard Sharp and Martin Taylor, who will step down at the end of March and June, respectively. Women will still be in the minority on the 13-strong FPC when Gadhia and Bowe take up their posts, with Elisabeth Stheeman currently its sole female member.
The Bank of England has been criticised for a lack of women and ethnic minorities in senior roles.
The Bank’s interest rate-setting monetary policy committee has only one woman, Silvana Tenreyro, among its nine members. The Treasury came under fire last year when it opted to appoint Jonathan Haskel to the MPC, despite being the only man on a shortlist of five candidates.
The Bank faced further scrutiny after the MPC member Ben Broadbent was accused of using sexist language when he described the UK economy as “menopausal”.
Politicians are concerned that few women could be candidates to take over as governor. The Bank has been led entirely by men throughout its 324-year history. Two of parliament’s most influential select committee chairs, the MPs Rachel Reeves and Frank Field, have said the Treasury needs to work harder to find women who could succeed Mark Carney. Reeves recently told the Guardian that the Bank “has not done enough to recruit, train and promote talented women”.
The Treasury said on Thursday that Bowe and Gadhia were among five women and three men shortlisted for the FPC position. Candidates were whittled down from 42, 20 of whom were women.
MP and head of the Treasury select committee, Nicky Morgan, said: “The Treasury committee has expressed its concerns about the lack of diversity on the Bank of England’s policy committees. While this is a step in the right direction, female representation on the FPC remains at under a quarter and is 11% on the MPC.
“The Bank and the Treasury must be open to people from different and diverse backgrounds to ensure that progress continues. The Treasury committee will continue to monitor this extremely closely.”
Carney, who serves on the FPC alongside the Financial Conduct Authority CEO, Andrew Bailey, said he was delighted by the appointments. He said Bowe has “led the way in developing and embedding better standards of conduct across the banking sector”.
However, Bowe recently admitted that little progress had been made on fixing the UK’s poor banking culture, five years after the major inquiry that sparked the creation of the Banking Standards Board.
“Her experience in the private sector and handling some of the biggest regulatory challenges of our times will also be extremely valuable to the committee’s deliberations in the coming years,” Carney added. Bowe is also known for chairing the communications watchdog Ofcom from 2009-14.
The governor also welcomed the appointment of Gadhia, who recently stepped down as CEO of Virgin Money after its takeover by CYBG.
“Jayne-Anne brings deep and relevant experience in retail banking and her successful business career,” Carney said. “In her public policy she has championed the transformative impact of adopting new technologies and of greater diversity within the workforce of the financial services industry. We also greatly look forward to her contributions to the work of the committee.”