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TSB bonuses to be docked for failure to meet gender balance targets

<span>Photograph: TSB/PA</span>
Photograph: TSB/PA

Bosses at TSB will have their bonuses docked for failing to meet gender balance targets intended to raise the number of women in senior roles by 2020.

It is the latest blow for the leadership team at the bank, which is cutting jobs and closing branches as it seeks to drive down costs and move on from its IT meltdown last year.

TSB has scrapped a commitment to raise the number of women in senior roles to 45-55% by 2020, after an internal review found it had not made enough progress. Despite appointing its first female chief executive – Debbie Crosbie – in May, TSB has seen the number of women in senior roles dip to 38% from 41% in 2017.

The Guardian understands that bonuses for both executives and managers for 2019 will be docked for failing to meet the 2020 target, which is one of the metrics used to determine pay.

TSB set its original targets three years ago after signing on to the government-backed women in finance charter, which aims to promote gender balance across the City. In October, TSB notified the Treasury that it would not meet its target on time and would likely take another five years to reach its original goal.

TSB’s SME banking director Catherine Douglas is technically responsible for gender diversity and inclusion at the bank. But internally, all of TSB’s managers and executives are held accountable for those targets.

A spokeswoman for TSB would not comment on pay, but said: “TSB takes gender diversity very seriously … and although we are making progress through initiatives such as our Promotion Ready and Aspiring Women programmes, we have revised our target. Internally, we are tracking interim targets as our ambition is to deliver on these targets before 2025.”

It is an embarrassing admission for the bank as it tries to restore its finances and reputation following an IT meltdown in 2018, which locked up to 1.9 million customers out of their accounts and led to the departure of Crosbie’s predeccesor, Paul Pester.

TSB has since embarked on a turnaround plan that will involve closing more than 80 branches and cut nearly 400 jobs. But efforts to streamline the bank’s operations have come at a cost. In one of her first major moves as chief executive, Crosbie cut down her leadership team from 15 to 10 members, leaving HR director Liz Ashford the only other woman on the team.

Related: Warning signs for TSB's IT meltdown were clear a year ago – insider

Mark Brown, the general secretary for the Affinity trade union, said: “Gender diversity is not something you can switch off when things get difficult. For a challenger bank like TSB, ensuring that women are fairly represented in senior management roles should be a central part of its strategy especially when women make many of the consumer spending decisions.

“For the new chief executive officer, Debbie Crosbie, to abandon TSB’s target of having at least 45% of senior manager roles held by women by 2020 and pushing it out to 2025 is deeply offensive. She’s well and truly pulled up the ladder on her female TSB colleagues.”

Aside from Ashford, Crosbie has made two external appointments since joining, both male. Chief operating officer Suresh Viswanathan, who was brought in from Barclays, has reorganised his division but only one of the people directly reporting into his office is a woman. Only two of the nine staff reporting into Robin Bulloch, who was recently put in charge of customer banking, are women.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the women’s campaign group the Fawcett Society, said: “TSB have clearly found it more challenging to hit their 2020 target than they anticipated. The precise reasons are unclear in this case, but we know that it can take time to progress gender equality, particularly at senior levels. This is why we argue for interventions such as positive action and proportionate progression to speed up change.”