At the recent Times CEO Summit, Chief Executives admitted that efforts to improve gender diversity at some of the UK’s largest businesses have not worked.

The government introduced gender pay gap reporting in 2017 for all businesses with more than 250 employees, to tackle pay inequality between men and women. The average pay gap among the 60 largest companies in the FTSE 100 is 20 per cent, while across the UK the mean gender pay gap is 17.4 per cent.

James Bardrick, the head of Citigroup in the UK said analysis by the bank had found that promoting more women to senior roles could increase productivity by six per cent, but a number of initiatives undertaken by Citi to increase gender diversity had “simply not worked”.

Mr Bardrick said that Citi must shift its focus to educating senior management about the importance of diversity. “Senior management need to be on board, just having diversity champions doesn’t work. Managers need to realise that increasing diversity is not a peripheral plan, it’s the main plan.”

He said that some managers created barriers to diversity. “We haven’t removed the stigma among middle managers about presenteeism. Tech advances mean we can work flexibly, but the problem is what people think.”

Research into women of vice president level or above leaving Citigroup found that 100% left to join a competitor.  This has challenged the myths about why women do not end up in the most senior roles, “Not one woman left to look after a child or a parent.” Said Mr Bardrick.