Corporate Yorkshire told to raise its game on diversity

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CORPORATE YORKSHIRE must raise its game on boardroom diversity, according to a female executive at a leading financial institution.

Kim Rebecchi, the sales and marketing director at Leeds Building Society, warned that businesses are missing out on talent.

The Yorkshire Post revealed last month that just one fifth of partners in Yorkshire’s top professional services firms are female.

A study by accountancy frm BDO found that women make up just 10 per cent of the boards of the largest Yorkshire businesses.

Mrs Rebecchi said: “If Yorkshire businesses don’t step up to the mark then we will fall behind because for companies to continue to be successful they have got to have that diversity because it brings a different way of thinking.”

She added that Leeds Building Society is “definitely leading the way from a diversity perspective”.

The lender has four women on its board of 12; two of the four executive directors are female: Mrs Rebecchi and her sister Karen Wint, the operations director. Philippa Brown, the chief executive of media agency Omnicom, and Susan Cooklin, the chief information officer at Network Rail Infrastructure, are non-executive directors.

Mrs Rebecchi was speaking after Leeds Building Society unveiled a £1m revamp of its branches, website and branding by Leeds agency Thompson Brand Partners.

She said the mutual spent the money wisely - “one of our USPs is our efficiency ratio” - and won’t be changing the branch uniforms, just the ties and scarves.

Asked how historic institutions like building societies can reinvent themselves for the digital age, Mrs Rebecchi said: “You have got to understand the customers and what they want.

“We just haven’t dreamt up our proposition in a room. We have spoken to real customers now, people we think will be our customers in the future and found out what they want.

“You can replicate that heritage, that service in digital channels as well as you can in the branch network.”

Leeds Building Society has 67 branches in total.

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