anderson Finance Consultant Helen Yang explores the issue of gender disparity within the Finance sector and how we could progress.
As an experienced Finance recruiter, I have noticed that day-to-day I talk to quite a few male candidates. This is somewhat reflective of a prevalent and targeted issue; the disparity of men and women within the Financial industry and their associated issues. Having attended various female insight days and panel discussions, there seems to be a growing consensus that things need to change and that attempts are being made to shift prejudices.
Where are we currently?
In April 2017, companies residing in the UK with over 250 employees were legally obliged to disclose data in an attempt to create more transparency surrounding gender pay gap figures. Financial Services is still one of the worst for this disparity, with a 31 per cent median pay gap. (Statista, 2017)
Only 15 per cent at the executive level are women and women constitute 46 per cent of Financial Services employees. (Forbes, 2018)
The idea is that by having more women in the industry and at more senior positions, hopefully this gap can be reduced. Some major issues will include encouraging higher interest in the application process and overcoming traditional opinions of women in leadership, particularly regarding power and the balance of family and career.
Changing opinions can be especially difficult as you cannot easily implement procedures that will alter existing views. I have certainly heard of a few instances where women have not been paid the same respect in a boardroom setting as male counterparts, which is not considered outright discrimination.
What are the benefits?
There are many benefits of having more women in the Finance sector and at more senior levels:
- Access to a wider talent pool
- Positive impacts on culture and conduct
- Added skillsets and capabilities that contribute to the future growth of the business
How do we progress?
So far, there seems to be increasing initiatives encouraging female students at secondary school and university level to join the industry. This ground-up approach can mean progress towards changing mind-sets at an early stage. Creating opportunities at this level may help to shift the status-quo towards a more progressive and balanced future in the Finance workforce.
This does raise a few concerns over positive discrimination and a less meritocratic process. However, creating exclusive events doesn’t necessarily have an effect on application processes. Arguably, these processes are still largely directed towards attracting men. By encouraging more women to apply and having more gender neutral processes, this can be a fairer approach.
Moreover, women with more experience can be attracted to the industry by creating opportunities to pursue a successful career whilst having a family. More can be done to help women wanting to balance this lifestyle. This can be through better maternity leave packages or promoting paternity leave and changing attitudes from a different angle. Facilitating flexible working for both sides is a step in a more positive direction.
To make an impact in the industry, both men and women require an increased awareness of these issues and the willingness to make a change.
Time is perhaps the biggest factor of them all. Any progress will take time, from slowly shifting opinions to an increased senior, female talent pool. If we persist, time will do the rest.
It’s a start…
The New York Stock Exchange has implemented their first female President.
The Big Four have started to take on an even gender mix of graduates.
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