Equality timebomb warning as women plan to flee City jobs

City HR managers must act now to stop talented women leaving the corporate world in search of new careers, an expert has warned.

A global survey of 1,059 people by financial services firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers, of which 90% were female, warned that nearly three-quarters of respondents felt the recession would provide a new opportunity for women to exit corporate life to start afresh.

Almost half – 45% – of the respondents, working in finance, banking or professional services, said when the economy bounced back they expected to move their careers towards working in small businesses or social enterprise.

However, Sarah Churchman, director of diversity at PwC, warned their plans would deal a blow to gender diversity progress. She said: “The by-product of the recession could be to stall or reverse the sector’s gender diversity progress and investment, short-changing the UK economy’s recovery by removing or alienating a generation of female talent.

“Securing and maintaining the recruitment, retention and development of women in mid-management roles now is the only way a pipeline of women in senior executive roles can be maintained in the recovery.”

Last week research revealed the gender pay gap in the finance sector stands at 60%, more than twice the national average. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission is currently reviewing why inequality is so rife in the financial services sector, but Churchman added HR had a role to play in making sure corporate jobs remained attractive to women.

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