A major survey, by financial recruitment firm Robert Half, has uncovered a dearth of family-friendly working policies in the finance industry, despite recent government legislation to encourage firms to accommodate working parents.
Almost half of the employees questioned said there was no company policy on flexible working in their workplace, while 32 per cent went even further by claiming their company was not family-friendly.
Nearly half of the female respondents felt the accountancy profession discriminated against working mothers, although just a quarter of their male colleagues agreed.
The study of more than 2,500 UK finance professionals revealed that just two in 10 financial directors are women, with just one in eight firms hiring a female chief executive.
The figures show that although the numbers are pretty evenly split at junior level, this falls off dramatically as employees move up the ranks, suggesting that women are still hitting the ‘glass ceiling’.
The gender pay gap is also wider among finance professionals, with women earning an average of 22 per cent less than their male colleagues, compared to 18 per cent across the workforce as a whole.
The poll suggests that women are forced to move jobs in order to gain promotion, with the majority seeking alternative employment after three years.
Phil Sheridan, UK regional manager at Robert Half, says HR professionals have a major role to play in helping shape a new culture in the sector.
“There’s a big disparity at the senior end, and I think it comes down to a lack of support for women working in the finance profession. Culturally, I think the sector is all about delivering results and meeting targets, which can often mean short-sighted policies on staff.