Women still make up less than a quarter of senior promotions within financial services businesses, despite some signs of recent progress.
An analysis by employment and partnership law specialist Fox & Partners found that of the 5,815 senior level promotions and hires in the financial services sector in the past year, just 1,365 were women (24%).
Despite some progress being made over the previous year, when women represented just 21% of new senior positions, gender parity, even in promotions, appears to be a long way off.
The research showed that male board directors at FTSE 350 financial services firms earned 66% more than women on those boards last year – £689,550 for male directors, compared with an average of £235,075 for women.
Significant cultural changes will be needed to improve gender diversity within senior levels at financial services firms if a larger pool of potential female leaders is to be created, argue the report’s authors.
Catriona Watt, partner at Fox & Partners, said it was of concern that although firms often spoke about diversity policies little progress was being made. She said: “Women remain underrepresented at a senior management level but of more concern, among new entrants to senior management.
Diversity and the City
“The list of promotions and new hires today are still heavily stacked against women, despite deliberate action to achieve diversity by many employers.
“The percentage of new senior managers that are women will have to increase dramatically, or it is doubtful that we will reach gender parity at the senior level in this generation.”
Fox & Partners said its experience was that being honest about and identifying potential barriers to progression was a challenging but important first step to improve gender diversity. Firms, it stated, should consider undertaking this exercise alongside further action including setting up and supporting mentoring and championing programmes, and committing to the pledges included in the Treasury’s Women in Finance charter. These included:
- Having one member of the senior executive team who is responsible for gender diversity and inclusion.
- Setting internal targets for gender diversity within senior management.
- Publishing annual reports on progress against internal targets on the company website.
- Having intention to ensure the salary of the senior executive team is linked to the delivery against internal targets on gender diversity.
Watt added: “While there are no quick fixes, firms need to demonstrate their commitment to identifying and removing obstacles that may be preventing women from rising to the top.
“Female leaders are not going to emerge overnight. Companies need to first identify and address barriers and to implement and embed a support structure that allows future female leaders to progress from junior management roles.”