Why banks are struggling to attract female leaders

Jessica Morris
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Just three per cent of chief executive officers according to Oliver Wyman (Source: Getty)

The world's leading banks are struggling to attract and retain the most talented female employees.

Management consultants Oliver Wyman, which looked at 150 major financial services companies worldwide, found just four per cent of chief executive officers and 13 per cent of executive committee members were women.

The "Women in Financial Services" report also found a growing divergence between female board representation and the number of women on executive committees.

Around 20 per cent of board members are women, which has grown by two thirds over the last 10 years. Female representation of executive committees lags at just 13 per cent and is increasing more slowly.

Michelle Daisley, partner at Oliver Wyman said:

The lack of diversity – both gender and otherwise – in our industry is bad for business.

Diversity improves decision-making, performance, sustainability, service and profits in the long-run.

Firms with less diverse management teams are less able to see issues from many angles. This is especially important for a sector that has recently suffered scandals attributed to unchallenged leadership and ‘groupthink’.

The pace of change is too slow.

What's wrong?

  • It is less than half as likely for a woman in financial services to progress from a middle to a senior level position as it is for a man. This is despite the relatively probability of junior female employees reaching the mid-level being nearly equal to men.
  • Female students have a more negative perception of the industry than their male counterparts. "Political", "risk-taking" and "arrogant" were the top five words used to describe the culture within the financial services sector by female students.
  • Only 35 per cent of women and 33 per cent of men agreed family obligations outside of work were recognised and supported by the financial services industry in general.

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