At current pace we won't hit 30 per cent female representation at executive committee level in financial services until 2048

Billy Bambrough
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Jayne-Anne Gadhia, once dubbed the “first lady of UK finance”, has been the chief executive of Virgin Money since 2007 (Source: Getty)

The battle for equality in the financial services boardroom is struggling to make progress globally.

Only one-fifth (20 per cent) of company boards and 16 per cent of executive committees in financial services are comprised of women, according to a report from management consultancy, Oliver Wyman.

This is only a slight improvement in both categories since the report was last published in 2014. Two years ago it was found that female representation on executive committees stood at 13 per cent and was increasing at a slower rate than board membership.

At current progress it's expected to take until 2048 for executive committees in the financial services industry globally to reach 30 percent female representation.

Read more: Too few women get to the top in the finance industry. It's time to change that

This is the level at which research suggests a minority’s voice comes to be heard in its own right and the target various groups are working towards for female board representation.

It was found that currently women have the highest representation on executive committees in Norway and Sweden, with Japan and South Korea needing the greatest improvement.

Ted Moynihan, managing partner of financial services, at Oliver Wyman, said:

The industry is far from where it should be on gender balance. We hope that this second report will advance the discussion – delving deeper into it, raising awareness and supporting much needed change in the industry.

An organization’s key business and strategic decisions are made by its executive committee and they are also highly visible, both internally and externally, making them effective as role models and sponsors – and driving business success.

A separate report today also revealed that female executive committee members at UK financial services firms are woefully under represented.

Think tank New Financial found typically women make up just 14 per cent of total executive committees, compared to female representation of 23 per cent among board directors at the same companies.

The Oliver Wyman report also found that female executives in financial services are 20-30 per cent more likely to leave their employer than their peers in other industries.

The data and responses suggest that many women face a mid-career conflict and a less attractive so-called career trade off than men – with insufficient flexible working hours and support for family responsibilities, persistent views of shortcoming regarding promotion and equal pay, and unconscious bias.

Read more: The ultimate City power breakfast with Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Jean Stephens, Natalie Campbell and Caroline Makepeace

Pstrid Jaekel, Oliver Wyman partner said:

Diversity must be seen as a commercial imperative rather than just as part of corporate social responsibility or fairness in the workplace.

Gender balance provides access to the full talent pool, better decision making by bringing together different perspectives, better services to customers by better representing them, and a stronger economy.

Organisations need to advance women by offering bolder structural solutions to the mid-career conflict outlined in this report, creating the right working arrangements and fostering more profound cultural change.