Gender is still a barrier to jobs

Kasmira Jefford
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FINANCIAL services firms are making more effort than ever before to promote gender diversity, yet two thirds of women working in financial services still say their gender makes it harder for them to succeed, new research reveals.

The annual Women in Finance survey from Financial News, published today, shows that of the 650 women questioned, 66 per cent said their gender had a bearing on the likelihood of them having a successful career.

Some 61 per cent said they needed to work harder than their male counterparts in order to be viewed at the same level of achievement by their managers, and more than half (52 per cent) said they felt they had suffered gender discrimination in their workplace.

Lord Davies of Abersoch, who launched a review in February last year to promote greater gender diversity in the boardroom, said companies should aim for their boards to be at least 25 per cent female by 2015.

At the time, 12.5 per cent of board-level positions at FTSE 100 companies were held by females. A recent report by Cranfield school of management found that women now occupy 16 per cent – still significantly below the target – while 11 FTSE 100 firm still do not have any women on their boards.

Financial News’ survey – which also encompasses women at firms across Europe and the US – said there is evidence that financial services companies are working harder to address gender diversity at board level.

More than half (56 per cent) of respondents said their company had women on their board, up from 44 per cent last year, while 17 per cent said their firm had launched initiatives to increase female representation at board level, up from 14 per cent last year.

“While top-level management is largely convinced that change is necessary, more work needs to be done to ensure the message is reaching down through all levels of management”, said Yasmine Chinwala, executive editor of special reports for Financial News.

“Companies and managers have to work out why gender diversity is beneficial for their business, rather than it simply being the right thing to do politically.”

Nearly two-thirds of women surveyed were not in favour of legislated quotas when it came to pay, but 87 per cent overwhelmingly said governments should compel companies to conduct equal pay audits.

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