Tuesday 24 November 2020 4:52 pm WIBF Talk

94% of men and 93% of women working in financial services state their job can be done via flexible working

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New research commissioned by Women in Banking & Finance (WIBF), shows that 94% of males and 93% of females currently working in financial and professional state their job can be done flexibly in terms of location without impacting their performance.

This compares to 54% and 75% in responses of past employees. The survey-based research is likely explained by the effect of the actual experience during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The survey of nearly 2000 financial services professionals, conducted by The Wisdom Council, a financial services consumer insight and engagement specialist, and The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), also found that women are significantly more likely to see barriers in their careers than men (79% versus 58%) and that women and men in this study do not differ in ambition and are leaning in equally for opportunities. However, women still see worse outcomes. 

The survey was conducted during the pandemic and highlights the opportunity for change the COVID-19 crisis presents. There is more that unites men and women than divides them. 

Those with more flexibility in where they work and how they work, also work longer hours, are more satisfied and exhibit a lower intention to leave. This aligns well with other credible evidence that heightened flexibility leads to greater productivity and happier workers.

These observations are worth exploring further, and at this time of reorganisation of work we should focus on actions that will allow all workers to thrive.

This inaugural survey will inform the second phase of the WIBF ACT Research Programme to be conducted in the first half of 2021 by Dr Grace Lordan, Associate Professor in Behavioural Science, LSE. The final report due in May 2021 will included suggested actions which partner firms will take forward and measure.

Dr. Lordan says:

“A silver lining of the pandemic is that it has directly caused a re-organisation of work which can benefit women. Right now, women who avail of flexible working often suffer the knock-on effects that they are considered less career focused. The idea that flexible working can be productivity enhancing for the firm is often lost. If we get the re-organisation of work right the new status quo might move us a way from a false narrative that presenteeism equals added value, to the benefit of women’s progression and retention.”

The findings of the survey as interpreted in the accompanying report show that workers are divided by gender in their perceptions of equality. There is a lot to be gained from creating a common definition of equality in the financial and professional services, that is linked to measurable outcomes. This allows investments in diversity and inclusion to be evaluated, and for firms to avoid wasting money on interventions that do not work.

The average women in this study perceive they will suffer penalties if they make a mistake, whereas men see them as learning opportunities. This is a key area for future research, to help us understand more the experiences of mistakes of women and men in financial and professional services. 

Anna Lane, CEO and Founder, The Wisdom Council says:

“Many of the themes that emerge from this report about women in financial services echo those we see in our consumer research.  Women are ambitious for themselves, their families and networks, and work plays an important part in their lives.   As an industry we must strive to improve how we tap into that ambition to deliver better outcomes not just for all employees but also for our clients.”  

Vivienne Artz, President & CEO, WIBF says:

“The Accelerating Change Together Research Programme is an exciting thought leadership initiative for Women in Banking & Finance to demonstrate how we can apply a gender lens to insight to drive business opportunities and change for the financial services sector. A huge thank you to the London School of Economics and Political Science, The Wisdom Council and our Sponsors and Supporters for your insights, expertise and support on this ground-breaking and timely work, as we explore new ways of working post the global pandemic.”

You can Join us on Thursday 26th November for a Virtual Market Open at London Stock Exchange to celebrate WIBF’s 40th Anniversary and to hear initial research insights from the launch of the WIBF Accelerating Change Together (ACT) Research Programme.

We will hear first-hand, initial research insights from WIBF’s Accelerating Change Together (ACT) Research Programme. This will be followed by a distinguished panel exploring key themes from different perspectives.

Join this session to hear from Elise Badoy, Head of Research, WIBF, and Deputy Head of Research EMEA, Citi, as she presents key data insights from the inaugural survey, and to hear from our panel as they discuss these data learnings.

Featured Speakers:

David Schwimmer, CEO of London Stock Exchange Group and a member of the Board of LSEG plc

Elise Badoy, Head of Research, WIBF & Deputy Head of Research EMEA, Citi


Dr Grace Lordan, Associate Professor in Behavioural Science, London School of Economics and Political Science

Alison Malton, Director of the Wisdom Council

Vivienne Artz, Women in Banking & Finance, President & CEO


You can join us for this free event by booking your place here