We recently came across a very enlightening report by Deloittes as part of their Insight series and the 100 Women in Finance organisation in the US about achieving gender equity in financial services leadership.

The report believes that in the US, the proportion of women in leadership roles within financial services firms currently sits at 21.9 percent , and is projected to grow over the next decade to 31 percent. These figure, which albeit still below parity bearing in mind that women are now in the majority of financial services industry employees, do show that positive actions have been taken and are working.

We know and have covered in the past how diversity within firms has been shown to drive innovation and increase productivity and that Gender diversity, in particular at the leadership level, has even been linked to boosts in profitability. Therefore the gender imbalance in leadership at the top in financial services could be a missed opportunity for many companies. In fact a recent Harvard study revealed that females outscored men in 17 of 19 leadership capabilities, many of which were noted in the survey as requirements for leading in the future. Some of the areas where women were perceived to excel at include taking initiative, building relationships, collaboration and teamwork, leadership speed, powerful and prolific communication, and innovation. Today, more women enjoy longer, more satisfying, and more senior-level careers in financial services, and the industry is stronger, in part, for their collective presence and contributions.

A closer examination of C-suite titles also revealed a subset of roles that have mostly emerged within the last decade; for example, chief data officer, chief sustainability officer, chief inclusion officer, chief diversity officer, and chief digital officer.

Females account for approximately one-third of these emerging leadership roles. Therefore we believe that organisations should consider rethinking their strategies to improve leadership outcomes for women. One of the key ways they can do that is by making intentional efforts specifically aligned to growing the share of women in leadership roles. Only then might greater gender diversity in leadership be within reach. It is important to acknowledge the progress that has been made over the past two decades. The financial services industry has witnessed a slow but steady rise in the proportion of women serving in leadership positions. The efforts that financial services institutions have made to attract and retain women for these positions can be clearly seen in this rise in leadership.

Tapping into talent – the multiplier effect

Studies show that in having a greater number of women in the C-suite creates a positive effect on the number of women in senior leadership; it is believed that for there is a threefold increase in senior leadership for each additional woman added to the C-suite.

“She did not mentor me. She did not sponsor me. But she absolutely inspired me. Because she was there. It was like seeing someone break the four-minute mile for the first time and forever after just knowing that it could be done” 

Improving transparency 

A key area in which the Women in Finance Charter covers is improved reporting. Actionable, measurable, and transparent diversity policies signal to employees, clients, and the broader community that attracting, retaining, and advancing women are priorities.

Support mentorships and investing in programs to support women re-entering the industry

Companies should not underestimate the power of support and the value of networks in advancing women. We know from talking to clients and candidates alike that both mentorship and sponsorship have often been instrumental to employee retention, higher employee success rates, and promotion readiness. Women are also far more likely than men to pause their careers to address family needs, pursue additional education, or for any number of other reasons. Many companies now are promoting “Returnship” programs to encourage this often highly skilled demographic back into employment

“I would encourage anyone who is keen to ensure their hiring strategies support diversity to get in touch. We pride ourselves in our ability to source candidates from diverse backgrounds and are happy to share best practice with our clients in attraction and retention of a diverse workforce”

Tracy Fletcher – Campbell & Fletcher Recruitment

If you have any questions please do not hesitate one of our team here.