Research highlights gender gap in senior financial service roles

13 Jun 16

Almost one in four board directors of UK financial services firms are women, although only one in seven executive committee members are female, research has revealed.

The New Financial think-tank collected data from 200 financial companies across 12 sectors including banking, asset management, private equity and hedge funds.

Its analysis showed that, where women sat on executive committees, they tended to be in support roles such as human resources or communications, rather than positions with profit and loss functions.

Relatively good representation of women at board level disguises problems at executive level, New Financial suggested. The proportion of female non-executives is 27%, nearly four times that of female executive board directors (7%).

Yasmine Chinwala, partner at New Financial and report author, said: “The data clearly shows that, without an active focus on improving gender balance in the executive pipeline, it just won’t happen.

“Companies need to work out for themselves why diversity is strategically important to their business.”

She cited Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia’s review of women’s representation in senior roles in the financial services industry and the Treasury’s recent Women in Finance Charter. Together they provided a framework for companies and firms to make decisive changes, Chinwala said.

Commenting on New Financial’s findings, Gadhia said: “Too few women get to the top so they leave the industry prematurely because the culture isn’t right, and this needs to change.

“The social and economic benefits of fairness, equality and inclusion are clear, and getting the gender balance right is proven beyond doubt to enable companies to drive superior results. Financial institutions must embrace diversity in their organisation to reap the benefits and help create a more balanced and fair financial services industry.”

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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