The Gender Barriers in Financial Services

‘Women are still being overlooked’

By Eve Maddock-Jones

Half of women say they have experienced barriers to their career within financial services because of factors such as pregnancy and menopause, a recent study has found.

Simplify Consulting published research into the gender pay gap and experiences and found the ‘glass ceiling’ was still ever-present for women in financial services.

The survey was carried out across 100 women working in financial services and over 100 female students. It found 34% of participants experienced regular gender discrimination while 52% felt they were paid differently due to gender.

Another statistic showed company support on these problems was lacking, with 74% of women saying that when they raised gender-related issues with their employers, unsatisfactory action was taken.

Founder and director of Simplify Consulting Kate Monserrate told Investment Week the most striking finding was that seven in ten experienced men recruiting male friends or male colleagues.

“That is the statistic that really stood out for me. When are we going to recruit based on skills, capability, experience and attitude, rather than gender? It is 2022 and we should be building inclusive businesses to drive diversity and creative thinking; to represent the customer demographic across gender, sex and race.

“We must challenge ourselves from education to recruitment and employment, to promotion and opportunity, to ensure we are representing the very people our businesses are serving. When are we going to learn and more importantly, change?

“That is why we are calling for action and asking everyone to be brave, as change starts with bravery.”

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The wealth and asset management specialist noted an overarching theme of women lacking confidence and experiencing ‘imposter syndrome’ in male-dominated industries.

“With gender bias clearly stemming from school days, it is clear that women, companies and male allies within financial services will need to exercise courage in redressing the imbalance that is obviously still present today,” it said.

Given that factor, the survey included female students and asked how or if these gender dynamics were shaping their career outlooks.

Several responded that they felt dissuaded from joining male-dominated industries. One participant said: “I was made to feel that pursuing a career in engineering would be very difficult and unpleasant in a very male world.”

Monserrate added that gender stereotyping appeared to be commonplace, with just 19% of female students wanting to consider a career in financial services.

“In the workplace, women are still being overlooked for simply wanting to have a family or going through unavoidable life-changing events like the menopause. The financial services industry is, in the main, inflexible in the face of these events. Something has to give…and all too often it is the career aspirations of women.”

Simplify Consulting has pledged a manifesto for change, calling for education and careers advice while promoting gender neutrality at a younger age.

Within financial services, they asked for people to “be brave enough to drive a cultural shift across the industry”, debunking the taboo topics and stigma around things such as menopause and calling out gender related issues. 

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