Is the trade finance industry favouring men by rewarding certain behaviours – such as risk-willingness and competitiveness – over others?

This is just one of several hypotheses explored by Grace Lordan, associate professor in behavioural science at the London School of Economics, in her study of gender gaps in certain industries. Lordan was invited as a guest speaker at the latest GTR Women in Trade Finance event in London, held on November 15.

“We have some stylised facts about the average women. Women have higher levels of risk aversion than males. Women shy away from competition more often. Women are more intrinsically motivated and more co-operative,” Lordan told the audience, which comprised both women and men from the industry.

“Now, people get really annoyed when I say these things, and I don’t know why. I don’t know why people think it’s worse that the average woman is more co-operative. I like to work with co-operative people,” she said, emphasising that it is telling of a culture that places values on behaviour of an average man.

Her presentation was followed by a panel debate with Francisca Michielsen, divisional director for international and working capital at Santander, and Davinder Mann, head of legal at UK Export Finance, as well as wide-ranging audience input and a vivid debate around how to future-proof the industry.

In this video, GTR speaks to Lordan about her research and asks Michielsen and Mann what recruitment strategy they implement to build a diverse team.