A new survey on gender diversity in financial services reveals striking differences in women’s and men’s views on the extent of gender inequality in their workplaces.
It also calls for men to play a role in promoting gender equality in the workplace.
The industry-wide survey was conducted by Money20/20 and Visa to gain a greater understanding of gender dynamics and perceptions across companies within the financial services ecosystem.
It polled 751 mid-to-senior-level professionals, both men and women, in the financial services industry in the US, asking them about everything from salaries and promotions, to their level of comfort in raising gender issues at work.
While women and men could agree on what the key gender equity issues are – such as leadership and pay equality – their opinions on how bad the situation is differ remarkably.
For example, women are much less optimistic than their male counterparts about change at senior levels: where 68% of male respondents believe the number of women in senior roles will increase in the next 2 to 3 years, only 45% of women believe this to be the case.
Meanwhile, 52% of men answered that the promotion and advancement of women into senior roles is a priority in their organisation, while just 36% of women see it this way.
Men generally also feel more comfortable raising issues related to gender inequality or salary, with many women not wanting to be labelled as complainers or potentially facing negative consequences for doing so.
“There is no point in raising those issues. It can only damage my position doing so,” one female respondent said.
Another commented on the lack of change at senior levels: “Our top management consists of older men, who do not see the benefit in battling gender inequality. It’s a top-down approach; if the ‘top’ doesn’t believe it’s an issue, it will continue.”
On pay equality, 69% of men said they believe women and men are paid equally for the same job within their organisation. Only 28% of women agreed with this assessment.
Meanwhile, women feel that men are favoured in meetings and are more likely to ask for promotions.
Finally, when asked what it will take to change the status quo, both genders (91% of women and 84% of men) said they feel strongly that men should play a role in promoting gender equality in the workplace.
Some also expressed the wish for organisations to rethink their strategy on gender diversity, including setting specific targets.
“Gender diversity should be one of the goals and focus points,” said one respondent. “Not just for the sake of having it, we should start creating metrics and ensure there is significant progress and improvement year over year. Companies should start targeting a year (for example: 2020 or so) to ensure by that year they will be able to address this completely. Else it will be an open item forever.”
The survey was launched as part of a new programme run by Money20/20 and Visa, called Rise-Up, an initiative to address the gender imbalance in leadership positions within the financial services and fintech industry. The aim is to conduct the survey annually to benchmark whether the industry’s talk of change is actually resulting in a more inclusive environment.
Readers interested in the topic of gender diversity and inclusion, are encouraged to check out GTR’s Women in Trade Finance initiative, which includes interviews with some of the industry’s leading women and videos from our Women in Trade Finance events.