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Banking sector 'in transition period'


In the banking and finance sector, women are still struggling from a lack of visibility, making them less likely to be considered for the top roles, according to associate dean at the London Business School Wendy Alexander.

Speaking to the Financial Times, she cited the recent Hollywood films that featured the financial sector - including The Wolf of Wall Street and Blue Jasmine - where female bankers were nowhere to be seen.

While this may not be a major factor in the ongoing struggle for gender parity in the sector, it is clear that cultural and attitudinal shifts are crucial if women workers are to be given the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

Stereotypes continue to reinforce the notion that men are better suited to the rough-and-tumble of the trading floor, leaving female finance professionals confined to roles within HR.

"Finance is in a period of transition and there's a lot of soul-searching about how risk is collateralised and managed and about the role of incentives," added Ms Alexander.

Women are beginning to emerge as role models within the industry as firms attempt to change their approach, with the idea of becoming more collaborative and adhering more closely to regulatory frameworks in order to avoid falling foul of stricter legislation.

Early results from business-backed diversity campaign Opportunity Now show that 53 per cent of women aged between 28 and 40 working in the financial services industry feel men earn more than their female counterparts, despite sharing similar levels of expertise and talent. Only 28 per cent feel that pay levels are the same.

Just 29 per cent believe the opportunities to advance are fair and equal between women who have children and those who do not, the organisation found.

Jena Abernathy, senior partner of executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, declared: "If I gave anyone any advice, I would say reach across the table and learn everything about your organisation and take on tough assignments - jobs that give you a cross-functional platform - and take roles that are visible."

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