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Improving the role of women in finance


Ahead of International Women's Day on 8th March, the debate over the role of female professionals within the financial services industry has continued, with experts suggesting more needs to be done to create a level playing field in the sector.

Fiona Woolf, Lord Mayor of the City of London, highlighted some positives - Lloyds Bank recently announced an initiative that hopes to put female staff in 40 per cent of senior roles by 2020, while 20 per cent of FTSE 100 board members are now women.

However, writing in the Guardian, she called for further measures to ensure that discrimination and lack of opportunities does not stifle talented female financiers keen to progress in their careers.

She warned against relying too much on quotas, pointing out that simply "cherry-picking" a handful of female staff to reach the top is a superficial approach that will not help bring about structural change within the sector.

Instead firms should "tackle the underlying issues that are deterring advancement", developing a strong pipe-line of talent that ensures people from all backgrounds can succeed whatever their gender.

"Encouraging diversity in senior roles ensures we avoid the groupthink of people from the same background. It ensures that different viewpoints are heard and discussed, and that we live in a true meritocracy," declared Ms Woolf.

In today's global world a lack of diversity can be fatal and lead to firms falling behind their counterparts, largely because of a lack of innovation and creativity within senior roles, she concluded.

Helen Brands of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants also called on the world of finance to develop its diversity levels ahead of the international celebration.

Last year, Marks Sattin found that the pay gap between male and female accountants increases by an average of £1,000 over the first ten years of their career.

After the ten year period, the overall gap widens to a worrying level of £26,000.

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