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Women break down barriers to boost careers in finance

Women working in finance today are more confident and career-minded than any generation before them, but they still need support to reach their full potential. 

Many women left the financial sector during the recession and although recruitment has picked up there remains a lack of female senior executive across the banking, investment, asset management and FinTech sectors.

Women will be attracted to finance and stay in the industry if they feel valued and respected in the workplace. This means closing the gender pay gap and ensuring there are more female board members and women in c-suite roles.

There are some success stories, of course.

According to Lord Davies’ Women on Boards 2015 report, the number of women at the top table in some companies does now exceed 25 per cent.  They include HSBC Holdings (35.3 per cent), Royal Bank of Scotland Group (30.0 per cent) and Aberdeen Asset Management (28.6).

The future for women in the industry should also be bright if PWC’s 2015 report ‘The female millennial: A new era of talent’ is correct.

It outlines a more confident group of women coming into the sector, with 49% of female millennial career starters feeling they can rise to a top level with their current employer.

Yet the not for profit membership organisation Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF) says still more needs to be done to develop, showcase and retain female talent.

WIBF president Janet Thomas says that in a global market, business leaders and politicians can see the benefits of having a gender diverse workforce.

Many women working in finance are very positive and confident and just need advice on how to plan their career progression, WIBF provides mentoring programs which women see as a vital element to advance their careers.

The WIBF’s Personal Excellence Programme includes monthly workshops run by leading industry professionals with topics designed to boost professional and personal development alongside opportunities to network with their peers in the industry.

Men in the industry can play an important role too. BP Plc Group Treasurer Alan Haywood became the first man to win a WIBF Champion for Women award after questioning senior executives about the gender gap and creating a women’s group at BP’s London offices.

Thomas adds that negative perceptions of the industry must also be tackled.

“We give feedback to companies if we notice trends that appear to put women off,” she says. This year there was a reduction in the number of women leaving university and going into finance so there are still issues to address.”

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