Women in Finance – 2017

The FD’s and CFO’s of today tend to be predominately male, and that seems to be the case regardless of the geographical reach or nature of the business in question.

Take for example the prestigious Fortune 500 – an array of businesses including everything from tech firms, to major hoteliers, to luxury retailers. And of those 500 companies, a total of 90% of CFOs are men.

Speaking recently on the topic our Non-Executive Director, Jonathan Warnock, said that although there are of course ‘prominent figureheads and role models’, the truth is that there are just 11 female CFOs in the FTSE100, and the proportion of female Board Directors across Yorkshire’s top 250 companies remains at a miserly 17%.

Recent research carried out by our own executive search arm, Parkinson Lee, also found that the proportion of female Finance Directors within its network of 3168 comes in at just 16%; and the proportion of women on our Senior Finance Forum is 9%.

A recent article from the Financial Times also revealed that despite the fact that one in four junior staff working in financial services are female, only one in four who reach a senior role are female! Data which reveals that the share of women ‘plunges dramatically’ as employees move up through the ranks of an institution.

When the stats are presented in black and white such as this, they simply can’t be argued with; but why aren’t more women at the top in the finance industry despite significant investment in trying to attract them and entry-level ambitions being largely the same as those of men in the industry?

Is it possible that the visible lack of female leadership, and therefore role models, in the sector is behind why women don’t progress up the career ladder in the same way as men? Or perhaps the misconception (and yet long perpetuated belief) that women don’t typically possess attributes such as ruthlessly focusing on revenue and billable hours is to blame!

Whatever the cause, there are some stats which might suggest significant change is afoot – including this year's list of the Forbes' World's Most Powerful Women which shows that three of the top 10 control, direct or manipulate the world's wealth.

And of a total 100 women on the ranking, 17 are financiers.

Just over a year ago the British Government also implemented a ‘Women in Finance Charter’, marking a commitment by HM Treasury and signatory firms to work together to build a more balanced and fair industry – with firms that sign up pledging to be the best businesses in the sector.  

The Charter is dedicated to supporting the progression of women into senior roles in the financial services sector by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level by going as far as to have one member of the senior executive team who is responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion.

And whilst progress in the sector may be slow, there is a general sense that they are most welcome (and long overdue) within the industry itself, and the next set of figures revealing the % of senior roles filled by women will be received with much interest!

ARTICLE: Women still miss out on management in finance: https://ig.ft.com/managements-missing-women-data/

Women in finance charter: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/women-in-finance-charter

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