Women in Financial Services Blog

Motherhood and the Old Boys’ Network responsible for gender imbalance in Financial Markets

Motherhood and the Old Boys’ Network responsible for gender imbalance in Financial Markets

Tina.Freed / 16 Nov 2015

A recent UK government backed report urged that the bonuses of City executives should be linked to whether or not they meet targets for the number of senior women appointed at a firm.

The review of women in finance, led by the chief executive of Virgin Money, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, also recommended that financial services firms should report publicly on their gender diversity and appoint an executive responsible for gender, diversity and inclusion.

During a recent meeting at 11 Downing Street, Jayne-Anne was asked by the chancellor what could be done about the fact that fewer women get to the top in banking, fund management and insurance than in any other sector?

Jayne-Ann’s response included the following statements:

“In the City we are successful in delivering targets. Let’s think about how that delivery has worked successfully in financial returns, customer satisfaction, and environmental policy and see if we can apply it to gender progress and diversity. This is about women from the very beginning of their careers, this is about creating an environment where all women can become senior if that is want they want to do”

“The main reasons for the imbalance are well-known: motherhood, remuneration, the old boys’ network. Any job in financial services should not be out of the reach of women.”

Until firms publish statistics we can make some pretty accurate stabs at the gender balance of Financial Markets firms using LinkedIN. And they don’t make good reading. It would appear that the typical city institution has gender stats of 80% men and 20% Women.

Jayne-Ann suggests that motherhood and the old boys’ network are key contributors to this appalling state of affairs – but do they have to be?

Motherhood – lets put to one-side the Supremum’s who are full-time working mothers and at the very top of their City profession. They have children, a career, a great reputation and have proven that sexism in the City is on the way out and the glass ceiling has (or is) disappeared.

Thousands of women leave financial institutions every year, never to return to the industry, because they simply can’t balance the demands of a career and that of being a parent. You can’t resign from the later.

Flexible working, job shares, child care schemes and women returner programmes are having some positive impact, but is it enough? Could the industry be more imaginative?

E2W think it could. Cost cutting and risk reduction are at the top of the agenda for most banks today. Outsourcing to offshore locations in India and Eastern Europe once commonplace is now coming under the spot-light. Costs are never quite as low as had been predicted and with the ever watchful eye of the regulator the levels of risk are also being questioned.

E2W have shown that they can persuade those highly skilled and experienced women who have either already left the industry or are about to return, or continue their careers, if those careers can be undertaken locally ( commuting is an added problem for most mothers) and flexibly. A readymade, highly skilled, lower cost and risk, outsourcing location exists and it is less than 30 miles from Canary Wharf (and Manhattan).

Established for over ten years E2W have also seen that when the work life challenge is over Women who have been able to return or continue careers with E2W more often than not return to the City for phase three of their careers.

Finding innovative and imaginative ways to keep women in careers is the answer to the Motherhood Challenge.

The Old Boys Network. Christine Lagarde (Head of the IMF) posed a question in 2010: “What would have happened if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters?”

Women bring a number of attributes to the work place including different perspectives on risk taking and leadership. Organisations with a good gender balance out perform those that are male dominated.

Perhaps one of the most concerning and final vestiges of the old boys’ network is that of our Financial Services Consultancies. These firms are at the forefront of change within our banks, they are called upon not only to advise on change but to help implement it. But what is their gender balance?

E2W are showing that Consulting and Contracting provides an opportunity for many women to continue or return to careers. Our consultants are supplementing the male dominated line-ups of our competitors allowing our clients to build better performing teams -because they are more gender balanced – for business critical projects and initiatives.

E2W are a certified women owned and run financial services consultancy. From the outset E2W sought to tap into the significant resource pool of women who had typically left the city when they were ‘excluded’ from financial institutions because these firms could not offer work-life integration. E2W created an environment that enables this extraordinary resource to become productive once more.

Why not contact E2W on +44 (0)1732 897708 or visit their website www.E2W.co

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