What is being done by financial companies on women returning to work from maternity leave?
Tina.Freed / 18 Aug 2015
In 2015 research shows the proportion of women in global financial services in senior management roles fell below 25% according to Grant Thornton’s Women in Business report (which covers 35 countries, including emerging markets and 155 companies within the finance services sector). In 2014 this was 29%, this highlights a 4% drop year on year.
“The longer you stay out, the more difficult it is to keep a job open,” says Sam Smith, chief executive of FinnCap, a City broker, recently returned to work after a five-month maternity break.
So what is being done to try and counteract this 4% loss of women in the working financial world?
Investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse are addressing the problem in London. Morgan Stanley runs a paid, 12-week, return-to-work programme, aimed at people looking to retool their strengths, hone their expertise and focus their skills in a new positive direction. In February 2014, the firm selected 15 inaugural candidates. More than 60% of the graduates were placed in full-time positions. Ailsa Saltrese, European Head of Morgan Stanley’s lateral recruiting team told the Evening Standard “There’s an untapped pool of highly qualified individuals who have a career break while caring for their families, and we want them back”.
Morgan Stanley also has maternity coaching and support systems for returnees and their managers to help women manage maternity leave. It helps to build confidence after childbirth and provides mentoring. A period of 150 hours of free, back-up childcare cover is also available.
Deutsche Bank also provides maternity/paternity coaching Programmes to parents and managers before and after a career break.
Eileen Taylor, global head of diversity at Deutsche Bank, says: “In order to attract and retain the talent, it’s very important we create a culture where people feel supported in the life decisions they make. Deutsche Bank is pleased to be recognized by Top Employers for Working Families.”
Deutsche Bank runs its scheme in the US, UK, Germany and the Asia-Pacific region. However, these Programmes are limited in terms of global reach, particularly in emerging economies in Latin America.
The Malaysia office of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), is working with the government and the accountancy profession on women in leadership, and has identified that career breaks are one of the main stumbling blocks when climbing the career ladder.
Sharron Gunn, ICAEW commercial executive director, says: “There is a career break problem in Malaysia, where women take time off to have a family but return to work to find they have missed vital developments, promotions and opportunities. This is particularly an issue for financial services.”
To bring back the Malaysian professionals living abroad TalentCorp has created a “Returning Expert Programme” (REP) the agency created by the Malaysian government has set up “flexWorkLife”, which is a network for employers to share best practice on flexible working and develop return-to-work initiatives.
In India many companies are also introducing return-to-work schemes to keep women in touch with their colleagues during their maternity leave, as trends and skills change quickly.
Shachi Irde, India executive director of Catalyst, a non-profit organization, supports and encourages women to return to work after having a child. It is a two-way street, the companies need to focus on establishing support systems such as subsidies, allowances and affordable childcare options. For women, they need to stay ahead in the workforce and assess their family life and reflect on their career aspirations and become champions on work-life integration.
So there does appear to be some support following a career break with some investment banks in London and they are proving to have a positive effect in encouraging women to put their best foot forward in some instances.
However, why is there not more effort to help India and Latin America?
Annabel Smith, head of diversity for EMEA from Morgan Stanley, said they are considering the possibility of starting the programme in India in 2016. “It makes sense to focus on our bigger hubs first and not, at the moment, in regions such as Latin America where we have a smaller presence,”
In some of the smaller emerging market hubs, in the Middle East, Africa and Hungary, women and their managers take part in the return to work programme by webinar, says Ms Smith.
“As an industry, we do not have a lot of senior women. Although the numbers are moving, they are not moving at the speed we would like,” says Ms Smith.
“Coming back needs support and flexible time and the finance sector needs to be more open to working flexible hours,” she adds
If you’re interested in finding out more about how flexible working can assist with your career prospects or looking for support in finding an exceptional person for your next flexible financial role: CLICK HERE Or call: 01732 897728
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