Why Supporting Gender Inclusion May Improve Diversity and Equality in Financial Services?

By Association for Diversity in Financial Talent

Why Is Recognizing Diversity Not Enough?

Women in the financial services workforce remain dramatically underrepresented, particularly at leadership levels.

LeanIn.Org report revealed a flawed talent management process where women are not progressing up the career ladder in massive numbers, resulting in significant inequality at the top. While over half of entry-level financial services professionals are women, that percentage decreases as roles become more senior, especially for women of color. Representation of Asian, Black, and Latina women falls by 80 percent between entry-level and the C-suite.

Furthermore, for every 100 men promoted to managerial roles in the financial services field, only 86 women achieved the same milestone. The PwC study found that 70 percent of financial service female Millennial employees perceived inequality of opportunities as a reality; half-believed promotions were biased in favor of men.

Diversity Hurdles Are Still Prevalent in the Financial Service Industry

Despite the financial services industry acknowledging the importance of diversity, the above statistics indicate they still have a long way to go in achieving equal opportunities for women. The same is true when it comes to employees of color. An analysis of racial demographics at 13 major U.S. banks reported that “workers of color are more likely to hold entry-level positions than white colleagues and face decreasing odds of holding professional, mid-level, and senior managerial roles.”

Recognizing areas for improvement regarding DE&I and taking actionable steps to improve are two different things. Financial institutions need to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace by aligning diversity strategies with business objectives. It’s important to note the intersectionality between gender, race, and other inclusion characteristics. Any efforts to improve inclusivity for women in the workplace may be beneficial for improving diversity and equality more broadly.

Fix the Broken Rung in the Ladder

Women in financial services continue to experience a broken rung at the first step from entry-level to manager and are significantly less likely than men to be promoted. The result is a long-term negative impact on women and their ability to progress through the talent pipeline. When women are not promoted from junior levels, it creates a challenge to equalize gender diversity at senior levels.

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