The scale of the challenge to get women into top jobs in finance revealed
A comprehensive new independent report outlining the scale of the challenge facing women trying to reach senior positions in finance has been released today.
Tackling the seniority gap between men and women: what works for the insurance and long-term savings sector, commissioned by the ABI examines in detail the obstacles that prevent women from reaching leadership positions in the insurance and savings sector.
The report, prepared by research firm Public First, concludes that the main reason for the seniority gap is work patterns associated with motherhood.
And he says that to substantially reduce this gap, it needs to be easier for part-timers or formerly part-timers to move up.
The report says this means making more senior jobs explicitly available on a part-time basis, making job sharing easier and more attractive, and faster opportunities for advancement for women who used to work part-time. once they return to full-time work.
The report also states that sexism is best tackled through organizational overhaul, not training, with ways to achieve this including better use of interviews to make them more structured and capability-based rather than a ” free form”.
It concludes that research on the impact of training to “remove” bias is unconvincing and that there is a lack of evidence that anti-bias training leads to a systematic increase in promotion or a reduction in the gender gap.
He also indicates that the insurance and long-term savings industry has implemented a large number of measures in this regard, as have other sectors.
But there is little correlation, he says, between the interventions companies use and what can demonstrably work.
Amanda Blanc, President of the Association of British Insurers, said: “This report shows that mothers still face a huge challenge to progress in their careers when they return to work.
“We want to speed this up and the evidence shows that tackling the ‘maternity penalty’ may be the best way to do this.
“While I have no doubt that many people at the top of the industry are fully committed to change, it is simply not good enough that in 2018 there are 60% fewer women on the board. administration than at the entry level.
“To change that, we need to focus on interventions that work, not what makes us feel like we’re trying. Only then will we begin to see the seniority gap close.
Huw Evans, ABI Chief Executive, said: “The ABI commissioned this report following a roundtable with the CEOs of our member companies.
“They were interested in the answers to two questions; What practical measures will help bring more women into leadership positions and what interventions make the biggest difference?
“There is a lot in this research to engage with and I am grateful to Public First for their in-depth analysis.
“We have a lot to consider here and we will work through the recommendations with the members before deciding on next steps.
“Our future as a successful and prosperous industry depends to a large extent on our success.”
Rachel Wolf, founding partner of Public First, said: “We know that big corporations like insurance companies want to make sure women rise as high as their abilities allow.
“Our research revealed that the biggest obstacle for women was becoming a parent. So it makes sense that this is what big companies should target first.
“If companies can take concrete steps to make it easier for parents to combine having children and pursuing their careers, this could be a way to generate truly positive outcomes for women in a sustainable way.”
Inga Beale was the first female chief executive of Lloyds of London, the commercial insurance market. She is one of a handful of women who have held the highest positions in the industry.