Bankers say 'no' to quotas for senior women in the City
72% of investment bank and hedge fund staff do not believe that there should be quotas for the number of women at board level, says Astbury Marsden, the leading financial services recruiter.
According to Astbury Marsden’s research, an even higher number (76%) say that there is no need for quotas for women at Vice President level or above.
However, only one in ten City workers polled say that financial institutions do enough already to attract and retain talented women.
The findings come amidst a fierce debate in the EU about how best to redress the gender balance on company boards. The EU recently launched a three month consultation on how to encourage businesses to hire more women at board level.
Across UK businesses, women in senior roles remain rare:
- Figures published this month show that the percentage of women on FTSE-100 boards stood at 15% in the last year
- Only 6.1% of FTSE-100 executive directors are women
- 4.4% of executive directors at FTSE-250 companies are women*
Melissa Stierwalt, who led the survey, comments: “The City is largely opposed to setting quotas for women in senior positions – they worry this will undermine what is meant to be a fairly ruthless meritocracy.”
“There are very few jobs left in financial institutions where intelligence, work ethic and capability do not trump how clubbable an employee is. The need to be blind to gender is engrained throughout recruitment policy across the City.”
“However, more may need to done to shake off the perception that the City is male-dominated and our poll shows that bankers do expect their employers to take more practical steps to encourage female workers into senior roles.”
“Financial institutions expect their workforce to put in a lot of extra hours, which makes it extremely difficult to balance a career in the City with a family home life. Whilst that deters both men and women it appears to be more of a deterrent to women, leading to a smaller female workforce at the more senior level.”
“In the UK the bulk of childcare responsibilities are still taken on by women and that seems a long way from changing.”
“Some experts believe that the debate about imposing quotas for women at a senior level obscures the real barriers to women reaching senior executive levels, such as the lack of flexible working hours and limited investment in childcare by employers.”
“The Government should be looking at what role it can play in lowering the costs of childcare, either through more generous tax breaks or other tools.”
Melissa Stierwalt gives the example of Finland where low cost childcare or homecare payments are available to all families.
Adds Melissa Stierwalt : “The cost of childcare, even as a percentage of City salaries, can be a real disincentive for women to return to their careers.”
How to attract more women to senior roles in the City
According to Astbury Marsden, 57% of respondents said that flexible working hours would attract more women to work in the City. Other measures to increase the number of female bankers include:
- Assistance with childcare (16%)
- Promote less male environment (13%)
- Dedicated support network (4%)
Melissa Stierwalt comments: “The challenge for the banks, who are facing very tough trading conditions, is to find measures that work that they can afford. For example, flexible working might help banks to retain talented women, but is it practical to install a Bloomberg terminal in every worker’s home?”
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