Report on gender diversity in European capital markets from think tank New Financial

With so much focus on gender diversity on the boards of big listed companies, we wanted to drill down into diversity across the financial markets by comparing 11 different sectors of the capital markets including banks, asset managers, hedge funds, investment banks and pension funds.

While the data shows on average women are under-represented at the highest levels of decision-making, the good news is there are signs of improvement since we collected the same data a year ago.

The highlights of the report are:

  • Gender DiversityNearly a quarter (23%) of board directors at companies and institutions in European capital markets are women, close to the Davies Review’s recommendation of 25% by 2015, and one in six (16%) executive committee members are female.
  • While the numbers are low, they are moving in the right direction. Boards have improved more quickly than excos – the percentage of women on boards has increased three percentage points to 23% compared to a year ago, and female representation on executive committees has risen by one percentage point to 16%. Nearly half (47%) of boards in our sample have increased female representation year-on-year as have a third (34%) of excos.
  • There is a big difference in levels of gender diversity between boards and executive committees (for example, at banks, average female representation on boards at 32% is nearly triple the levels on executive committees at just 12%).
  • The 23% figure for female representation on boards disguises the under-representation of women in executive directorships. The proportion of female non-execs (24%) is nearly twice that of female exec directors (13%).
  • Where women do sit on executive committees, they tend to be in support roles (seen as cost centres) rather than “profit and loss” functions (seen as revenue generating or profit centres). We found nearly two thirds of heads of comms (64%) and more than half of heads of HR (58%) on excos were women, but only 12% of heads of a division or region are female, and just 11% of the C-suite.
  • There is a wide range of gender diversity across different sectors in our sample (for example, average female representation on executive committees is lowest at 7% for private equity, rising to 30% for trade bodies).
  • If the capital markets industry set a voluntary target of 33% female representation on boards (like the Davies Review’s recommendation of 33% by 2020) it would take on average six years to achieve it, and if the industry chose a target of 25% for excos, it would take just over 10 years to achieve it (based on 2015 numbers of net new women appointed).
  • The percentage of companies with no women on their executive committees has fallen from 23% a year ago to 19%, but the most common figure for the percentage of women on executive committees is still zero.

Yasmine Chinwala, partner at New Financial and author of the report, said: “It is really encouraging to see the numbers are moving in the right direction, but the industry must continue to work hard to maintain this momentum and accelerate the pace of change. I firmly believe that this data can help inform the debate around women in financial services and challenge the industry to make progress.”

Alison Jefferis, head of corporate communications, EMEA & Asia at Columbia Threadneedle Investments which supported the report, said: “”We welcome this report, recognizing that gender data disclosure and debate are first steps towards improving diversity. As an industry we need a broader mix of thoughts, ideas and opinions if we are to understand and deliver the financial outcomes our clients expect. European capital markets serve a diverse population – we need to look and think more like our whole customer base, not just a part of it.”

You can download the full report here.

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