The importance of role models and policy in encouraging more women to pursue careers in the finance sector

Diverse old and young female colleagues talking at work, african and caucasian business women sitting together in office having friendly conversation, mentor intern discussing planning shared project, MenopauseWith International Women’s Day almost here, it’s important that we celebrate the accomplishments and successes of women in all industries.

This is especially relevant when taking into account the disproportionate number of women who currently hold leadership roles within the finance sector.

In 2020, it was reported that the proportion of women in senior management roles was just 29% and in 2021, the proportion of women in leadership roles within financial service firms was 24%.

Clearly, the finance sector is dominated by men, with one of the potential reasons for this being that women aren’t encouraged enough to pursue roles in the sector. Despite legislation and social changes making these roles more accessible to women than ever before, it is clear that more needs to be done.

While better corporate maternity policies and an active celebration of female CEOs and managing directors can serve as positive representation in a largely male-dominated field, it’s still business-critical that more progress is made to allow for equal representation of business leaders across the industry.

So, how can this be done?

Joanna Scott, the managing director at BOOST&Co argues that women still have to strive too hard to secure top positions in finance organisations and discusses how this can be changed by the way businesses are managed. The piece will explore the importance of both celebrating female success while ensuring businesses are inclusive and accommodating in their policies. Doing so could welcome the best female talent into the sector and work to balance the gender representation across the sector.

The importance of female role-models

While legislative changes have made the workplace a more equally accessible place for women from all walks of life, it’s just as important to improve upon the social aspect of business as well as construct a visible and attainable business ladder through role-models.

Ensuring that the women who are holding the high ranking jobs and are leading teams to be the best they can be, can provide visible proof that the finance sector is an industry that they can thrive and succeed in.

This mutual understanding and relatability is needed to inspire women to aim high and becomes increasingly relevant when taking other factors into consideration, like raising a family alongside working. Building respect for successful women who have had to work just as hard as men, if not harder, is one of the best ways to encourage women to join the finance sector, especially when considering the highly competitive nature of the industry.

Supportive and understanding management

The responsibility and determination required to successfully manage a team or business can be an intimidating concept for aspiring workers, especially women who may feel management positions are out of reach due to them being male-dominated roles.

To combat this, management teams should be as supportive and understanding as possible to put women in finance roles at ease, as well as to motivate them to pursue higher positions. This can be encouraged through HR policies that include flexible working hours, especially for women with young children, as well as maternity leave. Furthermore, those working within these businesses should be aware that there are options available to them. This is vitally important for women in senior roles as they will carry even more responsibility while also setting an example visible to other women, possibly encouraging them to aspire through the ranks after seeing they will receive support from the company.

Another way finance businesses can provide a supportive work environment is recognisingquality of output, rather than the number of hours a person spends at their desk. The latter is an outdated approach to managing people that disbenefits everyone in an organisation but particularly women. Many of the  senior leaders who are women have young families, so taking their situation into account and supporting them when necessary, with the previously mentioned work policies, is a business critical move. Leaders must be encouraged to delegate, mentor and empower their teams and focus their energy on making impactful, high quality decisions.

Recruitment

The recruitment process Within the finance sector is very comptetitve, with a broad range or talent and skilled individuals seeking to enter the industry every year. As of 2021, there were 516,000 full time male employees in the financial and insurance activities sector in the UK, whereas there were 344,000 female employees. In order to recruit more women into these statistics, the value they bring to a workforce must be recognised, such as the aforementioned workplace policies. By enhancing the recruitment process and prioritising diversification as well as which candidates are qualified for the positions, it can encourage more women to want to apply for careers in finance, as the barrier for entry, the idea that finance is a male-dominated industry, will be less apparent.

Final thoughts

By striving to encourage more and more women to join the finance sector, as well as aspire to senior positions, the industry could see increased professional value as well as social progress. This is due to the skills, experience accountability and other qualities, that are needed in finance services, as well as create a more gender-equal environment within finance businesses.

It’s important that finance organisations celebrate the successes of the women who work for the business to encourage and support other  females in the sector to feel motivated and confident to climb the ranks. While progress has been made in this regard, with more equal opportunities available for workers across the UK regardless of their background, continued support and additional change is incredibly important from both a professional and moral standpoint.

About the author

Joanna Scott joined BOOST&Co as a principal in early 2017 and was promoted to managing director in July 2021, having taken a period of maternity leave in 2019. Previously she spent 10 years in investment banking at finnCap, where she began her career as an assistant in the Corporate Broking team. She studied music at Bristol University and alongside her career at BOOST&Co is an active member of the acclaimed City of London Choir.

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