A qualitative study, based on interviews and roundtable discussions with 79 women in the financial sector, identifies 10 action steps companies can take to encourage and enable women to overcome gender barriers to promotions and leadership positions.
Despite the overwhelming consensus in favour of improving career and leadership opportunities for women in business, diversity statistics continue to demonstrate that best intentions have not led to results.
The London School of Economics’ Inclusion Initiative, in partnership with the advocacy organization Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF), conducted a qualitative study to identify the actions that companies can take to improve the career development opportunities of women in the financials services sector.
The 2021 study, led by Inclusion Initiative Founding Director Grace Lordan followed up a wide-ranging 2020 quantitative survey of 1700 men and women working in the financial sector. One key finding of the survey: while men and women in the sector were equal in their ambitions and search for career advancement opportunities, nearly 80% of women found barriers blocking their career paths, compared to 59% for men.
The survey found some differences in the women’s experiences based on the share of men in the work environment. In functions with a low share of men, for example, mistakes by women were more likely to be punished than mistakes by men, while women working in functions with a high share of men were given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. To ensure a complete picture of the challenges faced by women in the sector, therefore, the 2021 qualitative study was based on interviews with 44 women, 23 working in front-office income-generating functions (FO) of the financial sector in which the share of men is higher and 21 working in communications and compliance (CC) functions in which women dominate. Roundtable discussions with 17 women in front-office functions and 18 women in communications and compliance functions complemented these interviews.
Ten dominant high-level themes emerged from the interviews:
The ten themes that emerged from the qualitative study were adapted into a framework of 10 action items entitled the GOOD FINANCE framework—the letters in the name representing the initials of the action items as follows:
The Good Finance Framework. Grace Lordan. Women in Banking and Finance (WIFB) (June 2020).
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