One of the main reasons for the lack of women in senior roles across the financial services sector is due to a small talent pool, a partner from PwC has told the Treasury Committee, with calls for firms to be tracked and held accountable on their gender diversity progress
In the Treasury Committee’s first panel session of 2018, MPs questioned members from the financial services sector on what is being done to increase gender balance and how government can help to ensure gender diversity is kept at the top of the agenda.
One of the witnesses, Jon Terry, a partner at PwC, told the MPs that one of the main reasons the sector is seeing a lack of women in top roles is because of a small talent pool.
Terry said: ‘There is no doubt that financial services firms believe that the talent pool for women is lacking. Research has shown that 60% of all organisations in the financial services sector have said that the number one reason why there is not sufficient amount of senior recruits of women is because the talent pool of senior women is not adequate.
‘If you ask senior women the same question only 14% agree that the talent pool is too small.’
Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Committee, gave the example of the recent Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chair recruitment to highlight the issue the sector has with the lack of senior women.
Morgan said: ‘The FCA chair has just been appointed and the Treasury has been informed that there were 11 applications from men and only three from women. Often what we hear is “yes we would like to appoint more women but there are not enough women with the expertise”.
Kate Grussing, founder and managing partner of Sapphire Partners, a financial services recruiter, suggested that firms should be putting women on shortlists earlier on in their career to ensure they are experienced and qualified enough to apply for these more senior roles.
Terry also claimed that the biggest issue firms have to face is to tackle an ‘unconscious bias’ when choosing the person who is right for the role.
On average, 66% of entry-level roles are filled by women. This drops to 33% at management level and drops even further to 18% at senior level. Terry suggested that the lack of progression is either due to the small numbers of qualified women or biases towards men through promotion processes.
When asked whether she though the Women in Finance Charter goes far enough to address these issues Grussing said it was a great stepping stone but firms needed to be held more accountable. She called for the government to monitor whether firms are meeting their gender diversity targets and aiming to improve their gender pay gap.
Report by Amy Austin